Frequently Asked Questions
Can my partner come with me to classes?
Yes, we encourage both partners in a relationship to attend all classes and programs together. The material one learns in class assists you, as a couple, to discuss your religious and spiritual life and how you see forming and acting upon these aspects of your life together.
What if I am partnered with someone who is not Jewish and does not plan on becoming Jewish?
We work with individuals to support them as they create a Jewish life for themselves in this context. CSOA has dual-faith families and families where one member is identified Jewishly and the other is not religious, but is supportive to the partner and to raising Jewish children. Our rabbi and www.interfaithfamily.com are helpful resources for these couples.
How long will it take to complete the program?
The length of your time in the JBC program depends on when you begin. Other factors include life circumstances and time you have to dedicate to the classes and experiences. 9-12 months is usually the minimum amount of study time.
We do not make assumptions about when you will feel ready to complete your conversion and check in regularly to ascertain a good timeline, we want to make sure the program is working for you as you form your Jewish identity and create your Jewish life. Participation in classes and experiences is required, as is living a year of Jewish holidays.
What if I have to miss a class?
Attendance is taken at all JBC classes, events and field trips. While we expect this program to be a top priority for participants, we do realize that you may have obligations that require you to miss a class or two over the course of the year.
Do I have to attend synagogue services?
Participants are expected to attend Shabbat morning services at least twice a month, as well as to attend one other service monthly. Additional services may include weekday, holiday, or Shabbat evening services, and may be attended at any synagogue or community. Attendance at the synagogue of your choice is required for all holidays.
If I am a male, will I need to be circumcised or need a Hatafat Dam Brit?
Yes, all men must be circumcised in order to convert to Judaism. Those who are already medically circumcised undergo a ritual prior to immersing in the mikvah. This ritual, called Hatafat Dam Brit, is performed by a ritual circumciser (mohel) or physician, and involves the symbolic and painless drawing of a small drop of blood, entering you into the covenant. We can provide the contact information for a La Crosse doctor who has worked with many adults who need circumcision.
When can I start?
Students can start at any time. Many people start in September, in order to take advantage of High Holy Days services.
How much does it cost?
We do not charge a fee for this education. However, you are responsible for purchasing any required or optional books and materials. Also, once you convert, you are expected to join this or another congregation.
Will there be additional costs?
There is an additional fee for the St. Paul mikvah (presently $150), and if you are a male there is a fee for the mohel or doctor at the time of the brit or hatafat dam brit.
Will my conversion be accepted in other movements of Judaism?
Conservative, Reconstructionist and Reform communities will accept a conversion completed through CSOA. At present, your Bet Din consists of Conservative rabbis in the Twin Cities, giving you a widely accepted conversion ceremony and certificate.
In more traditional branches of Judaism, few conversions are accepted except those performed by known rabbis in those communities, or especially in Israel.
Will my conversion be accepted in Israel?
JBC students can make Aliyah as Jews. however this is recognition through the Ministry of the Interior. The Rabbanut (Orthodox Rabbinic authority in Israel) does not accept non-Orthodox conversions. Many Israelis, especially those in the Israeli Masorti (Conservative) movement and the IMPJ Progressive Judaism (Reform) movement would be happy to embrace those converted according to Jewish law by Conservative rabbis abroad.
Will I meet with a beit din?
After completion of essay questions, and mastering your knowledge of Judaism, you will meet with the beit din, comprised of Conservative rabbis in the Twin Cities. If you have a close relationship with a rabbi in a nearby community, he or she is welcome to be a part of the beit din.
Will I go to the mikvah?
Yes, we require all candidates to immerse in a mikvah. We use the Saint Paul Community Mikvah.
Do I have to be a member of CSOA to be in the JBC program?
No, you do not have to be a member. Only adult Jews – or their partners – can be members of CSOA. While you are enrolled in the program, you are encouraged to take advantage of the full range of services, speakers, programs and celebrations that occur at CSOA, and when there is a charge you can use the member rate. Once completing the program, you are asked to become a member of our shul. Membership rates are flexible, depending on your circumstances and financial needs.
What if I am not planning on affiliating with another congregation when I am done?
We have graduates who follow a variety of paths to observance and affiliation after graduating from the program. It is not a requirement to affiliate with CSOA. We do hope you take advantage of all CSOA has to offer during your enrollment in the program, in order to get to know the community and our rabbi.
What if I am already married?
We have a number of participants who are already married and then choose to follow a path to conversion. After completion it provides an opportunity to celebrate with a Jewish wedding.
What if I am a member of the LGBTQ+ community?
The CSOA community welcomes all who are on a path to learn about Judaism. We strive to meet everyone where they are. Some of our students are members of the LGBTQ community.
If I have already started studying with a rabbi elsewhere, can I skip some of the CSOA program and finish the program faster?
We have had cases such as this. Absolutely you can move faster through the program, after we have gained a fuller picture of your previous learning.