Reform Judaism/converting...


Akiva wrote at 2009-02-23 14:12:18
Rabbi, your answer is misleading:

1)"I was just wondering if there's a way for a guy to convert to Judaism without having to circumcise?". Yes, it is called BRIT HADAHM. You may elect to have a Brit HaDam, a slight pinprick done by a Mohel so that a drop of blood shows.

This procedure is ONLY done for those who are already circumcised. A potential convert who is not circumcised MUST undergo circumcision to become a Jew.

Gerrit wrote at 2013-02-18 19:02:37
I am not Jewish myself, but my fascination with Israel and the Jewish people have made me decide to study Hebrew. Now I am still at very basic level, since the first year the teacher put a heavy focus on fully understanding and mastering the Hebrew alphabet. So I can fluently read and write Hebrew alphabet, but I would not just know the translation of any word. I assume our teacher had a good reason for teaching the alphabet before starting basic vocabulary and grammar. But thanks to this course, which was co-organised by a local Jewish community, we were also given teachings on Judaism itself, some other students wanted to convert and for people like me who are not believers they still thought it was never bad to have some knowledge of Judaism.

To answer your question (but again, a rabbi may be better placed to answer) : I have never heard of the BRIT HADAHM being accepted for conversion. Several orthodox jews I have met emphasise that the brit mitzvah is an essential step to enter the convenant. Converts who do not have the brit mitzvah are likely to be rejected, especially in orthodox conversion. However, many secular Jews told me they still are loyal to the brit mitzvah out of cultural reasons, even when they do not observe most other mitzvot. The BRIT HADAHM is done more and more by Jews who reject circumcision, and thus adopted the BRIT HADAHM as alternative. Since many of those children are born from Jewish parents, they don't have to worry that BRIT HADAHM would exclude them from Judaism, while for a convert this is likely to be different since you are not born Jewish and thus have to "enter" the religion. If you are born from a jewish mother and they opt for BRIT HADAHM, then simply having a jewish mother means that the child will be considered Jewish no matter what.

I am not aware if humanist judaism, reform or liberal judaism, accept Brit Hadahm for converts, but I never heard of this. There is a lobby group called "Jews against circumcision" who heavily advocate the Brit Hadahm. They however state that while they encourage conversion without circumcision, they regret to inform potential converts that only a rabbi can officially complete the Giur process and thus your acceptance without circumcision depends on the will or non-will of the rabbi. You may want to search a rabbi who can do the conversion with Brit Hadahm, however I wouldn't really know how to trace which rabbi accepts or doesn't accept the method. It is probably also a very odd thing to ask a rabbi if he can redirect you to a colleague who will do the Brit Hadahm. Maybe the best bet for a convert in your situation, is to contact the Jews Against Circumcision movement and ask if they can get you in touch with converts who did not get circumcised.

Mazel tov! :)

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Rabbi Chaim Bender


I will answer questions about Judaism in general, Reform, Conservative and Orthodox as well. I will answer questions about converting to Judaism, and questions about why Jews do not believe in a risen messiah. I try to stay away from politics.


Rabbi. Interfaith outreach. Teacher.

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