Can my partner come with me to classes?
Yes, we encourage both partners in a relationship to attend all classes and programs together. The material one learns in class assists you, as a couple, to discuss your religious and spiritual life and how you see forming and acting upon these aspects of your life together.
What if I am partnered with someone who is not Jewish and does not plan on becoming Jewish?
We work with individuals to support them as they create a Jewish life for themselves in this context. Anshe Emet has dual-faith families and families where one member is identified Jewishly and the other is not religious but is supportive to the partner and to raising Jewish children. Our clergy and www.interfaithfamily.com are helpful resources for these couples.
How long will it take to complete the program?
The length of your time in the JBC program depends on when you begin. Other factors include life circumstances and time you have to dedicate to the classes and experiences. Those who begin in September often complete the program in an academic year (Sept – June), but if you begin in the middle of that time span it can be a 12 – 14-month process since we do not hold classes in the summer.
We do not make assumptions about when you will feel ready to complete your conversion and check in regularly to ascertain a good timeline, we want to make sure the program is working for you as you form your Jewish identity and create your Jewish life. Participation in classes and experiences is required, as is living a year of Jewish holidays.
The Shabbat morning classes run weekly on an academic cycle, from September through May, and the Miller Heritage class begins after Sukkot (mid-to-late October) and ends in the late spring.
What if I have to miss a class?
Attendance is taken at all JBC classes, events and field trips. While we expect this program to be a top priority for participants, we do realize that you may have obligations that require you to miss a class or two over the course of the year.
Of the Shabbat morning classes held annually, participants may miss up to 5 classes. If you miss more than 5 classes, you may either make those classes up the following year (when those topics are next taught) or, with the permission of the program director, you may enlist a private tutor.
The Miller Heritage class is recorded on most weeks. If you have to miss a class, then you can listen to the recording and write a response to the material as a way to make up the session. Many classes are based on discussion and exploration of topics with classmates, so it is recommended to miss as few as possible. If you are out of town during class, there is a conference line to call as well. This mode of participation also requires you to write a brief synopsis of the class and answer questions posed to the students for discussion, which is then turned into the JBC Coordinator.
Do I have to attend synagogue services?
Participants are expected to attend Shabbat morning services at least twice a month, as well as to attend one other service monthly. Additional services may include weekday, holiday, or Shabbat evening services, and may be attended at any synagogue or community. Attendance at the synagogue of your choice is required for all holidays.
If I am a male, will I need to be circumcised or need a Hatafat Dam Brit?
Yes, all men must be circumcised in order to convert to Judaism. Those who are already medically circumcised undergo a ritual prior to immersing in the mikvah. This ritual, called hatafat dam brit, is performed by a ritual circumciser (mohel/moyel) and involves the symbolic and painless drawing of a small drop of blood, entering you into the covenant. We can provide the contact information for a Dr. who has worked with many adults who need circumcision.
When can I start?
Students can start at any time. The biggest groups tend to start in September and January.
How much does it cost?
The JBC program is $500 for an individual. This fee includes all classes and field trips, along with some books and resources (beginning Hebrew reading textbook, Kashrut and Shabbat resources). If you have a partner, the partner can attend all classes and field trips with you for this one fee. There is tuition assistance available.
Will there be additional costs?
There is an additional fee for the mikvah ($180), and if you are a male there is a fee for the mohel at the time of the hatafat dam brit ($75).
Will my conversion be accepted in other movements of Judaism?
Conservative, Reconstructionist and Reform communities will accept a conversion completed through Anshe Emet. Few conversions are accepted in more traditional branches of Judaism except those performed by known rabbis in those communities.
Will my conversion be accepted in Israel?
We have had students make Aliyah as Jews, however this is recognition through the Ministry of the Interior. The Rabbanut (Orthodox Rabbinic authority in Israel) does not accept non-Orthodox conversions. Many Israelis, especially those in the Masorti (Conservative) movement would be happy to embrace those converted according to Jewish law by Conservative rabbis abroad.
Will I meet with a beit din?
After completion of essay questions, you will meet with the beit din, comprised of rabbis from Anshe Emet or other local rabbis. We require candidates to meet individually with each rabbi prior to the beit din as well. If you have a close relationship with a rabbi in a nearby community, he or she is welcome to be a part of the beit din.
Will I go to the mikvah?
Yes, we require all candidates to immerse in a mikvah. We use the Community Mikvah housed at Beth Hillel Congregation B’nai Emunah, in Wilmette.
Do I have to be a member of Anshe Emet to be in the JBC program?
No, you do not have to be a member. While you are enrolled in the program you are encouraged to take advantage of the services, speakers, programs and celebrations that occur at Anshe Emet, and when there is a charge you can use the member rate. High Holiday tickets are also available for JBC candidates at a discounted rate. Once completing the program there are a variety of membership rates (Young Adult, Young family, etc.) through which you can join the synagogue, if you are interested.
What if I am not planning on affiliating with a Conservative congregation when I am done?
We have graduates who follow a variety of paths to observance and affiliation after graduating from the program. It is not a requirement to affiliate with Anshe Emet or a Conservative congregation. We do hope you take advantage of all Anshe Emet has to offer during your enrollment in the program in order to get to know the community and rabbis.
What if I am already married?
We have a number of participants who are already married and then choose to follow a path to conversion. After completion it provides an opportunity to celebrate with a Jewish wedding.
What if I am a member of the LGBTQ+ community?
The Anshe Emet community welcomes all who are on a path to learn about Judaism. We strive to meet everyone where they are, and work closely with Keshet to make sure needs are met throughout the process.
If I have already started studying with a rabbi elsewhere, can I skip some of the Anshe Emet program and finish the program faster?
We have had cases such as this. We require documentation of past participation, and the Director of the JBC program will talk with the previous rabbi or instructor to gain a fuller picture of the program and what was covered to date.