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Giyur: passing and requirements

August 29, 2023 837 Time to read: 13 min. Comments: 3

Jewishness goes beyond nationality, because one can become a Jew not only by blood. If the rabbi considers a person’s intention to convert to Judaism serious, the candidate will be able to convert and will be considered a real Jew.

Giyur is a rite of passage into Judaism. Usually they apply for conversion:

  • foreigners who converting to judaism for marriage;
  • spouses of Jews / Jewish women who are imbued with Jewish culture and want to raise children according to Jewish traditions;

  • descendants of Jews of the 4th and later generations;
  • other candidates for repatriation to Israel who do not have sufficient grounds for aliyah.

First you need to contact the rabbinate and fill out a questionnaire. The rabbi will conduct an interview, and maybe more than one. His task is to make sure the candidate’s intentions are pure. Only then will he send him to training.

Preparatory classes usually last 3 hours. The candidate, under the guidance of a mentor, reads the main Jewish books and learns the prayers. It is important to get involved in the life of the community in advance: attend the synagogue, find a family that will agree to receive you.

It takes 1-3 years to prepare. Periodically, the candidate is summoned to the rabbinic court to test his knowledge. Sometimes a person realizes that this is not for him, and refuses this idea.

The candidate will be allowed to convert by decision of the rabbinic court, which meets twice a year. Not only the candidate himself, but also his family members are invited to the meeting. Questions can be asked even to children. If, in the opinion of the rabbi, the candidate is not yet ready, he will be pointed out gaps in knowledge and sent to prepare further.

What is a giyur and who is a ger?

Ger – a proselyte – is a non-Jew who, through a special procedure called jewish conversion process, has become part of the Jewish people.

According to Halakha, a Jew is considered to be one who was born of a Jewish mother or underwent conversion. Giyur is a rite of passage into Judaism for a person of non-Jewish origin, previously non-religious or professing another religion. However, this procedure in itself is just a symbolism of rebirth for a new life.

A person must prove his commitment to the commandments of Judaism and the teachings of the Torah by actions. That is why conversion takes up to two years. A newly converted man who has accepted giyur process is called “ger”. Women are called “gyoret”.

The essence of conversion

Giyur is not just a formality. The ritual itself is simple, but preparation for it sometimes takes years. You need to learn Hebrew prayers, read a lot of religious literature, understand the essence of Judaism and really feel it.

To accept Judaism means to change the worldview and way of life. Not everyone who wants to marry or emigrate is ready for such a step.

Judaism conversion process includes certain rituals. These include circumcision for men and the mikveh ritual for women.

Mikveh (or mikveh) is such a ritual pool of the Jews. You plunge into it – you are cleansed of impurities. Mikveh can be compared to a reservoir of holy water during baptism. The mikveh alone can hold 40 sea (a measure of volume in biblical times) – this is from 250 to 1000 liters.

As a result of the ceremony, the future Jew takes on the burden of observing all 613 commandments of the Torah. This must be done in front of the rabbinic court – Beit Din. After that, the rabbinic court will determine how ready the candidate is to become a Jew, whether his thoughts are pure.

If the court approves the candidacy, then the above-mentioned rituals await the person: circumcision, dipping into the mikvah, as well as giving a Jewish name.

Giyur for men

A man must be a sincere believer and be able to confirm this with his actions, because the path to Judaism begins with a conversation with a rabbi. During this conversation, the rabbi will seek to understand how much a person accepts the Jewish faith, wants to become part of the Jewish people, understands its culture and giyur meaning. He asks the new convert questions to test his sincerity, but not only: by doing so, the rabbi wants to help the person form a clear idea of ​​what he is going to do.

During the re-interview, the rabbi evaluates how well the candidate has learned the necessary basics, whether he has maintained an active desire to become a Jew, whether he attends the synagogue, whether he participates in the life of the community.

If the rabbi and the candidate himself decide that the preparation is complete, then the ritual of circumcision is performed – brit mila. If the neophyte has already been circumcised, then a symbolic extraction of a drop of blood is performed – hatafat-dam brit. After that, the date of the rabbinic court is set.

At the end of the course, students appear before the rabbinic court, and after a positive decision, they perform circumcision (men) and ritual ablution in a mikveh (both men and women). In about a month, a confirmation of the change of status will be sent to the house by mail, with which it will already be possible to go to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and apply for Israeli citizenship.

Giyur for women

Women are waiting for a conversation with a rabbi and the procedure of dipping in a mikveh (ritual pool). A woman who wants to convert is required to know the history of the Jewish people and act in accordance with the Jewish commandments. Usually it all starts with a conversation with the rabbi, but before that it is highly desirable that the woman shows herself to be involved in the affairs of the community. There are special conversion schools for this.

For a meeting with a member of the rabbinic court (Beit Dinah), a married woman must come with her husband. It is highly desirable to obtain a letter of recommendation from the chairman of the Jewish community. You also need to have your passport with you. The rabbi will talk to the applicant in a friendly manner to find out how much she is really committed to Judaism and shares Jewish values, how important it is for her to be part of the community. He will check how well a woman knows the basic commandments, whether she observes Shabbat and kashrut, how great is her desire to be Jewish.

