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I have seen some articles on here about conversion but it seems to me like most of it has to do with the Orthodox movement, whereas I am concerned more with Reform as it seems to hold the same values/ideals I see as valid as important to them.

I am a Noahide who does pray daily and observes certain aspects of judaism (such as refraining from pork and taking some time out of each day for "religious reading"), however I am going through a lot in life right now however I am considering conversion once things settle down a bit. I want to convert because judaism holds many values such as ethical monotheism, charity, consistency, and community and is culturally similar in some ways to my own background (North Indian/Kashmiri).

I do have some reason to believe that it is possible that I have some distant Jewish roots from the Iraqi or Persian Jews or possibly other tribes that came into the areas my known ancestors are from, however, my basis for conversion to Judaism would lie in the fact that it is the religion that speaks to me the most and that being a Noahide leaves you a little bit lost and without identity/spiritual guidance. My parents are really supportive and despite everything happening I think they would definetly encourage me to do this if it is what I want.

I would like some opinions/answers on the following questions if anyone has the time:

Would this limit me to only marrying someone who is also Jewish? ( I don't have any issues with it at all but i am only 18 and still have college so its just a lot to think about now)

Would people question or look at me differently because I am a convert ( I could pass off as Persian mixed with some European)

Does it make sense to convert if many of the prayers have to do with ancestry, when it is currently understood that I do not have any Jewish ancestry?

Would I still be able to live life like I usually do and have religion be something I can adhere to and devote time to daily, without having to isolate or limit myself to the Jewish community? ( I want to be balanced and still be able to go out and do things with friends and family and have a somewhat flexible schedule much like the average American christian barring Shabbat restrictions)

I would like to spend time/live/ or possibly study in Israel, will being a reform convert affect any of that? (From what I understand the Orthodox movement would not consider me to be properly Jewish?)

Thank you for reading and hopefully giving your honest opinions/answers on this important aspect of my life, I wish you the best!

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This is a pretty broad question. If you want to drill into any of these issues I recommend splitting off a separate question about just that topic.

Would this limit me to only marrying someone who is also Jewish?

According to halacha (Jewish law), we are to marry other Jews and marriages with non-Jews are not recognized as valid. Intermarried couples nonetheless tend to be welcomed in Reform (and other liberal) communities, on the reasoning that it's better to keep channels open with the Jew than to exclude him (particularly if that Jew might produce children later).

However, as a convert you will be held to a higher standard: are you really throwing your lot with the Jewish people if you reject such a fundamental requirement? The rabbi you study with and the beit din (rabbinic court) that oversees your conversion might require you to pledge to marry Jewish.

Would people question or look at me differently because I am a convert

Probably not. First, we're not supposed to ask, and second, if people do know, within the Reform community their reaction is likely to be positive, not negative. I've seen a lot of converts in the ~15 years I've been part of my Reform congregation, and the reaction is, nearly universally, one of welcoming and happiness that the person finds value in Judaism.

Does it make sense to convert if many of the prayers have to do with ancestry, when it is currently understood that I do not have any Jewish ancestry?

The Rambam (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, a.k.a. Maimonides) addresses your question (citation needed). A convert is the adopted child of Avraham and Sarah, fully part of the Jewish people, and even if you don't share bloodlines you now share lineage.

Would I still be able to live life like I usually do and have religion be something I can adhere to and devote time to daily, without having to isolate or limit myself to the Jewish community? ( I want to be balanced and still be able to go out and do things with friends and family and have a somewhat flexible schedule much like the average American christian barring Shabbat restrictions)

If you're asking "do I have to go live in a shtetl or study in yeshiva full-time and never see my friends", no. Jews, and liberal Jews in particular, live in the world, not separate from it. (The Chareidim you may read about are the exception, not the rule.) But you should convert with the intention of being a full-time Jew, with all that it entails -- Shabbat, holidays, how and what you eat, prayer, and more. You should expect your rabbi and the beit din to ask you about this, and they will also expect you to start living as a Jew before you convert. As above, the precise requirements of any given rabbi or beit din are beyond the scope of this answer. Talk with them. Conversion requires study over an extended period; you will have many conversations about matters like these with your rabbi.

I would like to spend time/live/ or possibly study in Israel, will being a reform convert affect any of that? (From what I understand the Orthodox movement would not consider me to be properly Jewish?)

The Orthodox movement will not consider you to be Jewish, nor will the Israeli rabbinate. This will carry some restrictions on you. You can still visit or live in Israel, and there are Reform communities there. You can also study at cross-denominational institutes like Pardes and Shalom Hartman.

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Quick Note: I am a Jew of Orthodox affiliation. I will try to steer clear of stating my own thoughts, ideas, etc. I will, however, tell you where Orthodox and Reform Judaism diverge on various issues.

