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Orthodox Judaism/Baby boy to be born jewish

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QUESTION: Dear Rabbi,

I hope this message finds you well. It is a rather tricky question I think- we are a non jewish marriedcouple that has lived a Jewish life style for approximately 1 year now including Shabbos dinners, occasionally attending shul, learning Hebrew and the general jewish laws. Until now we did not formally decide to convert to judaism and gave it the last year to think about. After a year of " living jewish" we have come to the conclusion that we would both like to convert. We know have a baby boy on the way and knowing that it is a lengthy process to convert wondered if there is any way that the little boy could be born jewish still?

Many thanks for your time?

ANSWER: Hi Julia

I'm sorry, I somehow missed this question. A few questions of my own: Have you been in touch with any rabbis? How about religious Jewish families? Are you in Johannesburg?

Your first port of call is to contact the Johannesburg Beth Din to find out more about the conversion process. If your baby is born before the conversion happens, which seems most likely, the baby will undergo a conversion ceremony of his/her own (which will be mostly a formality).

Please feel free to be in touch if you have further questions.

Kind regards,

Rabbi Shishler

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Rabbi Shishler,

Thank you so much for your response. We are based in Sunninghill/Johannesburg and the Shul closed to us is the Chabad in Gallo Manor. However we do not know anyone there and have to attended yet. Our "family" ties lie with the Chabad in Lyndhurst and we have attended some Friday evenings/ Saturday mornings and most of the Yom Tov's over the past year. When I say family ties I don't mean direct blood relations but the family of my husbands best friend to whom we are very very close and who's parents consider my husband as their 3rd son. So pretty much by default my husband got his own jewish education since his youth. Gareth, my husband comes from a extremely religious (Christian) background which he rejected from a young age as inter alia, the concept of trinity made absolute no sense to him. He says he learned to love Judaism because it remains constant whilst Christianity forever changes and progresses.

A big turning point in our life's occurred last year when Gareth' friend passed away after a sudden but terrible battle with leukemia. Both Rabbi Carlebach and Rabbi Spinner were amazing and supported Gareth throughout the 30 days of mourning and beyond. Gareth was absolutely crushed but found great solace in the readings. Whilst he always respected and loved Judaism he never felt the need to convert but somewhat slowly our whole life turned around and many questions always led to the same answer- conversion. We decided to go with the flow and see how we feel and try to follow as many rules as possible and experience as much as possible before approaching a rabbi or the Beth din. We didnt want to make a hasty or emotional decision.

As for myself, I tried to educate myself as much as possible and attended JLI courses and a short Hebrew crash course at the sandton central chabad. This week I attended the talks of Bronya Schaffer on marriage and relationships. I have attended a kosher cooking course.

We have been hesitant to contact the Beth din in regards to conversion- I think more or less out of fear of rejection. It is so hard to describe why one would like to convert and to proof that it would be a life long commitment. I think we would have continued to procrastinate if it wasn't for our little boy. We wish for him to be Jewish and regret that we did not take actions earlier in order to fulfill this wish before he would be born.

I hope this message makes sense and explains a little were we are coming from.


Thank you and have a great day,

Julia

Answer
Hi Julia

Interesting story! It sounds like you are moving in the right direction. Please feel free to be in touch at any point or to come along to our Shul in Strathavon as well.

May Hashem guide you on the path that is best suited for you.

Kind regards,

Rabbi Shishler  

Orthodox Judaism

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Rabbi Ari Shishler

Expertise

I am a rabbi who loves teaching, through writing and speaking. In 1999, my wife and I started our own Chabad House and it's grown exponentially. I'm also the learning director at Chabad House of Johannesburg, a high school teacher and the father of young children. As you can imagine, I get to answer lots of questions every day. I'd be glad to answer your questions on Judaism, Jewish spirituality and practice.

Experience

I have been a practicing Orthodox rabbi since 1997 and have headed my own community since 1999. I teach Talmud at a religious high school in Johannesburg and give daily lectures to adults on Jewish practice, spiritualty, Chassidic philosophy and Kabbalah. I'm the campus rabbi at our two major universities in Johannesburg.

Organizations
Chabad-Lubavitch South African Rabbinical Association.

Publications
Monthly column in Jewish Life magazine, South Africa. Jewish Tradition, South Africa. Jewish Report, South Africa. South African Union of Jewish Students annual Holiday guide. Jewish Observer, South Africa. Nshei Chabad Newsletter, NY. Jewish Online Magazine. www.chabad.org

Education/Credentials
After completing high scool, I spent six years studying in Rabbinical seminaries in South Africa, Israel and New York.

Past/Present Clients
www.chabad.org www.askmoses.com ChaiFM (www.chaifm.com) Jewish Life magazine

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