During this time, the woman must show that she keeps the commandments and the Torah, follows all traditions and is actively involved in the activities of the Jewish community.

At the end of the trial period, the rabbi meets with the woman again to see if she is ready to convert to Judaism.

Also, during the interview, they will try to find out how well the woman understands the tradition, whether she knows the main commandments, the order of prayers, the names of the forefathers and other important details. If the answers of the woman suit the members of the court, they will give her permission to convert. The conversion procedure for women consists, in fact, of one stage: ritual immersion in a mikveh, a special pool for ablution. The mikvah is entered completely naked, but the ceremony is organized in such a way as to ensure maximum privacy.

How to prepare for Giyur

Most of the procedure takes preparation with a conversation with the rabbi. If the rabbi is convinced that a person is attracted by pure thoughts, then he will tell him about what to do next.

Thus begins the preparation process, which lasts for about a year. It is also necessary to attend a synagogue and special classes in which the Torah and traditions will be studied.

A person undergoing conversion must:

  • learn basic prayers and their order;
  • know the 13 principles of faith;
  • know and follow the laws related to holidays;

  • stick to kashrut;
  • have a general understanding of the foundations of Judaism.

What documents are needed

You can undergo giyur in Israel or in the country of originl. In both cases, you need to find a teacher who will teach the basics of Judaism and suggest what to do. You can find it through the local Israeli synagogue. If you are going to convert or prepare for it in the country of origin, then go to the website of the Chief Rabbinate and select your city to get the contact details of the authorized rabbinate of the city.

Once you contact the rabbi, you will be given an appointment at the rabbinic court. There you will need to fill out a questionnaire and answer the questions: why do you need to convert, why exactly Judaism. There will also be questions about your biography. Of particular importance is the presence of Jewish roots, whether the marriage is with a Jew (Jewish) or whether you plan to enter into it in the future.

How the conversion ceremony takes place

For men, the first stage of conversion to judaism is brit mila, that is, circumcision. It takes place during daylight hours in the presence of three rabbis.

Let’s say right away that circumcision can be avoided only if you have done it before. Many candidates try to avoid Brit Milah, but this is not possible if you want to become a Jew.

The operation will be performed by a qualified surgeon who specializes in circumcision. In Israel, this surgeon is called “moel”. The procedure takes place under local anesthesia, sometimes under general anesthesia. Therefore, you do not have to worry that something will go wrong during the procedure, an infection will get in, etc. Circumcision in an Israeli clinic is safer than a filling in Russian dentistry.

Men after circumcision, and women immediately after a positive decision of the rabbinic court, are sent to the ritual of immersion in the mikveh. As we said at the beginning of the article, after dipping into a mikveh, a person is cleansed of all impurities and no longer turns out to be who he was before, but a full-fledged Jew.Impurities are not meant in the physical sense, but in the spiritual sense – past sins, mistakes.

It is necessary to dip naked so that every part of the body comes into contact with water. However, women are allowed to enter the mikveh in a special spacious robe that does not obstruct the water.

The ritual takes place during the day under the supervision of rabbis. Their task is to make sure that the person has plunged completely, so that even a hair on the head does not remain dry.After the ger comes out of the water, he will be called a full-fledged Jew. This completes the jewish conversion process and this is how ger becoming jewish.

 Can conversion be refused

Conversion may be refused if the rabbi is not sure of the sincerity of your intentions, as well as those who are:

  • mentally handicapped, due to the fact that they are not responsible for their behavior;
  • deaf people, because they cannot hear and speak, so they will not be able to go through the ceremony;

  • people who live in a place where they cannot keep the commandments;
  • Amalek men (ancient Arab nomadic tribe).

Conversion and Israeli citizenship

A newly converted Jew receives the legal right to repatriation through conversion. It should only be recalled that a conversion certificate is issued a year after it is completed.

As mentioned above, since a convert, from the point of view of the Law of Return, is equated in his rights with halachic Jews (that is, those who are descended from a Jewish mother), he can receive Israeli citizenship after converting.

In practice, the Israeli Interior Ministry is quite meticulous about individuals who want to obtain Israeli citizenship through conversion, and require them to provide evidence that they:

  • within 9 months before conversion, they were trained and participated in the life of the community;

  • within 9 months after the rite, the conversion remained active in the community.

If the passage of conversion was preceded by a period of less than 9 months, then the applicant will be asked to confirm that he attended at least 350 hours of courses in the study of Torah, tradition and history of the Jewish people.

Who are Ger and Giyeret

The one who has passed the conversion is called the word “ger” (a woman – “giyeret”). The essence of conversion is to assume the responsibility of fulfilling all the commandments and laws of the Torah. Before the completion of the conversion process, men perform brit mila – circumcision. And at the end of the conversion, both men and women plunge into the mikvah (ritual pool). After conversion, a non-Jew becomes a full-fledged member of the Jewish people.

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    Hello. I am an American but would like to convert to Judaism. How long does it take to convert?

    January 20 2024, 19:23
    Maya Laoshvili

    Hello! There is no clear timeframe, however, the procedure usually takes 2 – 5 years.

    February 12 2024, 17:58
    Aaron Cohen

    Good day, there is no clear timeframe for conversion, however, the procedure usually takes from 2 to 5 years.

    February 29 2024, 18:41
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