Is it possible to convert to Judaism via the Internet?
Rabbi Robert Orkand: Judaism welcomes those wishing to convert, and a great deal of information about Judaism is now available on the Internet, making it a wonderful way to begin learning. Start with ReformJudaism.org's conversion page, which includes a reading list for beginners. However, conversion to Judaism involves time and effort: study, worship and practice in the context of an active Jewish community. Judaism is a religion of people and community. Once a student is ready to convert, there are meaningful rituals that mark the new Jew's entrance into the covenant and affirm the community's embrace of him or her. Therefore, conversion over the Internet is simply not possible or advisable. To convert in that way would not be meaningful or fulfilling.
Still, conversion can be a challenge for those who do not live near a synagogue. May I suggest that you contact a rabbi near you? (Use this online search tool to find a Reform congregation near you.) Even if you do not live in the community or area, I am sure he or she would be happy to meet with you and discuss ways you can begin to study about Judaism. Periodic in-person meetings, conference calls, and video calls are all ways to further your learning with a rabbi. Because it usually takes at least one year to prepare for conversion, you’ll have plenty of time to arrange for congregational visits. If, after a period of study, you decide that you want to become a Jew, the rabbi would be ready and willing to explore that option with you.
I hope that you will learn more about our faith and that you will, indeed, make the decision to become a Jew. I look forward to welcoming you into the Jewish people at that time.
Rabbi Leora Kaye: I would like to underscore and clarify what Rabbi Orkand said above. His comment about an internet conversion not being meaningful is specifically directed toward the idea of doing a completely online conversion, with no direct contact with a congregation or rabbi, cantor, or educator.
However, he does very beautifully encourage that people with limited opportunity be in touch with nearby congregations to find a way to work out a conversion experience that incorporates the needs of the individual and the needs of the Jewish community as it pertains to conversion.
Reform Jewish thinking also strongly exhorts that part of what makes a person's Jewish experience stronger is their connection to a community - to help them when they are in need of help, to celebrate at joyous times, and for individuals to have the chance to offer help and support to others, and, of course, to celebrate with them as well. It is for this reason that we so strongly encourage people to seek out in-person Jewish communities whenever possible.