Congregation Beth El–Keser Israel

85 Harrison Street, New Haven, CT 06515-1724 | P: 203.389.2108 | office@beki.org

Our banner is based on BEKI’s stained glass, designed in 2008 by Cynthia Beth Rubin. For information on this and other of Cynthia’s work, go to: <a href="http://www.cbrubin.net" target="_blank">www.cbrubin.net</a>. Artisan Fabrication by JC Glass of Branford, CT

Jewish Conversion

The School of Judaism

The School of Judaism at Congregation Beth El-Keser Israel in New Haven provides a comprehensive program for adults and children seeking wholeness and holiness through becoming Jewish and for Jews who want to explore their relationship with their ancestral Tradition.

Open and non-judgmental, the School of Judaism provides a safe setting for the exploration and development of spiritual and communal identity.

For Jews who want to reclaim their Yiddishkeit (Jewishness), for those considering conversion (גרותֺ), and for those who just want to learn more, the School provides intellectual and social support for each person in their spiritual journey.

An individualized program of study and experiences is created for each student with the guidance of their mentor. The School is active year-round.

Equal opportunity for participation is afforded to all without respect to gender, marital status, ethnic background or income.

The School encourages participants to explore area synagogues and to become part of the synagogue-based community of their choice.

See our listing of ongoing adult education opportunities. For current classes and workshops, see the current issue of the BEKI Bulletin. See the Rabbi’s Reading List and a schedule of worship services. For information on how you can explore or prepare for conversion, contact Rabbi Tilsen at jjtilsen@beki.org or 203.389.2108 x10.

Cross-Registration Privileges for courses offered by participating Rabbis and neighboring institutions.


Hillel taught: Be like the disciples of Aaron: Love peace and pursue peace, Love all people by drawing them near to Torah. – Mishna Avot 1:12

Once a certain man came before Shammai and said to him, “Take me as a proselyte, but on condition that you teach me the entire Torah, all of it, while I stand on one foot.” Shammai instantly drove him away with a builder’s measuring rod he happened to have in his hand. When the man came before Hillel, Hillel agreed to make him a proselyte, saying “What you don’t like, don’t do to your neighbor this is the entire Torah, all of it; the rest is commentary. Go and study it.” – Talmud Berakhot 31a


Steps To Becoming Jewish

There is no single path for adults to becoming Jewish. A period of study and experimentation normally lasting at least nine months under the guidance of a mentor provides the candidate with the knowledge on which to base considered choices.

The School values the intellectual and spiritual integrity of each participant. Guidance is provided so that each person can make choices that are best for them. This may mean gaining a better understanding and appreciation for Judaism without conversion; or it may mean formal conversion after careful consideration. For all it means one stage in a continuing journey.

When the candidate and mentor are in agreement that the candidate is ready to convert and the nature of the commitment undertaken by the candidate is fully understood, a Beit Din (Rabbinic Court) meets to interview the candidate and consider the request. When approved, male candidates undergo symbolic circumcision (if already medically circumcised; otherwise, actual circumcision), and male and female candidates are immersed in a miqve (ritual pool) under the Beit Din’s supervision.

Children may be converted by the authority of the Beit Din by undergoing circumcision (for boys) and immersion in the miqve (for boys and girls).

All conversions completed through the New Haven Area Rabbinical Assembly’s Beit Din are fully in accord with halakha (Jewish Law) and are recognized in most jurisdictions including the State of Israel.


Mentors, Teachers and Advisors

  • Steven Fraade, Professor of the History of Judaism, Yale University
  • Rabbi Murray Levine, Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Beth Sholom, Framingham, Massachusetts
  • Rabbi Alan Lovins, Clinical Psychologist & Docent in Psychology, Yale University
  • Rabbi Jon-Jay Tilsen, Spiritual Leader of Congregation Beth El-Keser Israel

Institutional affiliations are given for purposes of identification only.

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