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 Conversion to Judaism if spouse is not Jewish

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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Conversion to Judaism if spouse is not Jewish   Sun Feb 10, 2013 7:48 pm

This issue comes up from time to time:
Can a person convert to Judaism if they are married to a non-Jewish spouse who is not interested in converting with them?

The answer is generally "no" for Orthodox conversion, "yes" for Reform conversion, and "maybe" for Conservative conversion.

Here is an official opinion written in 1993 that was accepted by the Committee on Jewish Laws and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly (of the Conservative Movement):
The Case of the Unconverted Spouse

The above opinion ruled that it is acceptable to convert a person to Judaism if they are married to a non-Jewish spouse. However it is clear from the vote of 8 in favor, 11 against, and 4 abstaining, that it is not accepted by all Conservative rabbis. Note that there are many reasons why rabbis may vote against or abstain and without a dissenting opinion, you can't really know what about the ruling they disagreed with or had reservations about.

The result is that some Conservative rabbis will absolutely not supervise conversions for people married to non-Jewish spouses, but some will, and I suspect for the latter case, it will depend somewhat on the situation. For example, I do not think many rabbis will want to do a conversion if the spouse objects or is not supportive. I happen to know of a couple in my minyan in which the wife converted under Conservative auspices early in their marriage along with their first child who was a baby, but the husband did not because although he supported his wife's conversion, he was still not sure of his own religious feelings. Some years later, the husband did convert.
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Mychal

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PostSubject: Re: Conversion to Judaism if spouse is not Jewish   Tue Feb 12, 2013 12:20 am

I'm converting Conservative, but my spouse is not, and my rabbi hasn't had any problem with it. (He just converted a friend of mine who is in the same situation--although she usually attends the Orthodox synagogue--and was going to convert a gay friend whose partner was not going to convert, until he decided not to pursue conversion.) He asked if my spouse was okay with me converting, and I said that he was, and that's pretty much all that's come up; he's never even met my spouse.

I started out in a Reform synagogue, and the two rabbis there--after me attending a year and waiting on them--couldn't find the time to work with me, so you never know what rabbi will or won't work with you. Even in denominations which encourage conversions, individual rabbis can refuse to do them for any number of reasons.
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James

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PostSubject: Re: Conversion to Judaism if spouse is not Jewish   Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:43 am

I also converted under a conservative rabbi, but he was very hesitant because my wife was not converting as well. It wasn't until he finally understood that she didn't practice any religion at all that he agreed to do it.

For him, keeping a Jewish home and raising our kids as Jews was paramount.
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: Conversion to Judaism if spouse is not Jewish   Tue Feb 12, 2013 2:08 pm

Raising one's children as Jews is an extremely important commandment. It even occurs twice in the Shema, both in the first and second paragraphs. The Shema is probably the most important of all Jewish prayers and is supposed to be said twice a day.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Conversion to Judaism if spouse is not Jewish   Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:46 pm

My Conservative Rabbi had to meet my husband before any decisions were made. After meeting him, he determined it would be fine to continue. I actually ended up working with someone else for entirely different reasons. I may, in the future, do another "conversion". I took classes with that shul that so I can persue that route if I would like to do so in the upcoming months, or years.
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ConvertConfidential



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PostSubject: Re: Conversion to Judaism if spouse is not Jewish   Fri Feb 15, 2013 12:11 pm

I'm converting to Reform Judaism, though my fiance was raised Conservative/Modern Orthodox. If anyone is interested in learning more about this experience and the process, please take a look at my blog: www.convertconfidential.com
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