Reform launches online conversion lessons for distance learners
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Reform launches online conversion lessons for distance learners

Progressive organisation to help those becoming part of the faith to complete the process through lessons on the internet

Rabbi Dr Jackie Tabick (right), who is the Beit Din Convenor at the residential weekend for people considering conversion to Judaism in 2016.
Rabbi Dr Jackie Tabick (right), who is the Beit Din Convenor at the residential weekend for people considering conversion to Judaism in 2016.

Would-be Jews are now able to do much of their conversion courses online, after the launch of distance learning classes by Reform Judaism.

Fortnightly online classes, beginning in April, will be led by Rabbi Sybil Sheridan and will complement regular face-to-face learning in synagogue communities.

Reform Judaism said the move to internet-based conversion classes “will benefit students living in remote areas or smaller communities and those who might be constrained by illness or disability”.

Rabbi Dr Jackie Tabick, Convenor of the Reform Beit Din, said Reform “welcomes potential converts to Judaism with compassion, combining modernity with Jewish tradition”.

In the past, and as an exception, Reform Judaism has conducted Beit Din hearings by Skype and Tabick said she was “delighted that we are able to expand the boundaries of inclusion in this innovative way”.

She added: “Judaism is a communal tradition and it is vital that candidates can also be present in a community to experience the reading of the Torah, hear the shofar, feel the changing atmosphere of the services through the day on Yom Kippur, wave a lulav and experience a Passover Seder.”

Conversion students will be sponsored by a rabbi and will participate “in some form of local Jewish community activities and services,” before they appear before the Beit Din, at which point “they must have attended in person a number of Shabbat services and all the main festivals at an established Reform congregation”.

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