Are you exploring the conversion process?
Congregation Neveh Shalom has long been at the forefront of fashioning an inclusive, engaged, and educated community and welcomes all sorts of individuals and families to our doors. Our congregational family is highly diverse. That is a quality that we celebrate and strengthen.
Our enhanced Conversion Curriculum, combined with Portland’s Introduction to Judaism course, aims to give you the tools to live a joyous Jewish life. Please begin working with our clergy team as soon as you are able, as this will provide the smoothest and quickest experience. We are excited to help you on your path to becoming Jewish!
Overview of Conversion
Those who successfully conclude these requirements are given the gift of a full year’s membership to our caring community. We understand that we are all individuals. If your circumstances pose specific issues, please contact us. We want to help.
1. Take the Oregon Board of Rabbi’s Introduction to Judaism Course.
This will provide you with a thorough and broad understanding of many important topics as well as expose you to many of our community rabbis. This is important because there are so many ways to live Jewishly. While our congregation represents the best of “Big Tent Judaism,” and matches most people’s needs, it is essential that you find the best match for your own spiritual requirements. Contact JoAnn Bezodis for details.
2. Complete our Jewish Experiential Checklist.
Choose from our Jewish book list. While the checklist itself is included in our printed and online materials, we also want to explain our educational philosophy. Judaism, perhaps more than many faiths, is about so much more than beliefs. It is a tradition rich with marvelous moments that punctuate our lives with joy, stability, community and even introspection. Experiencing Judaism first hand is essential. Reading from a variety of sources will nurture your mind and soul.
3. Learn Prayerbook Hebrew decoding through our Adult Education program.
We want you to possess a sense of basic competence and comfort with Jewish prayer services. Our congregation is dedicated to inclusion AND depth. We believe that an educated Jew is a satisfied one, and we provide you with those tools.
4. Round out your Jewish learning with a four-session “Finishing Class” taught by Rabbis David Kosak and Eve Posen.
Our Portland Introduction to Judaism class covers much material. In our 4 session finishing class, we hone in on features unique to the Conservative movement as well as issues that often arise for those who choose Jewish.
5. Compose your Conversion Essays.
Again and again, we have been told how important writing these essays are by those who have undergone conversion. This next to the last step on the road to becoming Jewish helps you to crystallize your own thinking and provides you an opportunity to reflect on your own process and the history that has led you to this moment. These essays are important as they also allow the Beit Din, the Jewish rabbinical panel, who presides at your conversion, to better understand who you are and to share in your journey.
6. Go through final conversion rituals of immersion in a ritual bath (mikveh) and, as necessary, a brit milah.
Since the most ancient of times, Jews have found spiritual renewal and support through numerous lifecycle moments in the purifying waters of the mikveh. The mikveh is a ritual bath (and the source for Baptist practice) that plays a key component in your final spiritual transformation into a caring and committed Jew.
7. Celebrate your simcha, the happy occasion of becoming a proud and complete part of the Jewish family!
The Jewish Finishing Class
Jews are committed to lifelong learning, and Neveh Shalom offers an incredibly rich array of learning opportunities for people of all ages. So when we call this the “finishing class,” we do so tongue in cheek. Still, for most of our candidates, this is the last class you’ll take before going through the formal ritual components of conversion. Because we also want to continue to support you after you become Jewish, we will have a special Shabbat service of public affirmation and declaration of faith. Additionally, if your cohort wishes, we can provide training a year or two after conversion so that together you can have an adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah. We offer it twice a year, once in early to mid-winter, and again in late Spring to best coincide with marriage plans and the community’s Introduction to Judaism class.
A Message from Rabbi Kosak
Congregation Neveh Shalom wants to support you as you embrace Judaism. Judaism is more than a faith; here at Neveh Shalom, we are a passionate community, with diverse interests.
Our congregants are quite varied. Some are deeply committed to social justice, others are spiritual seekers. Many are grateful to be part of a community of caring individuals who are there to support you in times good and bad.
Because there are so many different ways to find your place here, our conversion program is intended to provide you with the basics you need to pray and connect.
We want to ensure you gain some basic competencies. It is our belief that the more empowered and comfortable you are, the greater the rewards of your Jewish identity.