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Umwandlung to Judentum (Giyur)


NOTE: This page has been created not in order to promote Umwandlung to Judentum or to try to convince anyone on this purpose, but because the Giyur topic has been asked many times and unfortunately there is no enough Informationen über it over the internet.
Therefore we're at israelforus.com try to bring some clarity and more Informationen über this topic for those who are looking for answers.


Umwandlung to Judentum (Giyur) is a Prozess in which a person changes his current religion to Judentum. It's a formal act undertaken by a non-Jewish person who wishes to be recognized as a full member of a Jewish community by a religious act and usuAlley an expression of association with the Jewish people and, sometimes, the Land of Israel.
A formal Umwandlung is also sometimes undertaken to remove any doubt as to the Jewishness of a person who wishes to be considered a Jew.
Any individual, regardless of former religion, race, color or sex, is eligible to apply for Umwandlung.

There are four requirements for a Umwandlung to Judentum:
  • The convert is required to understand and accept the duties of the classical Jewish law.
  • Circumcision (Brit Milah or hatafat dam brit) for men.
  • Immersion (Tevilah) in a ritual bath (Mikveh) for both men and women
  • Offering a certain sacrifice (Korban) in the Temple (Beit HaMikdash) – this requirement is irrelevant nowadays.
After confirming that Alle these requirements have been met, the Beit Din issues a "Certificate of Umwandlung" (Shtar Giur), certifying that the person is now a Jew.

Modern practice
The requirements for Umwandlungs vary somewhat within the different branches of Judentum, so whether or not a Umwandlung is recognized by another denomination is often an issue fraught with religious politics. The Orthodox rejection of non-Orthodox Umwandlungs is derived less from qualms with the Umwandlung Prozess itself, since Conservative and even some Reform Umwandlungs are ostensibly very similar to Orthodox Umwandlungs with respect to duration and content, but rather the belief that a non-Orthodox Rabbi is not qualified to oversee and perform a Umwandlung.
In general, immersion in the mikveh is an important part of a traditional Umwandlung. If the person who is converting is male, circumcision is a part of the traditional Umwandlung Prozess as well. If the male who is converting has already been circumcised, then a ritual removal of a single drop of blood will take place. However, more liberal branches of Judentum have a more relaxed requirement of immersion and circumcision.
Someone who was converted to Judentum as a child has an option of rejecting this after reaching the age of maturity, which in Judentum is age twelve for girls or thirteen for boys.

Umwandlung and Aliyah

In 1948 Israel was established as a State which would be of, by, and for Jews. Israel's Law of Return automaticAlley granted Israeli citizenship to anyone anywhere in the world who is a Jew. This law magnified the need to distinguish between Jews and non-Jews, and led to further conflict between orthodox and liberal Jews over which Umwandlungs were kosher and should be acceptable in Israel.

The Law of return applies to:
  • Those born Jews (having a Jewish mother or maternal grandmother),
  • Those with Jewish ancestry (having a Jewish father or grandfather)
  • Those who are converts to Judentum (Orthodox, Reform, or Conservative denominations—not secular—though Reform and Conservative Umwandlungs must take place outside the state, similar to civil marriages).declaring that the converting rabbi and congregation are recognized members of the Reform Movement around the world, and that their Umwandlungs should be recognized for the purpose of the Law of Return.


Some of the Umwandlungs performed overseas have some difficulties to make Aliyah, because of practices that are deemed unacceptable in Israel. For example:
  • The Umwandlung was performed by a single rabbi, with no Bet Din.
  • The convert's wife was one of the witnesses signed on the Umwandlung certificate.
  • The Umwandlung was performed for a spouse, when neither his partner nor children converted with him.
  • The Umwandlung procedure was very short, with no continued involvement in the Jewish community following the Umwandlung.
  • The Umwandlung was completed without "mila" or "tevila".
Not only do these situations put the converts in a problematic situation, because they believed that their Umwandlung was valid and acceptable but they received a negative response when they wished to make Aliyah. Furthermore, they gave the Interior Ministry grounds to claim that Reform Umwandlungs are not serious and justification for seeking to check the Prozess.

The Israel Religious Action Center
The Israel Religious Action Center, in consultation with the Bet Din of the Israel Council of Progressive Rabbis (MARAM), helps Reform and Conservative converts from around the world receive Aliyah status under the Law of Return on the basis of their Umwandlung to Judentum.

