Have Her Convert?
I’ve been dating a young woman for the past two years and we are starting to think about marriage. The problem is that she is not Jewish. I would want her to convert, but in a way where there would be no doubt about its validity, so that we and our kids don’t have problems later on. How do you recommend that I proceed?
The Aish Rabbi Replies
I appreciate your desire to do the right thing and proceed in an authentic way.
The process of conversion is challenging and may easily take 1-2 years. This serves to benefit the conversion candidate, as it ensures he fully appreciates the responsibilities he is taking on.
According to the Code of Jewish Law (Shulchan Aruch), a valid conversion replicates the experience at Mount Sinai of 3,300 years ago, when the Jewish nation accepted the Torah. For your friend to convert, she must:
- believe in God who gave the Torah to the Jewish people
- believe that Judaism is the true religion, not just accept it by default
- study what it says in the Torah
- commit to observe all the Torah's commandments
Further, a conversion must be motivated for the sincere purpose of getting close to God and His Torah, not for ulterior motives. Thus, your friend would have to embrace Judaism and the Torah for its own sake, not in order to marry you. She should have the exact same desire to convert even with you entirely out of the picture.
If your friend studies Judaism and feels it is right for her, she would then approach an Orthodox conversion court and explain her situation. The court would then decide if it feels she is a sincere candidate for conversion. If yes, she would begin the lengthy process of studying and practicing to become a true convert.
Of course, to have a successful relationship, you will also need a high level of appreciation and commitment to Judaism. Perhaps you could begin your own study program to discover how Torah values enhance our lives and form the bedrock of civilization.
You should endeavor to live near a Jewish community which has adult education programs, rabbis you can consult with, and Shabbat hospitality programs.
Also, you should acquire a basic Jewish library for your home.
For one-on-one Jewish learning – by phone or in person, for free, at a time that's good for you – contact jinspire.org.