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The process of Giyur in Israel




The State of Israel adopted the Orthodox conversion process as the official conversion, and this is acceptable to all different streams of Judaism. This Guide is designed to help familiarize you with the various stages that you or your family must undergo during the conversion process.

3 steps of converting to Judaism in Israel



  • Step 1 - Opening a file in the conversion court
  • Step 2 - Studying in a Conversion Ulpan and The accompanying family
  • Step 3 - Ceremony in the Rabbinical Court, Circumcision and Immersion


Opening a file in the conversion court

In order to register for the conversion procedure you must first open a file at one of the conversion courts close to your place of residence, unless:
  • In special cases, such as groups of soldiers, youth groups, absorption center residents, etc., the entire group will be referred to the secretariat of the relevant court specializing in such cases.
  • Ethiopian origin applicants must face a special panel of rabbinical judges and must submit their request in the rabbinical courts in Jerusalem (7 Kanfey Nesharim St.), Kiryat Gat (64 Ha'azmaut Blvd.) or Hadera (58 Rothschild St.).
  • Minors wishing to undergo conversion process without their parents must apply to the court in Kiryat Gat.
  • Applicants wishing to convert as a family together with a spouse or children must open a conversion file for each family member separately.
If, for any reason, you wish to open a conversion file in a court far from your place of residence, you must submit an application with an explanation as to why, to the conversion courts administration.
List of Conversion courtsClick here


The special conversion Courts are located in four different locations around the country: Haifa, Tel Aviv, Kiryat Gat and Jerusalem.

Tel Aviv and Central District – for classes in Bat Yam, Tel Aviv Hebrew, Tel Aviv English, Herzliya, Ra’anana, Netanya classes, and the students of personal conversion of the Central District.

Beit Kalka, 116 Menachem Begin Road, 4th Floor, Tel Aviv (near the Azrieli Towers).

Fax: 03-7406126. Email: MichalGu@pmo.gov.il.

Central District Coordinator: Rivka Bondi


Southern District – for classes: Eilat, Dimona, Arad, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Rishon LeZion, and the students of Personal Conversion of the Southern District.

Shderot HaAtzmaut 64, Kiryat Gat.

Fax: 08-6620910, Email: tamard@pmo.gov.il.

District Rabbi: Rabbi Yitzchak Yakabovitch: 050-6229138


Jerusalem District – for the class of Petach Tikva

Kanfei Nesharim 24, First floor, Givat Shaul, Jerusalem.

Fax: 02-5099114/3. Email: MeitalT@pmo.gov.il


Haifa and Northern District – for classes: Carmiel, Kryot, Haifa, Chadera and the students of Personal Conversion of the Northern District.

Rabbinical Courts Buildings, Yalag 28, Second floor, room 210, Haifa

Fax: 04-8664996. Email: hanyyo@pmo.gov.il

District Coordinator: HaRav Shmaryahu Shore: 050-6229127


For further advice on the stages of the conversion process contact the Conversion department information center at the Prime Minister's Office by phone 02-5450100 or by email: devorahf@pmo.gov.il.

As part of the file opening procedure applicants will be asked to fill out a conversion application form which includes personal details: name, parents’ names, age, current religion, family status, profession and place of residence.

Attendance
All applicants for conversion must show up in person to register at the conversion court. If it is impossible for you to arrive, you may appoint a representative by power of attorney, and provide your representative with all the necessary documents. However, you must arrive for a personal interview at the court on subsequent sessions.
If you are married or about to be married to a Jewish partner , that partner must accompany you to court.

Applicants must provide all of the following documentation in order to open a file in the conversion court:
  •  A toll payment stub from the Postal Bank.
  •  Four passport photos of applicant.
  •  Identity card with appendix or passport and photocopy of identity card. Also spouse’s identity card where applicable.
  •   Summary of registration with the Population Administration as published in the previous month – you can submit the Hebrew application form by e-mail, letter or fax to the Ministry of the Interior Population Administration department, near you.
  •  Résumé (CV), including: explanation of your motivation on religious, social, relationship or family based grounds that helped you to reach the decision to convert. Please also mention any Jewish family members, links with Jewish community in Israel or abroad, instruction in Judaism, and any other relevant background material. If you previously submitted an application to convert, whether in Israel or abroad, please specify.
  •  Relevant documents, such as: civil marriage certificate, confirmation of instruction in Judaism, etc.
  •  Minors (under age 18) must present written approval for the conversion process from both parents. Parental approval may be given in court, alongside signed necessary documents or by means of a signed and stamped notarized declaration. Parents residing abroad may declare their agreement before the Israeli Consul in their country of residence. If one parent is unattainable for some reason, you may apply to the Family matters Court.
  •  Minors over the age of 10 must bring a letter confirming their wish to undergo the conversion process.
  • Conversion Application Questionnaire (Hebrew only)