For help and support please write to: center@irac.org

Umwandlung from within Israel

Israel is a Jewish state and eligible for Umwandlung are Israeli citizens, or any foreign citizens holding an A5 Visa according to the Law of Return.
A prerequisite for Umwandlung is possession of Israeli citizenship. Foreign citizens whose immigration to Israel has been approved are entitled to go through the Umwandlung Prozess in Israel after presenting an approval certificate of ALIYA right from the Jewish Agency.

If your status is different, or if you hold a permanent residency ( A5 Visa) you must apply to a Vaadat Charigim (Committee for irregular Cases) for permission to appear before the a rabbinic court that ultimately decides whether or not to Alleow Umwandlung. For further Informationen, please contact the Umwandlung Division in The Prime Minister's Office, Tel.: +972-2-5450100.

Groups applying for Umwandlung
Applicants to the Umwandlung courts comprise a number of principal groups: Click here for details

Children of Jewish fathers with a Jewish identity
Many immigrants from the Ehemalige Sowjetunion and other Eastern European countries were born to a Jewish father and raised in a home where there was a strong Jewish identity and adherence to mitzvot, such as eating matzot during Passover and Celebrating other Jewish holidays. Thus, when they arrive in Israel they wish to further reinforce their Jewish identity and undergo a formal Umwandlung according to Halacha.

Immigrants arriving in Israel under the Law of Return
Immigrants coming to Israel as second or third generation descendants under the Law of Return. Some of those immigrants may not have led a Jewish lifestyle in their countries of origin but now seek to accept the heritage of their father or grandfather.

Immigrants from Ethiopia 
Immigrants belonging to the Falash Mura tribe, or who underwent a forced Umwandlung to another religion, must appear before the Umwandlung court to “shed the blood of circumcision” (this involves a mohel making a small scratch on the penis to produce a drop of blood symbolizing circumcision) and immersion in a mikveh.

Bnei Menashe from India
Descendants of the ancient tribe of Menashe who settled in the Indian states of Mizoram and Manipur, who wish to immigrate to Israel, must undergo Umwandlung according to the Halacha in a Umwandlung court.

Men and women married to a Jew by civil marriage
if a couple wishes to marry according to the laws of Israel (according to Halacha), under a chupah (wedding canopy) and with ritual sanctification (kidushin), even though one of them is not Jewish, the couple must then apply to the Umwandlung court so that the non-Jewish member may undergo an Halachic Umwandlung.

Couples wishing to register for marriage
As a result of the massive immigration to Israel from various countries around the world, some couples who wish to register their marriage at their local Rabbinate are surprised to find that one of them is not considered fully Jewish according to Halacha. A Reform or Conservative Umwandlung abroad, or any form of Umwandlung Prozess that is not recognized by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel may not be satisfactory and the couple may not be able to marry until their status is resolved.

Adopted children
In recent years several organizations have been active in helping adopted children into Israel from countries around the world, including: Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Guatemala and the Far East. An adopted child born to a non-Jewish family must undergo Umwandlung of a minor.

“Spiritual converts”
A “spiritual convert” is a person who is not Jewish yet decides to convert to Judentum as a result of an in-depth thought Prozess, investigation and a conviction that Judentum is the religion he believes in.

The Umwandlung Prozess consists of the five following steps:
  1. Presenting documents and enrolling to Umwandlung Prozess
  2. Judentum Studien in a Umwandlung course
  3. Applying to a Umwandlung court
  4. A ceremony in the Rabbinical court which includes an immersion in a Mikveh (women and men) and performing a Brit Mila (men).
  5. Getting a Umwandlung certificate and updating religion status in the Ministry of Interior.
Any person who successfully completes the Umwandlung Prozess then becomes a “Jew for Alle intents and purposes” and his status is identical to that of any other Jew, born to a Jewish mother. The Prozess is irreversible and once you have been declared Jewish, you will not be able to convert back to your previous religion.

Orthodox Umwandlung

Orthodox Umwandlung is the only accepted form of Umwandlung by the Israeli Orthodox authority which gives the ability to have in Israel Alle the religious benefits as a Jew, such as to be able to have an Orthodox marriage and to be burried in a Jewish cemetery.
The Orthodox Umwandlung is known as the most strict and consists the following mandatory rituals:
  1. Judentum Studien in a Umwandlung course, or by a official orthodox Rabbi.

