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What are the rules for a divorced woman to become Jewish. IE is it permitted, can a Jewish home be kept, and can the children still be considered members? Are there prohibitions for such a situation in an Orthodox sense. Does it matter if she was reform converted in the past and then married in a civil ceremony?

***I am not necessarily considering this for myself. I want to convert to Orthodox Judaism, but am not sure if my husband will be willing to take that step. If he's not, then I'll consider. I just want to convert, and don't know all the ramifications to that. Reason I ask is there's two school age children involved, so they would be affected. I do know this is an incredibly complex answer, so I've been researching everything I can PLUS I will be conversing with a Rabbi if my husband is willing (excluding him if he's not). I guess my main questions are what options would I possibly have in this situation.

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It sounds like whoever's asking this question is going through a great deal of upheaval of a both personal and religious nature, and would greatly benefit from speaking with a competent rabbi in-person.

Nonetheless, let's address the theory here:

  • First off, Judaism allows for divorce -- for both Jews (under Halacha) and non-Jews (under Noachide Law). A divorcee is not a sinner or a leper or whatnot.

  • Being divorced in and of itself makes no difference as far as the rules of conversion per se, but in all cases of conversion, the rabbinic panel will ask questions such as "are there people in your life who will make your observance of mitzvos difficult?" If there is an ex still in the picture, or children with joint custody, or children around who are old enough to object to kosher or Shabbat, the rabbis will need to understand that better. They wouldn't be doing a convert any favors converting them if two weeks later, halacha is driving a wedge between them and their family.

  • If a parent converts, the children do not automatically become Jewish; they need their own conversions. If the children are young and all parents fully supportive, the process to add in the children isn't very complicated.

  • Generally speaking, a Reform conversion is not considered halachic conversion according to Orthodox rabbis, so that would be makes no difference per se. It would be the same as if it's someone who'd never seen Judaism before.

    • Again, the interpersonal dynamics can get complicated. Suppose two years ago, the parents signed a divorce agreement whereby both of them would meet with the kids at Lenny's Kosher-Style Restaurant for a one-hour Passover Seder, followed by bowling. And that met everyone's religious needs at the time. Now if one parent demands the kids spend a four-hour seder at their house and spend the night ... that can cause a lot of friction ... and if God forbid that goes back in front of a judge, it will get very messy.
  • In short: there are certainly no laws against a divorcee converting; but please consult a good rabbi in-person about how that would actually play out and what's the best way to proceed in your particular case.

  • Thank you! That is kinda what is going on. It's a LOT more complicated than that, but I just had that one question to get me started. I'm in conversation with one now. I appreciate your help. – Tami Jul 8 '18 at 5:24
  • You may also want to consult with an Orthodox therapist or Rabbi who works with children of divorce to get some sense of which challenges your family may face. – LN6595 Nov 16 '18 at 2:18

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