Jews By Choice Program
Converting to Judaism is a serious undertaking. It is our hope that the information you find here can help you in your exploration. For more information, or to schedule an appointment to find out if our program is right for you, please contact Elizabeth Berke at 773-281-1423 or send her an email: AnsheEmetJBC@gmail.com.
Anshe Emet offers a comprehensive program for people who are considering conversion. We seek to equip people with tools and knowledge to determine if Judaism is right for them.
Through the Anshe Emet Jews by Choice program, participants will:
• Be familiar with Jewish concepts and values
• Be able to read Hebrew language
• Know how to create a Jewish environment at home
• Be comfortable participating in Jewish holidays and life cycle events
• Feel confident as full members of the Jewish community
Both challenging and fulfilling, our program consists of two required primary courses: Jewish Heritage (7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m) on Monday evenings (two semesters) and Hands-On Judaism (9:00 a.m. - 10:15 a.m.) on Saturday mornings (10 months).
The Heritage class provides a strong background in Jewish history and philosophy, while Hands-On Judaism is a great introduction to Jewish practice. Hebrew is offered every Monday night at 6:00 p.m., immediately before Heritage. Students will gain Hebrew reading basics through this class, but can also opt to study Hebrew in another format.
After the Hands-On Judaism on Shabbat mornings, students attend our Shabbat morning services. There are a variety of options to choose from: The Sanctuary service, Rose Crown Minyan, and JBC students are also welcome at the Religious School student services that begin at 11:00. Adults attend these as well, and they are a good way to learn some of the basic melodies and prayers in a learning environment. The Rose Crown Minyan incorporates a Shul Buddy program to assist and guide those who are new to synagogue services.
The JBC program also includes supplementary activities, such as learners’ services, field trips (mikvah, other synagogues, Holocaust Museum, Rosenblum’s book store), and social activities (Shabbat dinners and other gatherings). Additionally, there is a weekly email providing information on the weekly Torah portion, upcoming classes and community events and issues related to Jewish life in general.
Anshe Emet has a number of congregants who enjoy serving as mentors for JBC students. As part of the program, students also schedule individual meetings with each of Anshe Emet’s rabbis. The rabbis, who also teach in the program, help students with questions and concerns, and are a valuable source for guidance and support.
The JBC Action Steps are your guide to living a Jewish life. This is a month-by-month way to build your Jewish practice at home. You work at your own pace, selecting steps which are the easiest for you, gradually building your level of observance.
While we are located in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, our JBC conversion program is available to those from other areas of Chicago as well. Anshe Emet is comprised of approximately 1,100 member units, including singles and families. Among our members are many Jews by Choice who are active in synagogue life and serve on committees and on our Board of Trustees.
JBC program participants include people of all ages, ethnic backgrounds and members of the LGBT community. Students include intermarried couples (with and without children), couples who are engaged or contemplating marriage, and singles who are on their own spiritual journey.
Click here for some recent JBC graduate's student experiences.
The following texts support the comprehensive curriculum and cover topics taught in the Shabbat class and the Jewish Heritage class, as well as prepare you for the action steps. There are a limited number of copies available for participants to borrow. As a participant in the JBC program, you have access to the reference books and magazines located in the Bennett Adult Library, you may check out non-reference books, and you may use the computer in the library. The Library is open during synagogue office hours.
All of these books can be purchased at Rosenblum’s World of Judaica (9153 Gross Point Road, Skokie IL) or online at All Things Jewish. Many of these books can also be found at or ordered from bookstores and Amazon.com
The Jewish Holidays by Michael Strassfeld
Shabbat: The Family Guide to Preparing for and Celebrating the Sabbath by Ron Wolfson, 2nd Edition,As a Driven Leaf by Milton Steinberg
The Sabbath by Abraham Joshua Heschel
Siddur Hadash: A New Prayer Book for Sabbath & Festival Mornings by Sidney Greenberg, Jonathan D. Levine
Jewish Literacy by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin
Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), the Jewish Publication Society translation Please note that this text is available in either English only, or English and Hebrew. The English / Hebrew version is a little more expensive, but will be of great value as you study Hebrew.
Saying Kaddish by Anita Diamant,
Night by Elie Weisel
Pray Tell: A Hadassah Guide to Jewish Prayer by Rabbi Jules Harlow,
Kosher: Sanctifying the Ordinary-An Interactive CD by USCJ (available from Rabbi Siegel’s office)
How to Keep Kosher, by Lise Stern
The New Jewish Wedding by Anita Diamant