  2. A ceremony in the Rabbinical court which includes an immersion in a Mikveh (women and men) and performing a Brit Mila (men).

The major disagreement between the Orthodox and the more liberal denominations concerning the Umwandlung Prozess is over the need for the convert to accept the yoke of the commandments which means making a lifelong commitment to Orthodoxy.

  • Recognition as a Jew by Ministry of Interior - Ability to immigrate to Israel (Aliyah) and to get Israeli Citizenship.
  • Full recognition as a Jew by Ministry of Religious Services - Jewish Marriage and Jewish burial.

Conservative Umwandlung

The Conservative Umwandlung is similar to the Orthodox Umwandlung but just in a lighter way.

The first step in converting to Judentum is finding a Rabbi. In the conservative movement your teacher/mentor doesnt have to be an official orthodox Rabbi, but a known Rabbi among the conservative congregation.

The learning with the Rabbi should take über nine months of instruction. This amount of time is necessary to become familiar with the Jewish calendar (Rosh HaShana through Shavuot - at least), to learn über Jewish history, Jewish philosophy and theology, Jewish holy books, Jewish Law and customs (life cycle events, holidays, ...), and a reading fluency with Jewish worship for home and synagogue.

Besides the learning also the Immersion in the ritual bath (mikveh) and, for men, circumcision (brit milah) or symbolic circumcision (hatafat dam brit) fulfill the Conservative movement's Umwandlung requirements.

  • Recognition as a Jew by Ministry of Interior - Ability to immigrate to Israel (Aliyah) and to get Israeli Citizenship.

Reform Umwandlung

In the United States of America, Reform Judentum rejects the concept that any rules or rituals should be considered necessary for Umwandlung to Judentum. In the late 19th century, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the official body of American Reform rabbis, formAlley resolved to permit the admission of converts "without any initiatory rite, ceremony, or observance whatever."

Although this resolution has often been examined criticAlley by many Reform rabbis, the resolution still remains the official policy of American Reform Judentum Thus, American Reform Judentum does not require ritual immersion in a mikveh, circumcision, or acceptance of mitzvot as normative. Appearance before a Bet Din is recommended, but is not considered necessary. Converts are asked to commit to religious standards set by the local Reform community.

Since the Reform movement emphasizes the obligation of the individual to make informed Jewish choices über their practice, it is difficult to "pin down" normative Reform movement practice for comparison purposes. While the Reform Movement does occasionAlley adopt non-binding resolutions recommending particular practices, requirements for life-cycle rituals are determined by individual Reform rabbis (instead of by the movement). Reform rabbis, in contrast to Conservative and Orthodox rabbis, are not obligated by their movement to perform Umwandlungs in one particular way.

In practice, the overwhelming majority of Reform rabbis today require study, ritual circumcision (or hatafat dam brit) and immersion in a mikveh. Some Reform rabbis, however, will make exceptions regarding circumcision and will skip this requierment.

  • Recognition as a Jew by Ministry of Interior - Ability to immigrate to Israel (Aliyah) and to get Israeli Citizenship. Although the Ministry of Interior might make some difficulties über it.
    For more details click here

Umwandlung of minors

Minors can be converted. In families with a non-Jewish mother and a Jewish father, the child is considered Jewish by the Reform movement if the child is brought up engaging in public acts of identification with Judentum. Orthodox and Conservative Judentum, however, do not regard such a child as legAlley Jewish.
Parents of such children can if they wish have their children converted in infancy because the Prozess is quite simple. While some would consider this a surrender to pressure especiAlley from the Orthodox and refuse to do it, others see it as a way to get recognition of the child's Jewishness by additional segments of the Jewish people.
Reform rabbis often simply have a naming ceremony. Orthodox and Conservative rabbis require the mikveh for a female minor and a circumcision and mikveh for a male minor.

Children born prior to the end of Umwandlung do not become Jews if their parent converts. Some authorities (often Orthodox and those of higher levels of observance) have stricter rules, considering a child conceived before Umwandlung as not being HalachicAlley Jewish. If they want to be Jewish, they will have to go through Umwandlung themselves after they reach the age of 13. Children born to a Jewish woman AFTER she has converted are Jewish automaticAlley.

Sources: Wikipedia.com, Judentum.über.com, www.gov.il

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