Converting to Judaism is a serious undertaking. It is our hope that the information you find here can help you in your exploration. For more information, or to schedule an appointment to find out if our program is right for you, please contact Rabbi Brian Serle | 608-784-2708

Program Overview

CSOA offers a comprehensive program for people who are considering conversion. We seek to equip people with tools and knowledge to determine if Judaism is right for them.

Through the CSOA Jews by Choice (JBC) program, participants will:

  • Be familiar with Jewish concepts and values
  • Be able to read Hebrew
  • Know how to create a Jewish environment at home
  • Be comfortable participating in Jewish holidays and lifecycle events
  • Feel confident as full members of the Jewish community
  • Build a foundation upon which to continue Jewish learning

Students must frequently attend our Zoom Shabbat morning services or Friday evening Kabbalat services, or both. They are a good way to learn some of the basic melodies and prayers in a learning environment.

The JBC program also includes supplementary activities, such as learners’ services, field trips (after the pandemic – including the mikvah, other synagogues for services, the Chicago or Milwaukee Holocaust museums), and social activities (Shabbat dinners and other gatherings).

Additionally, there is a weekly email providing information on the weekly Torah portion, upcoming classes and community events and issues related to Jewish life in general.

There are a few written assignments during the course of the program. Most are brief, except a final collection of essays which are presented to the beit din prior to meeting.

Our rabbi can help students with questions and concerns, and is a valuable source for guidance and support.

Action Steps

The CSOA JBC Action Steps are your guide to living a Jewish life. This is a month-by-month individual plan to build your Jewish practice at home. You work at your own pace, selecting steps which are the easiest for you, gradually building your level of observance.

JBC program participants include members of the LGBTQ community, a variety of ethnic backgrounds and people of all ages. Students include singles who are on their own spiritual journey, intermarried couples (with and without children), and couples who are engaged or contemplating marriage.

Recommended Reading

The following texts support the comprehensive curriculum and cover topics taught in our classes.   All of the listed books can be purchased at Barnes and Noble, either in person or by special order, as well as Amazon and  There are so many other books that will help you in your journey.  We have a number of these in our library for you to borrow.  But many students want to build their own Jewish library, either virtual or digital.

  • Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), The Jewish Publication Society translation.
    Please note that this text is available in either English only, or English and Hebrew. The English / Hebrew version is a little more expensive, but will be of great value as you study Hebrew.
  • The Jewish Holidays by Michael Strassfeld or The Jewish Way: Living the Holidays by Yitz Greenberg
  • Shabbat: The Family Guide to Preparing for and Celebrating the Sabbath by Ron Wolfson, 2nd Edition
  • The Sabbath by Abraham Joshua Heschel
  • To Life! A Celebration of Jewish Being and Thinking by Harold Kushner
  • A Short History of the Jewish People by Raymond Scheindlin
  • Jewish Literacy by Joseph Telushkin
  • How to Keep Kosher by Lise Stern
  • Saying Kaddish by Anita Diamant
  • The New Jewish Wedding by Anita Diamant
  • Night by Elie Weisel
  • Entering Jewish Prayer by Reuven Hammer
  • As a Driven Leaf by Milton Steinberg
  • Book of Jewish Belief by Louis Jacobs
  • Living a Jewish Life by Howard Cooper
  • Shalom Aleichem – Learn to Read the Hebrew Prayer Book, by Noah Golinkin
  • The Jewish Holiday, by Michael Strassfeld
  • Choosing a Jewish Life, by Anita Diamant