In recent years, there have been some rabbis that have addressed the issue of Jewish return in an alternative way to traditional conversion, including Chief Rabbis Ovadia Yosef and Shlomo Amar who ruled that the Falash Mura (the descendants of Ethiopian Jews who had been forcibly converted to Christianity) were Jewish and eligible for Aliyah immigration to the State of Israel.
Some rabbis, like renowned Torah scholar Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik, ruled that the Anousim should be treated as full Jews in “every way”. Others, like HaRav Mordechai Eliahu (of blessed memory), had created a CERTIFICATE OF RETURN specifically for Bnei Anousim who wish to formally return to Judaism.
Although any candidate for such a status must be able to have strong evidence(s) validating the claim of confirmed Jewish identity, some in fact do have significant evidences (not just DNA testing, although it is helpful) to prove athentic Jewishness and are awarded a CERTIFICATE OF RETURN
HALACHIC JEWISH CONVERSION is the decision to convert to Judaism, to embrace all of its laws and customs, will affect virtually every aspect of your life: where you live, what and where you eat, where and how you socialize, the relationships you will have with family members, where your children will go to school and camp, what kind of work you do and the expectations of the workplace in terms of work hours, travel, and socializing.
It is a commitment that cannot be made without extensive thought, learning and preparation. The process of conversion to Judaism is a lengthy one. Before a beit din (rabbinic court) will approve the conversion, its members must be positive that you are fully knowledgeable and committed to observing all of the laws and precepts of Judaism, that you are fully integrated into the Jewish way of life and are comfortable in the Jewish community – that you will be able to live a full, happy and productive life as a Jew.
JEWISH MARRIAGE is not merely a secular legal partnership, but a union sanctified by G-d. Marital obligations, therefore, are not merely personal, but have implications for universal harmony. The existence of G-d as a “silent partner” in Jewish marriage endows a relationship with sanctity and solemn commitment.
Judaism views marriage as the basis of human companionship and the cornerstone of Jewish community. As the venue for fulfillment of the biblical commandment of p’ru u’rvu, be fruitful and multiply, Jewish marriage is also the basis of Jewish survival.
In addition, a Beit Din is not required in having a Halachic Jewish marriage performed. This can be done by a recognized Orthodox Jewish Rabbi, however proof of halachic Jewish identity is required. For many whom are returning as Bnei Anousim, most often a Beit Din is utilized in order to confirm halachic Jewish status of both of the marriage partners before the marriage of the couple under the Chupah.
Suggested curriculum of study for conversion/return applicant
Please note that these are topics of general study and are subject to modification per the request of your assigned Beit Din
Category #1. Jewish Law – The candidate must have a working knowledge and appreciation of Jewish law. They must be properly prepared to live an observant lifestyle.
Laws of Shabbat
Laws of Yom Tov
Laws of Kashrut
Laws of Berachot
Laws of Taharat Ha’Mishpacha (Family Purity)
Laws of Bein Adom L’chaveiro including tzedaka, etc.
Category #2. The Jewish Calendar – The candidate must recognize and understand the Jewish months, and significant dates on the Jewish calendar including holidays, fast days, Rosh Chodesh, Tu B’Shvat, etc. The candidate must experience and observe minimally one complete cycle of the Jewish
“The Book of Our Heritage”, Rabbi Eliyahu KiTov
Category #3. Prayer – In addition to learning to read Hebrew, the candidate must be able to navigate around a Siddur, understand the obligations of prayer, the different types of prayer, when to stand, sit, etc.
“To Pray as a Jew,” Rabbi Irving Donin
“The Art of Jewish Prayer,” Lisa Aiken, Jason Aronson
Secondary to the basic topics, above, are these other topics.
Category #4. The Jewish Lifecycle – The candidate must identify and understand the different ceremonies, rituals and meaning of the events within the Jewish lifecycle
- Pregnancy and Birth
- “B’Shaah Tova”
- Bar/Bat Mitzvah
- “Bar/ Bat Mitzvah and Beyond”, Rabbi Nachman Cohen, Torah Lishma Institute
- “To Be A Jewish Woman,” Lisa Aiken, Jason Aronson
- “The Jewish Way in Love and Marriage, Rabbi Maurice Lamm
- “Beyond Bashert,” Lisa Aiken, Jason Aronson
- “Made in Heaven,” Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan
- “To Kindle a Soul,” Rabbi Lawrence Kelemen
- “Balanced Parenting,” Rabbi and Dr. Pelcovitz, Artscroll
- “The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning”, Rabbi Maurice Lamm
Category #5. Jewish Philosophy – Candidate must gain a basic understanding of fundamental concepts in Judaism. Examples include, but are not limited to: nature of God, reward and punishment, Moshiach, difference between the written and oral Torah, free will, authenticity and divine nature of Torah, and more.
- Books by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan
- “Anthology” volumes 1 and 2
- “Concise Handbook of Jewish Thought” (To be used as reference)
- “On Judaism”, Rabbi Emanuel Feldman, Artscroll
- “Gateways to Judaism,” Rabbi Mordechai Becher, Artscroll
Category #6. Jewish History – Candidate must gain basic knowledge of significant events, personalities and locations of Jewish History. Exact dates, names, etc. are not as important as general familiarity.