Q: I'm part of an interfaith couple - Does my Jewish partner have to take the class with me?
A: We encourage both members of an interfaith couple to attend Intro. Many couples find it helpful if both partners take the course. Jewish partners frequently tell us that they enjoyed the class and had the opportunity to learn many things about Judaism that they had not learned growing up. This also gives the Jewish partner the opportunity to share the Jewish learning experience with their partner. We do realize that work and child care commitments do not always make this possible. If your partner cannot attend the class, they can join you for a particular session that you feel it is important for them to attend.
Q: Is Introduction to Judaism the right course for me/us? Will there be other people like me/us attending?
A: There is no "typical" Intro participant but there will definitely be other interfaith couples in your class. Both couples and individuals take the course. Our participants come from a variety of religious and racial backgrounds. Gay and lesbian couples frequently participate in Intro. Some of our participants are Jewish individuals who want to reconnect and/or learn more about Judaism.
Q: Is Introduction to Judaism a conversion class?
A: No, although many people take Intro as part of the conversion process, there is no expectation that class participants are going to convert.
Q: I am thinking about converting to Judaism, but do not know what is involved.
A: In the Reform branch of Judaism, conversion is a process that individuals pursue one-on-one with the support of Reform clergy. As part of the conversion process, clergy like students to take the Introduction to Judaism course. However, the course alone is not all that a person would do. Most clergy like individuals to spend 8 months to a year of working one-on-one with them. During part of this time, the individual would be attending the Intro course. In addition, they would be going through a year of the Jewish holiday cycle, attending religious services regularly and having a Jewish home. At the end of the time that the clergy and individual agree upon there would be a conversion ceremony. Some people opt to have a private ceremony at the clergy's office. Or the ceremony can be a part of a Shabbat service at a congregation. Every person's exploration of and/or conversion to Judaism is different and there is no fixed timetable that one must adhere to.
Q: I am thinking about conversion, but still do not know if it is right for me. Is it appropriate to go talk to a clergy person?
A: Yes, Reform rabbis and cantors are your partners on your Jewish exploration journey. Just because a person speaks with clergy about conversion does not commit them to anything. Clergy want to help individuals make the best decision for themselves at that particular point in their lives. Since conversion is an important and personal process, it is fine if an individual has to speak with several clergy before connecting with someone that they feel comfortable working with.
Q: Do I have to be a member of a congregation to work with a clergy person towards conversion?
A: No. However, working with a clergy person and regularly attending services is a great way to start making connections at a congregation.
Q: Are materials included in the registration fee?
A: Yes, your registration fee covers all of your books and materials. You will receive these on the first night of class.
Q: How far in advance do I need to register?
A: Introduction to Judaism registration varies. In some classes there is room until the day the class begins, others fill up weeks before the course is due to start. If there is a particular class that you want to be in, try to send your registration at least 4 weeks prior to the start of that particular course.
Q: What is a Referring Rabbi and do I need one?
A: Please note that we ask each participant/couple enrolling in Introduction to Judaism to have a sponsoring clergy relationship with a rabbi or cantor to guide and support you as you learn about Judaism. Your selected rabbi or cantor will help personalize the course and respond to any personal religious questions that may come up for you as you integrate this learning experience with your own personal faith background. We encourage you to meet with your sponsoring clergy several times during the course. Our Reform clergy look forward to working with our Introduction to Judaism students to personalize the classroom experience and to meet with you to respond to questions you may have about Jewish life, belief and practice. All of our clergy anticipate receiving calls from our students asking them to be clergy sponsors. We are happy to provide recommendations if you do not already have a relationship with a rabbi or cantor. Please call us at 781-449-0404 x12 to facilitate your connection with a referring rabbi.
Q: Is there a lot of "homework" for this course?
A: While there are weekly reading assignments, there are no papers or exams for this course. There are short exercises to help you become familiar with the Hebrew alphabet that should take no more then 10-15 minutes per chapter. Lastly, we recommend that participants keep a "journal" - a record of one's exploration of Judaism. The class binder includes several journal assignments on specific topics that can be answered in a couple of short paragraphs.
Q: Will I receive some sort of certificate at the end of this course?
A: Participants who miss no more then 3 sessions will receive certificates of completion for the course