I advise you to look through all of your options before undertaking such a large lifestyle change. Conversion to Judaism is more than just changing your belief, it's about changing your entire lifestyle. I understand your current "spiritual boredom", so to speak, with being a Noahide, but I encourage you to explore ways to "spice up" your spiritual life. Talk to a rabbi about your issues. Explore all of your options. Think many times before you leap.

Reform Judaism differs from Orthodox Judaism in many ways, but one of those ways is that Reform Judaism allows its followers much, much more room when it comes to living the life they want. In all actuality, Reform Judaism basically lacks any physical restrictions. Whereas an Orthodox Jew cannot eat a ham sandwich, marry a non-Jew, or drive on the Sabbath, for a Reform Jew any restriction is up to the individual to apply to himself.

Intermarriage is strictly forbidden in traditional Judaism, and in years past it was only "frowned upon" in Reform circles, but in recent years interfaith marriages have been tolerated, and even completely accepted in Reform communities. It is not uncommon for a Reform rabbi to administer an interfaith marriage.

Yes, of course you can still "live life" with religion. Orthodox Judaism does forbid many things, but ask any Orthodox Jew and he'll tell you that he definitely has a life. Judaism is more of a way of life than a "religion", in the sense that it has more to do with your everyday routine than a slogan on a bumber sticker. To a Jew, lip service is only half of the equation.

Nevertheless, there are things which one is forbidden to do, and it gets stricter the more traditional you go. However, in Reform Judaism you can basically do whatever you want with no consequences, though what is considered moral, upright, etc. varies on the community.

So yes, you can still watch movies, read novels, go places with friends, and, in Reform Judaism, eat whatever you please.

I don't have much experience with the State of Israel, but being a Reform convert could cause complications in your studying abroad, though I'm not certain. In all honesty, even though there are Reform communities in Israel, you will probably get along much, much better in the States living as a Reform Jew. Israel has a completely different attitude.

I wish you all the luck in the world in your spiritual journey. Kol Tuv.

TL;DR: Reform Judaism is accepting of basically any kind of lifestyle you want to live. Your looks don't matter in the least. You can still live a life and have religion. Make sure to explore all of your options, and talk to a rabbi. Good luck in your journey.

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This is a broad group of questions. Please permit me a focused answer. By the time you read to the end, I hope you will understand why I think there's no need to address each part individually.

You seem like a serious, sincere and intelligent person. That, and the questions you ask, suggest to me that you are a terrible candidate for a Reform conversion. I have met many serious, sincere and intelligent people who had a Reform conversion, in an Orthodox synagogue, after their Orthodox conversion. They all realized that Reform was not for them, and, really, not even a thing: it's whatever you want it to be. (I say all of this with the handicap of having grown up in the Reform movement myself.) Thoughtful and sincere Reform converts usually become disillusioned with Reform fairly quickly, and either leave Judaism entirely, or pursue a Conservative or Orthodox conversion. (Sadly, Conservative today is little different from Reform; I know multiple people who converted to Judaism 3 times.)

I suggest you look into one of the Noahide societies. There are 3 fairly easy to find on the web, headquartered in Texas, the U.K., and Jerusalem. You may well discover that you are perfect as you are, and just need the companionship of like-minded people, and some learning. I know some people active in that movement, and they are some of the nicest people I know (and I know some really nice people).

If, after some time giving that a try, you still want to convert, I suggest you'd be better served with an Orthodox conversion. Partly because the Orthodox don't proselytize, most non-Orthodox have an extremely inaccurate view of what Orthodoxy, and the Orthodox, are all about (I know I did). I say this knowing that an Orthodox conversion typically takes at least 2 years, while 2 weeks is not out of the question for the Reform. Truth is: it takes most people that long to learn and understand what Judaism is and how to live as a Jew. Of course, you're free to decide it's not for you at any time before conversion.

  • Two weeks? I've never heard of such a case. The Reform converts I know all studied for at least a year, some a lot longer. – Monica Cellio Mar 28 at 14:02
  • @MonicaCellio I know one fellow who told me his conversion "cost" $2,000 (USD) and it was only 2 weeks before he took a dunk in the JCC swimming pool to "make it official". I fear I don't have the imagination to make any of that up. I imagine a "less expensive" conversion would take longer. – Jeffiekins Apr 1 at 15:21
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    that sounds like fraud. The CCAR (Reform rabbinic body) has standards for conversions, and what you describe violates them. – Monica Cellio Apr 1 at 15:28
  • I agree. But as loosely regulated as the Orthodox rabbinate is, the Reform make them look like bankers by comparison. – Jeffiekins Jun 24 at 22:34
  • For all its other faults, the Reform rabbinate actually has a single central body. The Orthodox rabbinate has several and they don't always accept each others' rulings, conversions, or possibly other status-affecting actions. – Monica Cellio Jun 24 at 23:08

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