When someone converts is there any determining factor on what minhagim (customs) they will take upon themselves in terms of Ashkanazim or Sephardim? Should it be dependent on the Beis Din they converted with? May they choose to do however they please (picking one or the other.) R' Ovadia Yosef Shlit"a has a Teshuva in ShuT Yachaveh Das Chelek 5 Siman 33 where he writes that someone who converts in Eretz Yisrael must take on the Minhagim of the Sephardim. Since he holds that Maran Beit Yosef the Machaber of the Shulchan Aruch is the "Morah D'Asra" in Eretz Yisrael and after someone converts they are considered to be like a baby that is just born. And since the person converted in Eretz Yisrael it's as if he was "born" in Eretz Yisael therefore he must take upon himself the minhag of the Sephardim. If there are more mareh makomos (sources) to this or savaras one way or the other please share!

(In both situations I'm asking, someone who converts outside of Eretz Yisrael and someone who converts in Eretz Yisrael.)

  • But there are different traditions within any place, including Eretz Yisrael. If you were "born" into a Sephardi community then what you say makes sense, but if you were "born" into an Ashkenazi community (olim) I would expect you to follow them. No sources, though. Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 13:47
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    @MonicaCellio - You're right. The point of R' Ovadia Yosef Shlit"a is perhaps less about "minhagim" and more that they will follow halacha according to the Sephardim which is in someways more universal then minhagim by Sephardim. Although R' Ovadia Yosef I'm sure means that they should follow his idea of Halacha and Sephardi Minhagim
    – Yehoshua
    Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 13:55
  • Make that three times.
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 14:08
  • @DoubleAA - I'm from R' Ovadia's Biggest Chassidim ;)
    – Yehoshua
    Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 14:14
  • I seem to recall this as a dupe....
    – msh210
    Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 17:06

3 Answers 3


Speaking as a convert whose great-great-great-great-great grandfather was born a Sephardi Jew (America's first Jewish governor, David Emanuel (Georgia 1801)), one might have thought I should have adopted Sephardi practices. The rabbi who was m'geiur me, Rabbi Bertram Leff, shlita, never accepted that. Someone who converts is considered like a new-born child (Yevamos 22a) and, therefore, is not tied to any particular set of customs. I followed the principal expressed in Pirkei Avos 1:6 that one should make for himself a teacher, i.e. I followed the minhagim of my rabbi, an Ashkenazi. However, Rabbi Leff acknowledged that he had converts previously who had moved far to the right, one becoming a Hasid and a Neturei Karta member. He said he didn't object to his students adopting chumras that he personally did not observe, but he drew the line at hatred toward the state of Israel and told the convert that had he known he would head in that direction, he never would have approved the conversion.

I know many converts who cherry-pick their minhagim, collecting chumra after chumra. Based on my own experience, I've always suspected that they do so because they are insecure about how they are accepted as Jewish among other Jews (after 32 years, I'm way passed that stage). I think that they should be consistent with how their Rav holds, but my good friend, Rabbi Daniel Pollock, shlita, a rebbe at Yeshivas Madreigas Ha'adam, strongly disagrees with me. It's not the only thing we disagree about, but we're still great friends. The point is, there really isn't a set rule on this issue and the convert has relative freedom to choose.

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    Not sure if this is important, but Neturei Karta are not hasidim. They are Litvaks, and they follow minhagei haGra.
    – Shimon bM
    Commented Mar 9, 2013 at 2:40
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    This is entirely mistaken. Neturei Karta is a sect which is an off-shoot of Satmar Chassidim. While many Litvak's adhere in principle to the same logic that the State of Israel is to be met with derision at failing to uphold itself as a Jewish, religious state, nonetheless, this is where the uniformity ends. Neturei Karta follow Rav Yoel Teitelbaum's rulings (the past Satmar Rebbe) as to how to conduct oneself. They are hardly in the purview of mainstream litvishe minhagim. They also do not follow the customs of the Gr"a - the Gr"a was very mucn in favor of settling in Eretz Yisrael.
    – user18362
    Commented Dec 4, 2018 at 12:20
  • Neturei Karta is a group that was founded to accommodate those that broke off from the Aguda and later even distanced from the Edah Chareidis because of opposition to engage with the zionists. Just like these two organizations, Neturei Karta is just an organization with basic tenets that accomodates various people, it is not a sect with uniform minhagim, one rebbe, etc. Like Rabbi Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld, the founder Amram Blau was a non-hasidic oberlander jew, followers of the Chasam Sofer. If settling in Eretz Yisrael makes you a zionist the founders of Neturei Karta were zionists too.
    – Leonardo
    Commented Jan 13, 2023 at 16:13

As every Rav will tell you, minhag is something passed along through inheritance. The minhagim originate from the unique practice of each tribe.

For gerim (Jewish male converts) they have no obligation in regard to specific minhagim, meaning like Ashkenazi or Sephardi, etc. practice. This Halacha was decided explicitly by Moshe Rabbeinu in the case involving the Jewish woman who was married to the Egyptian convert. That convert and consequently his wife, who had been a part of one tribe, were no longer included as part of that tribe or any other tribe.

Similarly, since the land of Israel is apportioned by tribe, converts have no inheritance in the land just like Leviim and Cohanim.

Just as Cohanim represent all of the Jewish people, so too gerim are an embodiment of this principle.

The only minhag they follow is minhag Yisroel, which means a practice which was accepted by all Jews like for example lighting 8 candles for Channukah instead of the minimum requirement of one candle.

Contrary to being something less, gerim do what is common to all Jews. They are a living example of the unity and oneness of the Jewish people. They may partake of any minhag if they find it meaningful but with the understanding that they are not bound and restricted by it. In the end, this mobility of the ger demonstrates the legitimacy of all the Minhagim. No traditional approach is invalid. All the Jewish people are "kosher".

For a female Jewish convert, she follows the Halacha that all Jewish women follow. When she marries, she takes on the minhag of her husband. This idea is also in keeping with the decision made by Moshe Rabbeinu mentioned above.

  • 4
    Thanks for your post and welcome to Mi Yodeya! Sources would make it a better answer.
    – andrewmh20
    Commented Mar 24, 2013 at 18:33
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    Ashkenazi and Sephardic minhagim were around back then?
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 24, 2013 at 20:01
  • you may want to see judaism.stackexchange.com/help/merging-accounts
    – Double AA
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 13:14
  • Woman taking on the minhagim of her husband is true in all cases, not just for converts. An Ashkenazi woman marrying a Sefardi man would take on his minhagim, for example suddenly eating kitniyot during Passover. Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 22:00

It is important for male converts to chose a set minhag in order to properly fulfill several mitzvot such as wrapping tefilin, putting on talit, and performing lulav and etrog. Simply adopting "Minhag Yisroel" is not sufficient.

While there is some freedom in choosing a minhag, it is recommended that potential converts seek guidance from a Rav. Regardless of whether they choose an Ashkenazi or Sephardi minhag, it is beneficial for the convert's identity as a Jew, their children's Jewish identities, and the Jewish identities of future generations to maintain a consistent minhag.

If available it is an option in the converting community/area, I highly recommend someone converting to select a Sephardi minhag.

  • Welcome to MiYodeya Benaya and thanks for this first answer. Since MY is different from other sites you might be used to, see here for a guide which might help understand the site. Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    Commented Jul 21, 2019 at 1:49

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