About Me

Rabbi Chaim Coffman
Rabbi Coffman has helped people from all across the spectrum to prepare themselves properly for Orthodox Conversion to Judaism. His students admire his vast knowledge and appreciate his warm, personal attention and endearing sense of humor.
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Welcome to Rabbi Chaim Coffman's Blog!

I would like to thank you for visiting my blog, Beyond Orthodox Conversion to Judaism.

The conversion process can be a lengthy and daunting one to say the least and I want you to know that I am here to help you through it.

I have been teaching newcomers to Judaism for over a decade and over the last few years I have seen that conversion candidates really lack the support and knowledge they need to navigate the conversion process and successfully integrate into the Orthodox Jewish community.

I created my mentorship program in order to help make this whole experience as smooth and as painless as possible! (Can't do much about the growing pains, though ;)

Feel free to get to know me a little through the posts on my blog and visit the mentorship and syllabus page if you are interested in possible joining us.

I sincerely wish you all the best in your search for truth and spiritual growth.

Looking forward to meeting you,
Chaim Coffman

My Rebbe, Rav Moshe Sternbuch

In case you were wondering why I have all of these articles written by Rav Moshe Sternbuch, he is my Rebbe, and one of the gedolei hador (greatest Rabbis of our generation).

Rav Sternbuch fully endorses me and supports my mentorship program.

He is the address for all of my halachic or hashkafic (practical and philosophical) questions that I or my students may have.

The articles are based on his weekly talks on the Torah portion that the Rav gives in Jerusalem in his kollel. As a member of the kollel I get first dibbs on the photocopies and I type them up for my blog so you can all benefit from the Rav's erudition and insight.
Saturday, January 29, 2011

10 Myths about Converting to Judaism

By Rabbi Chaim Coffman

Myth Number One: Judaism does not allow converts. Fact: Judaism allows anyone to convert who is serious and willing to uphold all the mitzvos. There is no obligation to convert and if one chooses, they can continue to be a righteous Gentile by practicing the seven Noahide laws. Orthodox Judaism does not allow for anyone to convert for ulterior motives like for the sake of marriage. The conversion candidate must move into a religious community and live within walking distance to a nearby synagogue.

Myth Number Two: I can learn everything on my own and I don’t need a mentor to teach and guide me. Fact: Although one can learn from many different sources and read lots of books, it is not the same as having someone who can guide you and take you every step of the way. Reading books and getting academic information is important but one can very easily get lost in the many details of Jewish law!

Myth number Three: I don’t need a community, I can do everything within the confines of my own home. Fact: As much as one learns on their own, even if they have a mentor who will teach and guide them, does not take the place of being part of a community. When one sees everyone around them striving for the same goals and having the same ideals, it puts what one learns into practice. It also helps getting the support and help one needs where one won’t be able to with family.

Myth number Four: Once I am accepted by an Orthodox Beis Din (rabbinical court) as a viable candidate, it is all downhill from there. Fact: Although one may be accepted and receive guidance from a qualified beis din, less than 20% of all candidates actually finish the process. Even after one has lived in a community and has taken many classes with a proper rabbinical authority, the beis din has their own criteria of what they are looking for and will determine when that candidate is ready to finish the conversion.

Myth number Five: The community is all-welcoming and makes it comfortable for the prospective convert. Fact: Although it is written in the Torah more than 30 times to love the convert, many communities are skeptical of converts even after the convert has converted! The reason is that throughout Jewish history, converts have not given the Jewish people a great name and caused serious harm. Therefore, many communities are skeptical of all converts, making the process even more difficult.

Myth number Six: Once a person converts, that will solve all their problems. Fact: Converting to Judaism or becoming religious does not mean that one’s life will become easier. Just because one has found the right path for themselves in no way means that life from no one will trouble-free. One will find more meaning in their lives but it is not automatically going to turn one’s life around.

Myth number Seven: Becoming an Orthodox Jew will not change my financial situation. Fact: There is an old Talmudic dictum called “Mitzvos cost gelt!” In other words, moving into an Orthodox community has varied expenses including higher prices for housing, kosher food and school tuition, not to mention food for Shabbos, the holidays…If a person wants to convert and become an Orthodox Jew, they have to be willing to pay the price!

Myth Number Eight: Now that I have started my path to conversion, I will have a better relationship with my family. Fact: Most converts inevitably have family issues in the process of conversion. If the family came from a religious past, especially Christianity, they will do their best to help and “save” you from your misguided ideas! This can cause added stress and make family situations sometimes unbearable.

Myth Number Nine: It shouldn’t be so hard to explain to my boss why I have to leave early on Friday afternoon and miss many holidays if I have not converted yet. Fact: Depending on how understanding your boss is, it may be hard for them to understand if you are not even Jewish yet why one should be taking such steps. In fact, there may be some non-religious Jews who don’t practice such things so why should you. This can also cause great amounts of difficulty!

Myth Number Ten: An Orthodox conversion to Judaism will be great for my kids. Fact: It may be, it may not be. It will depend on how old the kids are and how it is integrated into their lives. They may not want any part of it and for the parents that is a very difficult thing to swallow. The reality is that the younger the children are, the easier it is but even if they convert at a young age, when they come of age, at either 12 or 13, they will be asked if they want to stay Jewish or not.