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Preliminary Notes: Even though this Syllabus refers to “the candidate”, its requirements apply to BOTH the candidate for conversion AND any Jewish partner they may have – the same standards apply for both.
Although this Syllabus focuses on learning and the knowledge a candidate for conversion should acquire, an essential aspect of the conversion process is the actual observance of mitzvot. Any candidate who does not demonstrate actual observance of mitzvot and a commitment to continued actual observance of mitzvot after completing comversion will NOT be allowed to complete the conversion process. The onus is on the candidate to demonstrate a sufficient standard.
There is no guaranteed timetable for conversion – it depends on the candidate’s standard of observance. Candidates should anticipate conversion taking a minimum of one year. No wedding arrangements may be made without the express permission of the Beis Din in which they convert.
Belief in G-d is fundamental to Judaism.
The 13 Principles of Faith – basic beliefs about G-d, (based on the Rambam’s introduction to the 11th chapter of Sanhedrin, the concepts of revelation & prophesy, (based on Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato’s epic work Derech Hashem or the Ways of G-d) Divine reward and punishment, the concept of the Messiah, the concept of techiat ha’metim (resurrection of the dead, and Jewish suffering and the Holocaust.
The 7 Noachide Laws (brief overview)
Respect for G-d:
o What Jews call G-d and why (the different names of the G-d and what they represent)
o Respecting G-d’s name in written form – how to treat holy books & writings (Siddur, Tanach, benshers etc) incl. proper disposal of holy items (shemot).
o Appropriate behavior in G-d’s presence, esp. how to behave in shul.
Holiness based on Rabbi Luzzato’s work Path of the Just
An understanding of the words Torah, Yisrael, and Mitzvah, including that there are multiple meanings for each.
Pekuach Nefesh (endangering of life) and exceptions to this principle (idolatry, murder, sexual wrong-doing).
Different categories of Jews – kohen, levi, yisrael. Marriage restrictions onkohanim.
The role of a rabbi.
Rabbinic enactments – Deuteronomy 17:9-11.
The concepts of yetzer ha’tov and yetzer ha’ra based on Derech Hashem
Tanach and Chumash a historical overview and understanding how the Oral Law was transmitted.
The concept of the Chosen People
Interrelationship between Jews and non-Jews, including how converts should relate to non-Jewish relatives. Kihud av v’em to non-Jewish parents
Derech Hashem (The Way of G-d) by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato (the Ramchal)
The Path of the Just by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato (the Ramchal)
The 39 Melachos by Rabbi Dovid Ribiat
The Classic Artscroll Siddur by Rabbi Nossan Scherman/Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz (Ashkenaz)
The Stone Edition Chumash by Rabbi Nossan Scherman
The Living Torah by Rabbi Arye Kaplan
Note: There are many books in English on all the subjects discussed in this syllabus. Anyone interested in further reading can ask about that particular subject.
The classes meet twice a week for an hour and a half per class. The student has full access to Rabbi Coffman and can make appointments during the week for further clarification and guidance.