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I’m seriously interested in converting from Baptist to Judaism. I am aware of the local synagogues in my area, but I’m unsure on which to approach and any protocols.

For example; should I go during the week to inquire? Should I call to make an appointment? Should I attend service and then inquire? (Awkward since I have never attended , but I’m adventurous so that’s not a deterrent.) Is ethnicity a challenge in southern synagogues?

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There is absolutely no harm in visiting the synagogue! Look online to see if you can find the synagogue's website. There, it should have contact information for individuals looking to visit. Call or email ahead to ask when would be appropriate for you to visit, and who you can talk to about becoming Jewish. Make sure you do research on the synagogue/rabbi. Not all rabbis perform conversions, and of those who do, not all are recognized by the Rabbinical Council of America or the Israeli chief rabbinate. If you do wish to pursue an Orthodox conversion, it'd be best to complete under the supervision of a reputable rabbi and beit din the first time. Otherwise, questions on the validity of your Jewish status could come up, and that can cause all kinds of hassle when making Aliyah, moving to a new community, or getting married.

If you do not wish to convert Orthodox, but wish to convert Conservative, you still need to find a reputable rabbi and beit din to be recognized throughout the conservative community. While you can make Aliyah under the law of return with a conservative conversion, you will not be recognized as a Jew by the chief rabbinate or the larger orthodox community. Instead of the RCA, you'd be looking for Rabbinical Assembly associated individuals.

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Conversion to Judaism is a major life change, therefore it is much, much more difficult to convert to Judaism than it is to convert to other religions. You must examine your motives for conversion before actually pursuing it. Why do you want to be Jewish? Do you want to become closer to G-d? Unlike other religions, Judaism does not teach that in order to please G-d you must be Jewish. Non-Jews can serve G-d just as well as any born Jew can, by observing the Seven Noahide Laws and living a righteous life.

I would recommend speaking to your local Orthodox rabbi and talking with him about your interest in conversion. He can either help you himself or put you in the right direction.

It is important to note that conversion to Reform or Conservative Judaism does not make you Jewish according to traditional Jewish law. In order to be accepted by everyone as a true Jewish convert, you must go through an Orthodox conversion. Do not settle for anything less.

Ethnicity is not something that has ever been focused on in Judaism, and historically most Jews I have ever known in my life (myself included) have not been racist. But as with any group of people, you will most certainly find people who will be concerned with this. But understand they do not represent Judaism's thoughts on race and ethnicity at all. Besides, Jewish people come in all sorts of colors - there are Jews all over the racial spectrum.

Hatzlachah rabbah (good luck) in your journey!

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Get in touch with the Rabbinical Council of America

305 Seventh Avenue, 12th Floor New York, New York 10001

Phone 1: 212-807-9000 Phone 2: 212-741-7522 Fax: 212-727-8452

To contact the Rabbinical Council of America by email office@rabbis.org

Rabbi Mark Dratch, Executive Vice President mdratch@rabbis.org

Rabbi Elazar Muskin, President President@rabbis.org

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