After opening a file
Once the file is opened at the court, an initial interview will be conducted at the court secretariat with a representative of the District Court. It is recommended to make an appointment for file opening in advance, according to when the District Court representative is on the premises. At the end of the interview, the representative will explain the conversion process and refer the applicant to an Ulpan for instruction in Judaism.
NOTE! When leaving the court secretariat you must have a referral from the District Court representative to an Ulpan for instruction in Judaism. Without such referral, you will not be accepted for instruction.





Studying in a conversion Ulpan and The accompanying family

The learning quota in a Conversion Ulpan is between 400 to 500 hours of theoretical studies. Alongside academic instruction, the Ulpans also offer practical experiences, tours and visits to sites having a traditional value. Conversion Ulpans open when required and are not always operative. There are number of bodies which operate the Conversion Ulpans and offer various instruction programs in the following languages: Hebrew, English, Russian, Amharic, Spanish and French.

The Ministry of Education Conversion Ulpanim is the most established conversion program – over 15 years of activity. The conversion Ulpanim, are located throughout the country and open on demand. The instruction programs in the conversion Ulpanim comprise 500 hours of academic tuition spread over one to one and a half academic years. The programs are taught by rabbis, teachers approved by the Ministry of Education and the religious courts specializing in conversion. The instruction subjects ranges from Jewish thought, Halacha (Jewish law) and Bible to Jewish history.

Alongside academic instruction, the Ulpanim also offer practical experience such as spending Shabbat and Jewish holidays with Jewish families, participation in prayers and synagogue services, tours and visits to sites such as the wailing Wall, Yad Vashem and other relevant destinations around the country. To enroll at a conversion Ulpan, contact your regional conversion supervisor:
  • Northern Region: 04-8632728
  • Central Region: 03-6896024
  • Southern Region: 052-3354422
  • Jerusalem Region: 054-4431929
  • National Supervisor: 02-5601413
List of Conversion Ulpanim Click here
The different Ulpanim vary in terms of their instruction styles, teachers, instruction programs and the religious characteristics of the Ulpan. In addition, converts are required to adopt a religious lifestyle during the conversion process which includes: prays, fulfilling a mitzvah, visiting the synagogue, Niddah, etc.
This is why it is so important to assess the instruction program and to make sure that it is compatible with your religious aspirations, with your lifestyle and your family’s lifestyle, as the process will influence your family as well.
In some cases, the Rabanut may authorize private tuition by an authorized Rabi.
Soldiers may contact their Army Rabi and civilians may contact their local synagogues for further details.
NOTE:It is important to validate that the selected Ulpan is recognized by the Rabanut and is supervised by a rabbinical court representative. For more information contact the Conversion department call center at the Prime Minister's Office by phone 1-800-210-558.

Conversion programs
In addition, Jusaism studies may take place under various (non-profit) organizations.
List of Conversion programs Click here
The rabbinical court emissary is responsible for the personal relationship between the rabbinical court and the converts. This person conducts periodic conversations with the converts:  first when opening the conversion file, and last in the end of the conversion course. In addition, the emissary keeps in constant touch with the conversion teachers and supervises the instruction program. The emissary will observe your lifestyle and will assist you in case you have a question or face some difficulties. At the end of the conversion process, the emissary provides his recommendations to the rabbinical court.
If, for some reason, the emissary has decided to reject your conversion, you will be able to appeal by a letter to the management of the conversion court at:
7 Kanfey Nesharim St. Jerusalem.


The accompanying family
The accompanying family also accompanies the potential convert from the start of his instruction at the conversion Ulpan. The role of this family is to teach the potential convert the meaning of a Jewish lifestyle and how to put everything he learns into practice. The family will host the convert for Friday dinners, will introduce the synagogue, will help turn convert's home Kosher and will provide moral support until the end of the conversion process. Since some converts are alone in Israel without family or friends. In this manner, the accompanying family helps the convert in his absorption into Israeli society on both a social and a spiritual level.

At the end of the conversion in the rabbinical court sitting, converts will be required to present a recommendation letter made by the accompanying family. Alternatively, family representative may join the sitting of the rabbinical court. This letter of recommendation must be presented to the court by the family, or handed in a sealed envelope to the potential convert or to the court emissary for delivery to the court.

