Conservative Jewish Community in Warsaw, Poland

Conversion to Judaism

Our Synagogue is a member of the Masorti (Traditional/Conservative) movement. We offer the possibility for conversion to Judaism. The word conversion is commonly used but may not give the correct understanding of the process you need to go through to be part of the family and nation.

Examples of the need to become Jewish

For some it may be a conversion, for others it could be a repair process linking back to the past. Examples include:

•    You have no Jewish background in your family and have a desire to part of the Jewish nation ,“Jew by Choice”;

•    Your father is Jewish but your mother is not;

•    Your spouse or future spouse is Jewish and you wish your family to live by Jewish Customs and Traditions;

•    To fulfil your dreams or plans to live in Israel as its citizen (Aliyah). Conversion is one of the Aliyah requirements;

•    You have documented evidence of your family’s Jewish roots such as: at least one grandparent, your father or your mother and her mother. It could be that Judaism was not practiced in your family for a few generations or that your relatives assimilated into another religion.

•    You have circumstantial knowledge that your family included distant relatives who were Jewish, but have no factual evidence of the facts;

Having a Jewish history in your family does not necessarily mean you are a Jew. If you are Jewish through your mother’s side, but your family have not observed the customs and traditions, you will need to regulate this. We do not have an exclusion process, but give you a inclusion solution, where possible, to fulfil your wishes. The solution needs to comply with the Laws of Poland, Jewish law (Halakha), Israeli Law of Return and your commitment to a Jewish life.

In all cases Jewish tradition and customs need to be learnt and put into practice so they become a natural part of your life.

Conversion Process

The conversion process is made up of 4 parts:

•    Regular attendance in the synagogue during two religious cycles. This means attending Synagogue for most Shabbats (Friday evening and Saturday morning) services and during the Festivals and High Holy Days. Two religious cycles are required because the first time round is a learning process, leading to understanding in the second. All our services are open to the public and you can attend services without any commitment. Time spent in the past attending Shabbat Services, Festivals and High Holy Days in other communities is a positive point. We also encourage visiting other Jewish communities;

•    A study course that lasts about a year. There is a lot of material to cover including a knowledge of Hebrew. This non-committal course is open to all, whether you wish to convert or not;

•    Showing in practical terms that you lead a Jewish life, in your home and family life and in keeping the law;

•    Attending a Masorti Beit Din, an Assembly of three Rabbis to whom you confirm, by your answers, that Jewish traditions and customs are a part of your life. This is not an exam, it is an interview. In addition:

o    Before coming to the Beit Din all males need to be circumcised. We shall arrange this in plenty of time;

o    On conveying positively your commitment, understanding and practice, the final stage is going to a Mikvah (immersion) saying the traditional blessings. You then receive a document stating that you are a true member of the Jewish faith and a full member of the Jewish community;

On returning to your congregation you will be greeted warmly and will take the leading role your Bar or Bat Mitzvah service, where you will formally become a full member of your congregation.

Taking an active part for at least two religious cycles is very important. Attending services not only shows your commitment, it also allows you to encounter the traditions and customs and put them into practice in your own life. Judaism is not a theory, it is practice and a lifelong learning experience. Attendance also allows you integrate and assimilate into the community. As your understanding grows, you will make friends in the local and the wider community. Judaism is not only your personal commitment, but also a community commitment.

There is one basic group course lasting one year for all situations. Everyone is also treated individually for their specific needs and requirements. Part of the reason for attending a course is to start the process of involvement in the community. You will get to know others taking part and you will be supporting each other through the process.

First Step

The easiest way to contact us is to come to a service either Friday evening at 19:00 or Saturday morning at 10:30. At the door tell the person it is your  first visit to us. Someone will sit next to you and help you find your way through our prayer book (Siddur). After the service ask the person leading that you wish to talk. This we can do over dinner or at a separate meeting.

Alternatively, or in addition, you can contact either Avigail or Joe by email and say you are interested to know more about Judaism. We will contract you and arrange to meet privately either in a café or at our Synagogue.

Once we get to know you and you wish to continue to peruse your road to Judaism, we shall put you in touch with our sponsoring Rabbi who will listen and advise you of the steps that need to be made. Every person is an individual with specific needs. It is the sponsoring Rabbi that will decide when you are ready to attend the Masorti Beit Din. Being a Jew is not ticking off a checklist, it is about you.

Our Religious Services

A brief mention about our services. We hold services every Shabbat (Friday evening at 19:00 and Saturday morning at 10:30). All are invited to attend. After the service we have a meal, allowing time for questions, discussion and socialising. There will be someone on hand to help you with the prayer book (Siddur) format. Most of the service is in Hebrew with the Siddur having a Polish translation and transliteration. If you have not been to a Synagogue before, this will be something different from what you are used to. If you have experienced services in the past you will find we follow the traditional format, but sung. The Friday evening and Saturday morning services differ:

•    Friday evening (19:00) the service lasts about one hour and is sung, joyful and includes a short introduction to the current week’s study from the Torah (first 5 books in the Bible). The service is followed by traditional blessings, dinner and socialising;

Saturday (Shabbat) morning (10:30) service is also sung but is more serious and lasts 2 hours and includes reading and studying the Torah. It is followed by lunch and socialising.

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