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Who is a Jew: Conversion and the State of Israel

Guidelines and Policies

The question of "who is a Jew" is one of the hardest and most divisive in the country. Issues of who can perform a conversion and questions of descent not only determine who is Jewish, but often who is allowed to work, travel, and even live in Israel. The following section includes information on many of these issues .


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Anicent MikvahHistory of Conversion

Contemporary secondary sources

The Jewish view of conversion has a long and complicated history. This section includes scholarly articles that deal with conversion to Judaism and examine that subject's major trends throughout history. Moving through the biblical, rabbinic, medieval and early modern era, this section will give a broad overview of some of the recent scholarship around conversion and its history.


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Pen and Paper clip artReflections from Recent Jews by Choice

Poetry and Personal Refections

Hearing other's stories is helpful both as a means of understanding where conversionary families are coming from and as a springboard for discussion. The following section includes helpful first-person accounts of their experience as conversion students and later as members of the Jewish people. This section will link heavily to participants from the URJs Introduction to Judaism program as well as sites such as and Tablet Mag.


This section is mainly reflections. For more formal statements of conversion by Jews by Choice during their conversions, visit our Covenant Statement section.


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Rabbinic Exemplars

Living Sources

Many Rabbis are working toward creating welcoming, powerful communities through a variety of avenues.   This section provides a series of Rabbis that have been working hard to put keruv on the agenda, and are happy to hear from Clergy in the field who are striving to do the same.


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Poetry from Recent Jews By Choice

Poetry and Personal Refections

Often the most powerful expressions of joy, questioning, worry, and ambivalence are found not in prose, but in poetry. The following section includes a growing number of poetic expressions from or to recent Jews by choice.


Read more: Poetry from Recent Jews By Choice