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Introduction to Judaism


General Information

URJ Introduction to Judaism is a course offered in partnership between the Union for Reform Judaism and local Reform congregations for anyone interested in exploring Judaism - singles, interfaith couples, those considering conversion and Jews looking for adult-level basics. This class introduces the fundamentals of Jewish thought and practice in 16-20 weeks. Topics include Jewish holidays and life cycle events, theology and prayer, Israel, history and Hebrew. Find a class in your area.

Why take the course? Perhaps:

... you recently discovered you have Jewish ancestry and want to learn more about your roots.

... your partner is Jewish and you are not.

... your adult child is helping to raise Jewish grandchildren.

... you are seeking conversion to Judaism.

... you are Jewish yet somehow, when you were younger, you didn't learn what you'd like to know about the culture and religion of the Jewish people.

... you grew up in a place where there was no synagogue.

... you weren't quite ready to appreciate the Jewish education you were offered.

... your parents didn't think you needed a Jewish education.

... you now seek a way to live a fuller and richer Jewish family life.

... you now want to narrow the cultural gaps between you and your children.

There are many reasons why people choose to register for Introduction to Judaism. Whatever you are seeking, URJ Introduction to Judaism offers you a time and place to broaden your Jewish awareness. It can launch you on a path to deeper personal Jewish connection, acquire a basic Jewish vocabulary, and gain intellectual and experiential knowledge of Judaism as well as the skills necessary to "do Jewish." Intro is designed to be a meaningful, educational experience for any person interested in knowing and understanding Judaism and Jewish life. The course is organized around the major themes of Judaism, and around the holidays and events in the Jewish life cycle, including the following concepts: 

  • Birth
  • Concepts of God
  • Conversion to Judaism 
  • Death and Mourning 
  • Israel and Zionism 
  • Jewish Culture 
  • Jewish History 
  • Jewish Holidays 
  • Marriage/Partnership and Family 
  • Personal Responsibility 
  • Repentance and the Path of Righteousness 
  • Worship and Spirituality

What can you do until your course begins? Here are some useful tips on how to prepare.

Study Opportunities at Your Local Synagogue

If the URJ Introduction to Judaism locations are inaccessible to you, please check with your local synagogue which might offer its own Introduction course. Please note that these courses are not sponsored by the URJ. 

Interested in Conversion to Judaism? Looking for a Sponsoring Clergy Person?

Completion of a URJ Introduction to Judaism course is an integral step toward conversion to Judaism. If you are in the early stages of exploring Judaism and haven't found a community or a rabbi yet, please contact our office. We can explain the role of URJ Introduction to Judaism as a step towards conversion and help you select a Sponsoring Rabbi. If you know a rabbi, make an appointment with him or her to discuss why URJ Introduction to Judaism is right for you.

Students who complete all the requirements of the URJ Introduction to Judaism course will receive a Certificate of Completion. A bet din (a panel of three rabbis) for conversion to Judaism may require that the candidate present a Certificate as part of the conversion process. 

Instructors

Instructors are usually rabbis ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the seminary for Reform Judaism. These liberal rabbis encourage students to raise questions and enter into spirited discussions on all topics. 

URJ Introduction to Judaism reflects the approach of Reform Judaism. This 200-year-old Jewish movement includes the largest number of religious Jews in America. It has forged a dynamic synthesis of tradition and modernity that allows for an encompassing yet flexible Jewish consciousness.