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A candidate for conversion to Judaism appears to be very sincere, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, dedicated, and is not suspected of having ulterior motives. But he states that he does not intend to inform his family of his conversion. Is there anything in halacha that would prevent his acceptance?

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    Does he intend to continue acting as a non-Jew vis-a-vis his family?
    – The GRAPKE
    Sep 21 '20 at 3:51
  • One can think of many possible case variations. I just wonder if halacha addresses the generic issue. Sep 21 '20 at 13:14
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    Does Halakha address any issue about conversion besides willingness to accept the commandments? Why would we expect it to discuss this particular scenario?
    – Double AA
    Sep 21 '20 at 14:39
  • When we convert we only convert a person not anyone else. And if they're not ulterior motives then I don't see why we'd have to prevent the conversion Bc his (not Jewish) family doesn't know
    – TwoOs
    Sep 25 '20 at 4:54
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I'm not seeing a black-and-white rule on this one, but any wise beit din (conversion panel) should look at the whole picture -- are we setting this person up for success? Are there any red flags here?

(How often does the candidate intend to interact with their non-Jewish family? How old/independent is everyone? What is their "game plan" for said interactions? When and if the family does find out, how are they likely to react, and what would the candidate then do?)

For example, the Rabbinical Council of America's Geirut Policies, Protocols, and Standards do includes this:

The Beit Din should also consider whether other significant individuals in the candidate’s life such as parents, or any existing minor children, will have an impact on the success or failure of the process and the aftermath of conversion.

Basically this is going to be a reasonable judgment call for the local rabbis.

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I was closely involved in a case one month ago of a 14-year-old convert with a (non-custodial) Jewish father. The boy's mother's written consent was required for the gerut to take place.

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  • Makes sense when a minor is converted. Sep 22 '20 at 17:26
  • Absolutely. Clearly stemming from civil law rather than halacha (halachically speaking a 14 year old is a gadol, after all)
    – Josh K
    Sep 22 '20 at 18:33
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As an issue of halacha apparently you don't have to.

If you did then we would be locking the door of conversion to anyone who grew up in a very anti-Semitic family.

The Midrash Tanchuma (Mishpatim 5) discusses the conversion of Onkeles, nephew of Roman emperor Hadrian.He did not inform there beforehand but used a ruse beforehand to avoid his wrath afterwards. He did tell them afterwards and Hadrian's advisors said to kill him.

Hadrian said not to kill him but according to l'havdil secular historians his memory was still expunged from the official Roman records. Hadrian's sister who is named as the mother of Onkeles in the Midrash officially had no sons. Or at least had none listed on the royal family records.

On a practical level however it is unlikely a Beis Din would agree to convert someone knowing they intend to keep it a secret from the family

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  • But would a bet din even ask that question? Sep 21 '20 at 15:31
  • It would come up . The only Beis Din I'm familiar with who does conversions requires potential converts to be psychologically evaluated to rule out psychological issues being the motive for the conversion.
    – Schmerel
    Sep 21 '20 at 15:38
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    Not telling parents to avoid giving them pain is not a "motive for the conversion". Sep 22 '20 at 17:28

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