How to locate an accompanying family
In most cases, the teacher in the Ulpan is responsible for finding an appropriate family for each convert. In case of religious relatives or acquaintances (not parents), converts may submit their details to the Ulpan and request that they’ll act as accompanying family.

The organizations below may assist you in finding an accompanying family:
  • The Conversion Division in The Prime Minister's Office – provides assistance throughout the conversion process, from the enrolment to the Ulpan, finding an accompanying family, performance of the conversion ceremony and provision of a conversion identity.
  • Itim institute – provides information on Jewish life cycle, including the conversion process and finding a suitable accompanying family.





Ceremony in the Rabbinical Court, Circumcision and Immersion

After completion of one year’s instruction at a conversion Ulpan, the Ulpan’s staff and the accompanying family escort the candidate to the conversion court. The main role of the courts is to declare the principle acceptance of the applicant to the body of the Jewish people.
Applicants are requested to dress modestly for a court appearance. It is also recommended to bring family members or close friends, as well as the accompanying family's members.

During the discussion, which takes about an hour, converts will be asked about the course materials and about the conversion process. It is recommended to prepare for the discussion which deals also with non-religious aspects of the conversion. Converts will be asked, for example, to state the motivation for conversion and to describe views and lifestyle.

Following the discussion, the court may conduct a private conversation with accompanying relatives and may even ask to speak with the ulapn course teacher.

In the end of the discussion, the dayanim decide whether to accept the conversion application or to reject it. If your application has been rejected, you will receive a list items that you need to improved. You may be scheduled an additional discussion in a few weeks time, asking you to fulfill certain tasks during the interim.

If your application has been accepted, you will undergo conversion ceremony, the Dayanim will ask you to state your Hebrew name for which they will issue the reference to the immersion in the Mikveh and the Brit Mila.

Please make sure to choose a Hebrew name in advance and to arrive bearing the following documents:
  • Identity card including current appendix, or passport
  • Letters of recommendation from the accompanying family, as well as additional recommendations from the rabbi of the synagogue attend and from any religious people with whom you are in contact.

If you have acquired Jewish and Halachic knowledge without attending a conversion Ulpan and you already lead a traditional Jewish lifestyle, you may apply to the court to undergo conversion without any preconditions, other than an interview with court representatives and recommendations. This procedure is conditional on written consent from the director of the conversion court.


Circumcision
Upon conclusion of the discussion in the conversion court, converts will receive a letter referring to a Brit Milah (Circumcision) process. The Brit Milah procedure will be conducted in one of the medical centers authorized by the Rabanut by a professional doctor and a Mohel. The ceremony is required also if your foreskin was removed in a ritual that was not Jewish or according to Halacha, or for converts who were born with no foreskin. In this case a "shedding of blood" ritual will be performed. This is a simpler procedure which involves a small pin prick to the man’s penis. 3 weeks after this procedure, immersion in Mikveh may be scheduled.

Immersion ritual
The final stage in your conversion process is the immersion in the MIkveh. In most cases, the conversion courts open dedicated MIkvehs in specific dates for concentrated immersion throughout the country. However, you may ask the court representative to accompany you in your local MIkveh.

In the case of women’s immersion, Women may be asked to perform a pregnancy test to make sure that a pregnancy has not started before the completion of the conversion process.

Before the immersion, the court representative may ask you questions about issues studied in the Ulpan, and it is highly recommended to go through the theoretical materials of the course.


Court decision and potential convert’s declaration
if the court decides to accept the candidate’s application, a brief ceremony is conducted, in which the candidate expresses his desire to affiliate himself with the Jewish people throughout the generations by means of the following declaration:
“I undertake to be a loyal member of the Jewish people and uphold and fulfill all the mitzvot of the Torah and all the mitzvot of the sages and all of the customs of kashrut of the Jewish people and I believe in one God.”
The convert then recites aloud the most famous Jewish declaration of faith:
Sh'ma Yisrael Adonai Eloheynu Adonai Echad (“Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One”).
The dayanim bless the new convert with the pronouncement: Baruch ha’ba, b’sha’a tova u’b’mazal tov (“Welcome, best wishes and congratulations”).

After conversion
At the end of the conversion process converts receive a conversion certificate from the Israeli rabbinical courts. This takes about two months after which, you may submit the certificate to the Ministry of the Interior and change your name officially in the Israel’s Population Administration.

Now you are recognized as “Jewish for all intents and purposes” and may marry other Jewish persons in the Rabanut. The certificates issued by the conversion courts on completion of the conversion process are recognized by various Rabbinates in Israel and by Jewish communities in other countries.




Sources: www.gov.il




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