I have seen numerous posts on social media talking about how “easy,” reform conversion is and how fast and simple it is, but this is not the truth. Now, I can only speak about mine and my family’s conversion, not everyone else’s experiences regarding conversion to Reform Judaism. The moment we knew we wanted to convert, we began attending Shabbat services and had begun working alongside our sponsoring Rabbi to learn and ask questions.
We read and were told of countless books, then asked questions with our Rabbi, who was there anytime we needed, alongside monthly meetings to discuss everything. We celebrated the high holidays and festivals, we engaged with the community, and our kids went and still go to Hebrew/Jewish school. We learned Halakah, Tanakh, and Talmud, and we studied the commentaries of Rashi. We began learning to read, write, and speak Hebrew and studied the history of Israel (Including the modern state) and the Jewish people.
I memorized a good 90% of the prayers in Hebrew, and almost all of the songs (though my Hebrew singing leaves much to be desired) and literally transformed our home and lives, to be a Jewish household. We attended the, “a taste of Judaism,” and then, “Intro to Judaism,” courses (alongside others), We gave/give Tzedakah regularly, and we began living by the Mitzvot; we also began praying 3 times a day and saying blessings for just about everything.
Then came the time for the conversion itself, and so we met with the Beit Din, comprised of our two Rabbis and the head of the Jewish education center. My wife, all four of our kids, and I went before the Beit Din and in the end, we got their approval and signatures on our conversion certificates. Once the Beit Din concluded we went to a Mikvah and one by one we were submerged in the living waters.
The entire process was incredible, meaningful, deeply spiritual, and utterly transformational in every aspect of our lives. I learned so incredibly much, including how to learn in new ways, and that inspired a strong desire to continue learning more, even after conversion, and applying more, in whatever ways possible. My neshama was set ablaze and I felt that aish fall over me eternally; it was beautiful, and it still is beautiful.
Our house hangs Mezuzah, I wear tzitzit and Tallit, and as soon as I can afford a set, I will be getting kosher Tefillin as well. Our diet is (mostly) Kosher, and by all looks and in most cases everything else, we’re an orthodox family, only we’re Reform and used the spiritual autonomy given to us, to make informed decisions and agreements with and about our spiritual life.
I went from a babe in the woods to be able to keep up with anyone davening, to performing and studying the Mitzvot constantly, and being a competent Jew confident in any setting. As a Reform Jew, I can tell you unequivocally that my family and I are not like other families, because Reformers do adhere to spiritual autonomy, which means we’re each free to explore Judaism as we will. It’s like a tree with many roots, Reform Judaism has many varied Jews each with their own individual expression of the same things.
It is 100% and without a shadow of a doubt growth on me and my family’s part, and it was spurred on by my Reform Rabbis and the Reform movement. My family lives closely as orthodox as possible, but we are not orthodox, we’re Reformers, and our quest to learn more and grow more was driven by Reform Judaism. So, when I hear someone saying it’s so easy, or useless to convert to Reform Judaism, I get a bit irked, because it had a profound effect on me and led me to where I am shomer Shabbat, observant, but respect the autonomy of other Jews.
It took my family and me almost two years to finish the conversion process, it was not overnight, it took study and practice, countless questions, and jumping in headlong to life as a jew. It took buying what ritual and holiday needs we could when we could and ensuring that we did holidays right and knew every aspect of them. Observing Shabbat without waver, week after week, and letting our kids play roles in the Shabbat and Havdalah rituals to get them directly involved.
We worked hard and grew together as a family, and as members of this community as a whole. Our growth continues, because our passion to know more, understand more, and do more, is unquenchable. It was this passion that was ignited in us during the conversion process, that carried on long after our dunk in the mikvah.