Okay, so I’m not exactly a Rabbi, I’m not even a qualified layperson in Judaism, but what I am is dedicated to learning, growing, and finding myself counted within Judaism. I am obsessed like I was touched by the divine, setting my soul ablaze, so I read a lot, study a lot, watch videos on Judaism, and buy stuff to build on our Jewish life, and home. I learn something new every day, from history to religion, from Hebrew to culture. My life today is a Jewish life today, but I am only 6-months into conversion, with my four kids in a Jewish school and my wife converting with me.
So, not to toot my own whistle but, “honk honk,” I have maybe 50% of Judaism learned… what?… Okay, my number is around 0.8% but gaining every day. So please allow me in my infinitesimal wisdom to give you some tips that have helped me and my family in Judaism. These tips are fairly universal throughout all Judaism converts, of all denominations/movements of Judaism.
- Deep dive into Judaism – I suggest finding some good books, attend Shabbat services, practice Shabbat and Havdallah ceremonies at home, and learn from every Jewish person you can. Attend a Taste of Judaism learning events and An introduction to Judaism course that is longer. attend Torah study,
- Make a Jewish home – This is important if you’re serious about converting, as it will directly tie into your Jewish life and your ability to perform ceremonies at home and celebrate high-holy days and life cycle events. Hang a mezuzah, have a small Jewish library, have all of the necessities for Shabbat and Havdallah, Passover, and the high-holy days. Have a Tzedakah box, a menorah, and maybe some art, make your home reflect hints of your Judaism and the tenets thereof.
- Meet others – Community is big within Judaism, being a once tribal people, I think community nurtures what was engrained in all Jews through history, the tribe. Community, deep connections, and roots placed firmly in a community are the bedrock of true emersion.
- Synagogue life – You’ll want to find a synagogue that speaks to you, that has “Your,” Rabbi in it, and that makes you feel welcomed. Jump in headfirst honestly, join a synagogue, if you’re serious about conversion you’ll need a Rabbi, and guess what’s chock full of Rabbis? The synagogue! I’m being facetious of course, but the synagogue empowers all Judaism to flourish, it’s at the cornerstone of Jewish understanding, conversions, education and so much more. Synagogues have tons of awesome programs for you to take part in, fun activities, learning activities, and even social justice programs (coinciding with Tikkun Olam). Just do it, thank me later, call me a mensch after…
- Don’t just study the religion – To truly grow as a part of the Jewish people, I feel that people should probably know the history and culture, the flavors and songs alongside Judaism. Submerge into all things Jewish, learn about Israel, its history and culture, and how it differs from those in the diaspora.
- Get to know God – Nothing is more Jewish than wrestling with God and coming to know and have a direct relationship with God. Start praying, go through the prayers daily, three-time a day as prescribed, and at meals.
- Be open and honest with your Rabbi – Self-explanatory, just remember they can’t help you learn if you don’t give them honest feedback and let them know where you are on the path.
- Hebrew – I strongly suggest learning Hebrew, to understand the prayers as you say them, to understand a lot of books, to understand… period!
These are some of the most important tips I would personally suggest, even if you’re only considering conversion they wouldn’t change. The best way to learn and comprehend Jewish wisdom and life is to jump in and explore the richness and diversity of Judaism and the Jewish people.