It is well-known that education is one of the most important things for Jews. For thousands of years, the people of the book has spent countless hours teaching their history from one generation to another. What they believe in, what their religion says, their traditions, celebrations, important dates and, even the food they prepare are some of the basic – and most important- things concepts Jews need to learn during their lives.
Learning what your culture has to teach you seems pretty average, but what if it is not your culture and you still want to learn from it? What if you were born outside the Jewish culture but you want to learn its principles and be an active part of it? Is it possible to study your way to Judaism?
In this article, Yosef Meystel will give you information related to the things you need know, let go, learn and do in order to become Jewish. Even though it may be a noble cause, it probably won’t be easy, especially when one of the Rabbis’ tasks is to dissuade you from this life changing endeavor.
If you grew up in a catholic family and spent your entire life believing in the existence of Jesus, it won’t be easy for you to become Jewish. It is a non-negotiable matter: Jews don’t believe in the existence of Jesus as the son of God or God itself. This is probably one of the basic and most important concepts one needs to keep in mind in the process of becoming Jewish. If you think that letting go your catholic believes is going to be difficult for you, then you shouldn’t consider the idea of becoming Jewish.
This step you want to take is going to affect by all means every aspect of your life. Everything you believe in will be based on the teachings and principles of the Hashem’s Torah. This powerful book written thousands of years ago will tell you what is right, wrong, spiritual and mundane, what makes you a better human being and what lowers you. The Torah describes every aspect of Jewish law and Rabbis must base their teachings on what the book says.
Watch out your mouth
If you are catholic, you are probably too loose with your religion-related expressions. Christian words like holy, messiah, heaven and, confession will need to be removed out of your vocabulary.
You will need to learn some Hebrew and be in touch with Israeli traditions and vocabulary. Expressions like Mazel Tov to congratulate someone on their wedding or Shalom to salute the guy that just entered the room should be part of your day to day vocabulary.
Jews share their own language called Yiddish. This wonderful tongue is vast in expressions and kind terms. Even though when Yiddish words have their own traditional meaning, they have become common in the popular culture and nowadays have different meanings that express the way the Jewish culture has changed.
What your family says
Again, if you come from catholic tradition, becoming Jewish won’t be easy, especially if you have a conservative and close-minded family reminding you about the importance of believing in Jesus and complaining about your crazy initiative.
Converting your faith to Judaism will change your relationships. You will have a different circle and your best option to preserve tradition will be to marry another Jew. It is very likely that your friends won’t be very happy about this change, but there is no reason for you to avoid contact with them. You just need to be patient, persistent and neutral about any subject that may irritate those around you.
An important detail you need to keep in mind is that you won’t be allowed to attend to any religious celebration in a church. This means that if one of your friends is getting married, you can go to the party but not to the ceremony. If you have children and they belong to the catholic religion, you won’t be able to make it to any religious ritual that takes place inside a church.
The many, many rules you will need to learn
Jewish teachings are based on 613 commandments what were revealed to Moses by God. Everyone who belongs to the Jewish tradition will need to follow these commandments. These commandments are known as rules to follow and they include everything you need to know about being a Jew, from what you eat to what you wear.
It is important that you stop and think things through before becoming Jewish. Judaism is not something you can try for a couple days and get rid of after you get tired. You need to be convinced about your decision since it will be life changing. Since the moment you are officially Jewish, you will need to start caring about what you wear (it can’t be too revealing, particularly in women), where you go, what you eat (kosher food is very important for Jews), what you carry in your pockets on the Sabbath and many other things that you probably didn’t think about before becoming Jewish.