Leading conversion studios in Israel
How long does it take to convert?
Conversion is a personal process, and depends on the converting student’s progress. Ten to twelve months, is ideally the right amount of time for the studying part, in which the convert experiences the Jewish holidays, and covers the academic and practical sides of Judaism. After finishing all the material, and when both the teacher and student feel that the material has been well covered and learnt well, the decision is made to turn to the conversion courts. Then a reprisentitive of the court decides if the student is ready and a date is set for the actual conversion.
We were planning on getting married and I discovered that I’m not Jewish. What to do?
Finding out suddenly is not simple and can be emotionally difficult. We encourage you to call and consult us about the various options we offer to suit your needs and get through the process. Obviously, some of the decisions (e.g. whether to postpone the wedding, etc.) you will have to make alone. We will try to listen and help you analyze the situation. Conversion process requires the couple’s decision that cannot be made from a hysterical and a complex emotional state. It’s important for us that you know there are solutions, but they are not magic solutions or ‘quickies’.
Is your conversion an Orthodox conversion?
Our conversion is strictly Orthodox. The only conversion recognized in the country by state institutions and authorities is an Orthodox conversion. All the teachers in Ami Conversion Ulpan are Orthodox teachers who studied in Yeshivot Hesder through the Religious Zionist approach and are graduates of Yeshivas and Seminaries. The judges of the court all come from a similar background and worldview. This way you can be sure you won’t learn items of the non-orthodox which may cause you to fail in the court. We are students of Rabbi Chaim Druckman Shlita, the former head of the conversion system and Head of Ami Conversion Ulpan, and we keep strictly to his rulings.
What is the difference between you and other studios that offer preparation for conversion?
There are several organizations that offer studies to prepare for conversion. “Ami, a Personal Conversion Ulpan” is the largest, most professional, and the organization which offers a variety of programs. Starting with the personal program of learning one on one, meetings in small groups, and classrooms spread out all over the country. The inclusion of a computerized system for distance learning, along with our unique curriculum, represent a significant innovation in the Conversion Studios, and makes us the leading body. Thousands of our students have succeeded in court in significant percentages. Ask them.
Is it requirement to have a family accompany me on the conversion process?
Besides learning theoretical and practical learning, conversion studies include experiencing Judaism on a personal level by connection with an observant family. The role of an accompanying family is important, because it presents a Jewish in-house practical experience, which is the only way to really get a sense of everyday Jewish life. Judges of the special court for conversion, want to get the impression that not only has the student progressed in his studies theoretically, but has also seen it in practical aspects, which is only possible with an accompanying family. In addition, the accompanying family can also give the court a wider picture of the converts’ progress.
I read there is a problem with Rabbi Drukman’s conversions, that they are not universally accepted?
“The purely righteous do not complain about evil, but add justice. Do not complain about heresy, but add faith. Do not complain about ignorance, but add wisdom.” (The words of Rabbi Kook). Rabbi Druckman, Israel Prize laureate, who ran for many years the conversion system, saw great responsibility to the people of Israel and its immigrants, especially those with Jewish roots who want to convert. Unfortunately, there are people who disagree with the Rabbi’s national vision. It is important to emphasize that the conversions by Rabbi Druckman have never been and aren’t today disqualified! All conversions are valid and will remain valid in the future. The special conversion court formally headed by Rabbi Druckman is the only court recognized by the country!
Is it true that I will be followed and my home checked for observance?
No one will check after you. The whole conversion process is in the hands of the convert. One who wishes to convert, and goes though the process from his or her own free choice, and the court subsequently is impressed, will be converted. The court or any other body do not track or initiate other such measures that track the student. We emphasize that we see success in the student’s ability to live the rest of his life as a Jew. The conversion process is not a one-time event, but rather a milestone in one’s life that he or she becomes a Jew.
I started once, but didn’t finish the process. What should I do?
You can always continue. Unfortunately, there are those who find themselves in a situation where they started the process, but not always finish for various reasons. In general, we emphasize that we see importance in a student’s persistence. A student who previously started but has not finished learning, can undergo an interview, which will determine the level of knowledge and progress in the process. The “Ami, Personal Conversion Ulpan” have special programs for those with significant background, who just need to align with the expected level for the hearing at the court. If your past studies have brought you to a certain level, we can tailor a program for you to fill in what’s needed.
I have a daughter, two years old. Does she need to convert with me?
Children who are under the age of bar/bat mitzvah (13 or 12 years old) are converted with the decision of the parents. So if the daughter or son are young, they are converted to Judaism together with their parents, but will not have to go through the curriculum that the parents have to go through. After the conversion of the parents, the children will be circumsized and immersion together with the parents. It is important to emphasize that the court wants to get the impression that the father and mother educate their children according to Judaism and therefore expects the parents to register them in religious schools.
I’m not an Israeli citizen. What should I do?
The Interior Ministry does not allow anyone who is not an Israeli citizen to convert in this country. There are several options to convert those who are not citizens. You may contact the commission for foreign nationals in the Interior Ministry. Other materials can be read here. In any case we recommend contacting us to examine the possibilities and further exploration of available options.
