Mazal tov on your decision to explore conversion to Judaism. This is one of the most sacred journeys you can undertake and Rabbi Ain is happy to help usher you through this process. You should reach out to Rabbi Ain directly to discuss your specific situation, but here are answers to frequently asked questions.
Rabbi Ain was featured in this New York Jewish Week article about conversion.
- How long does the conversion process take? The conversion of an adult who was not born or raised in the Jewish faith and community takes approximately one year, though specifics are worked out directly with Rabbi Ain. If a wedding date has already been scheduled, please be in touch with Rabbi Ain as quickly as possible. It is important for an individual to experience the totality of the Jewish calendar to understand the importance of Jewish time. This process will entail a significant period of study, either with Rabbi Ain directly or in a class in the NYC area (see #5); time spent meeting one on one with Rabbi Ain to process the information being learned; frequent attendance at Shabbat and holiday services; and participation in the Jewish community of NYC, via Sutton Place Synagogue and more.
- What do I need to do to affirm my Judaism if I was raised in a home where we practiced Jewish traditions, my biological father is Jewish but my mother is not? If you were raised exclusively in a Jewish home but born through “patrilineal descent,” you will have an affirmation ceremony at the mikvah, where, in front of a bet din (a court of three) you will discuss why you are interested in doing this and you will immerse in the mikvah. If you are female, the only person who will undress you is the “mikvah lady” a wonderful woman at the West Side Mikvah who will help you during this final process. If you are a man and you were circumcised, you will need to do “hatafat dam brit,” a small procedure where a pin prick of blood is taken from your penis. Following that you will appear before the bet din and immerse in the mikvah.
- What is the process for converting children, either being raised in a home where the child was not born to a woman who is biologically Jewish? If the baby has not yet been born, and you know you are having a boy, please ensure that the appropriate and necessary blessings are said at the circumcision.. A trained mohel can help you through this process or Rabbi Ain can be present and recite the blessings if a Jewish doctor is doing the circumcision. If the baby/children have been born, the steps are the following:. If it is a boy and circumcision was performed, if necessary the boy will need “hatafat dam brit” the pin prick of blood. Whether a boy or a girl, the parents will appear before the bet din to affirm the intention to raise their child exclusively in the Jewish tradition. Following that conversation the child, if old enough, will immerse him/herself in the mikvah. If it is a baby, he/she will go in with a parent (the parent can wear a bathing suit though the child will be naked) and immerse that way. If there are two Jewish parents raising the child, but the child was adopted and born to a woman who is not Jewish, the child still needs to undergo this procedure.
- What is the fee for conversion? Rabbi Ain does not charge a fee for conversion, however, there is a fee for the mikvah (usually $250 payable directly to them, for the upkeep and function) as well as a fee for the classes. While synagogue membership is not required, it is encouraged as a commitment to becoming an active member of the Jewish community.
- How do I enroll in classes? Please look at the Rabbinical Assembly Exploring Judaism Class, the 92nd St Y Derekh Torah class, or Rabbi Stephen Lerner’s Conversion Institute. If none of these classes fit your schedule, Rabbi Ain will try to work directly with you.
Click here for an article about choosing a Hebrew name after conversion