What happens if one fails in court?
It should be emphasized that the teachers in the conversion course prepare the participants of the course to be able to pass the tests of the court, nevertheless sometimes the candidates are not able to make he needed changes in their lives in a short period opf time. Often the court is impressed at the first hearing and confirms the conversion, and sometimes their approval is subject to a condition which they check on at a hearing at a later date. Just like when getting a driver’s license, not all pass on the first test, but those who want to get their license keep trying until they succeed. We are committed to help and support you through the process, as required and according to your will, to success.
Is it true that it is so expensive to convert?
No, that’s not true. Israel considers converting ‘a national mission’ and so there are funds allocated for schooling. Government budgets do not cover all the expenses, so we depend also on the donations of individuals, and of course the participation of the students themselves. Student participation varies between the different learning tracks, and obviously the personal track will be more expensive that the those who learn in class, who only pay a mere symbolic sum.
I really want to convert, but I do not have any time because of work. What should I do?
The conversion process requires a certain level of free time. We are aware of the fact that many of our students work most of the day just to provide for living costs. Therefore, we take great pains and efforts to take this into account and be flexible, as long as it does not hurt the pace and level of preparation of the student.
Is it possible to continue to believe in another religion and be a Jew?
No. One cannot continue to believe in another religion and at the same time in Judaism.
I started learning for conversion while in the army but didn’t finish. Can you make a shortcut for me?
There are no shortcuts, and you don’t need any. Your previous studies were part of the way and you can continue where you left off. At the first meeting, we’ll get an impression of your level and progression, and we’ll adjust the course for you.
I opened a file for conversion in court. Is that okay?
It’s fine. Opening a file in the special conversion court is a formal process which simply registers you in the courts’ database. Most students open the file in court all together about two months into their studies. If the file has already been opened, there is no problem. We are in contact daily with the court system, and the file you opened will accompany you through the process, so you do not have to reopen.
My husband does not want me to convert. What should I do?
The conversion process is the process of building a Jewish home and a life together. A couple who plan to marry, and for those already living as a married couple, the process is a cornerstone for building the house together. The role of the Jewish spouse (if ones’ spouse is Jewish) is to accompany and support his or her converting partner. In addition the special conversion court wants to get the impression that you are able to have a Jewish life together. It is hardly possible to make good progress without the support of a spouse, before and after. It is important not to give up because of it. If you want to get advice, we will be happy to help you out.
Is the Jewish spouse required to join the study and why?
The conversion process is the process of building a Jewish home and a life together. A couple who plan to marry, and those already living as a married couple, the process is a cornerstone for building the house together. The role of the Jewish spouse (if one’s spouse is Jewish) is to accompany and support his partner convert. Also a special conversion court wants to get the impression that you are able to have a Jewish life. Its Hardly possible to make good progress without the support of a spouse, before and after. Therefore, the Court requires that your partner should also take an active role in the studies.
Is it simply easier just to convert abroad?
In the Jewish communities abroad whose courts are accepted by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, in most cases, the process is longer. If you are about to undergo a process of conversion in a Jewish community outside Israel, it is very important to check that the court is approved by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, and meets the criteria of the rabbinate in Israel.
I am 16 years old, and I want to convert. What do you do?
The special conversion court, wants to get the impression that you are in an environment that allows you to keep Judaism after conversion. This includes keeping kosher at home and a supporting attitude at home. So until the age of 18, it’s possible you live in an environment that makes it hard for you to keep Judaism. If you have any questions, you can contact us, and we will be happy to help.
I am studying in a religious school in the twelfth grade, Does this mean anything?
Definitely. Your background in school can help you out significantly in the process. Please contact us and we’ll help you set up a custom program for your level.
My mother’s mother claims that we are Jews, but the documents were burned during the war. What should we do?
The role of the rabbinate marriage registration department is to ensure the continuation of Am Yisrael (The Jewish Nation), namely, that Jews marry Jews. If you think you have not gone through all the options in proving your Jewish roots, we encourage you to read more material about Jewish clarification here. If you find there is no way to prove your Jewish roots, you can contact us and we will be happy to help you. This will be taken into consideration when you will stand before the special court for conversion.
Is there a way to take a shortened route?
There are no shortcuts. But there are people who have a large segment of the process behind them already. So how do you know where you’re standing? By simply checking. Contact us and we will be happy to help.
Shouldn’t I just do a Reform conversion?
Reform conversion is not recognized in Israel. We in “Ami, a Personal Conversion Ulpan” have the perception that the Orthodox way is the way that unites, is legal by Jewish law and correct.
Where do you have ulpans for conversion?
The ulpans of “Ami, a Personal Conversion Ulpan” are spread out throughout the country from Eilat to the Far North. We believe that even those who live in remote areas are entitled to go through the process, just like those who live in the center of the country. Contact us and find out about the ulpan nearest to you.