Oct 29, 2011

Conversion's a Racket

NOTE BEFORE READING: This is not a post bashing Denver. In fact, if you go back and read my past posts, I love the community here and it has been nothing short of amazing. This is a post about a specific topic: conversion to Judaism. This is not something that is isolated to Denver, it is a problem everywhere. My point is to express how instead of the weight of mitzvot making converts really consider their conversion, the weight of money pushes them away and out of the process, into Conservative or Reform conversions.

This is the scenario -- here in Denver, anyway.

$20 a week for at least 78 weeks = $1,560
$180 mikvah fee
however much it costs to fly a Queens rabbi out every six months = roughly $900
if you're a guy, $75 for the circumcision

Overall? You're looking to pay probably well over $2,000 to convert to Orthodox Judaism in Denver, Colorado -- and that's before you've even considered buying new dishes (Dairy, Meat, Passover, Parve) and all your other kitchen items that can't be kashered (probably $4,000 or so) and all those tzniut (modest) clothes, moved into the Orthodox community, and so on.

Can you imagine it? Dropping $8,000 or more just to be Jewish?

Some of you were lucky enough to be born into it. Not a single penny was spent for you to be Jewish.

And did I mention that all that studying is done to be converted on a private beth din with some local rabbis (not Rabbinical Council of America-affiliated) and a rabbi flown in from Queens?

You have no institutional backing, you just dropped $8,000, and there you are. Jewish in Denver.

Had I been living here when I decided to convert, when I was freshly starting graduate school and had zero cash in-pocket, I wouldn't have been able to do it. Even today, single and living on my own and struggling to find jobs that pay enough to pay the rent, I wouldn't be able to afford it.

It's a racket. An unfair, unconcerned-about-the-convert racket.

And I'm taking a stand, because I can't, in good conscience, stand by and let anyone convert under the current process.

At any given time, there are supposedly 10-20 people in-process. Those people should have options -- an RCA Beth Din, or the current, in-place private beth din that wants them to drop thousands just to be Jewish.

I've heard more excuses than I can really stand at this point -- bad blood in past bad conversions, a Christian couple that infiltrated the community, not enough RCA rabbis (which is no longer true), and so on.

It's not okay for some guy to have a monopoly on conversions, it's not okay to not have institutional approval, it's not okay to charge $2,000 for a conversion, and it's not okay that people aren't willing to take a stand and make a change.

So this is my mission: I'm going to reform and make more reliable, more attainable, and more stable the process of conversion to Orthodox Judaism in Denver, Colorado.

Come hell or high snowfall. I'm going to do it.

Note: When I was converting, I studied every week with my rabbi in West Hartford (I commuted about 45 minutes to do this study) and spent all of the Shabbatot and Chagim there, too. Ultimately, I ended up paying $250 to the RCA Beth Din for mikvah and beth din fees, and I donated $180 to the rabbi's discretionary fund -- never once was I asked to give my rabbi a paycheck. 

Also, if you want to read an article from September 2010 about all the "good" the current guy running things is doing, the article is here. He says that the fee "needn't be expensive." Seriously? I'm enraged. 


Avraham said...

i have a whole long list of horror stories about conversion. One is from San Fransisco. the rabbis there would always inspect the woman before the conversion from head to toe. before the mikvah. this I heard from one woman who actually had to do this.
The other is from numerous people that were just used as slaves and dragged along for about ten years in the Diaspora yeshiva until they realized the rabbi was never going to convert them.

A friend I used to learn bava metziah with was on the top of the computer industry (he graducated from Stanford in Computer science ) but then was dragged along by rabbis for years with promises of conversion until he lost all his paranaha and all chance of a any shiduch.
My opinion about the whole thing is based on the gemara in avodah zara but would rather not say here what the actual gemara says because i know that no one really cares about the gemara as long as there is money to be made by ignoring it.

(But not all stories are horror stories. I once helped out a conversion in Israel by testifying before the rabbi in Safed who was an old Mir yeshiva guy about one woman that I knew was in fact keeping mitzvot.)

Aviva said...

In Montreal, in order to convert under the RCA program, all candidates must pay these fees:

- Administration Fee (paid up front) - $600 payable to RCA Geirut Montreal

- Class Fee - $2000 for single, $2500 for a couple, payable to RCA Geirut Montreal

- "Conversion Assessment" - $75 fee

- RCA administration fee - $100 - paid online at http://www.judaismconversion.org/Conversion_registration.html

- $150 Mikveh charge

- a couple much separate for a period of time prior to the completion of conversion, and advise bet din of arrangements for separation. this can incur extra fees to the one "moving out" of the couple's home during this time period.

... as well as be living in a Jewish community within walking distance of a shul, kashrut kitchen, buying the required 15 books, visit Israel, learn Hebrew on your own, and much more.

Conversion length is roughly 18 months long.

Cost: imo, well over $8000.

Mordechai said...

I basically agree with you except that I dont think it is reasonable to ask rabbis to work for free. No one asks you to. And true rabbis deal in psycho-emotional and spiritual commodities that are not the same as dentists and lawyers but they are entitled to make a living. I'm not a fan of the RCA system. I'm actually an orthodox rabbi and worked in an OU Shul for 4 years never applied to the RCA now, 4 years on from that Shul, I don't think I'd ever consider joining the RCA. I was in Boulder for a month last summer and was shocked by the geirut situation in Denver. But I still think rabbis should get paid.

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

@Aviv My G-d ... that's obscene. And it's through the RCA? They're looking into the RCC for their exorbitant pricing and beyond-GPS strictures. Perhaps they should be looking at Canada, too.

@Mordechai -- so what is the price for a convert's neshama? How much exactly would it cost to teach them the basics, some brachot, to affirm that their intention and passion are geared in the right direction and that their neshama follows suit?

You can't charge them what you'd charge a bar mitzvah boy, because a bar mitzvah boy is learning Torah -- something you really can't do with a convert-in-training. What if a ba'al teshuva came up and wanted to learn the basics? How much would you charge him?

Whether you like the RCA system or not, you're ignoring the convert and the fact that to be accepted, at any point in the rest of their life, they need institutional backing. This isn't the medieval period where there are gadolim who can do and say anything and we'll all trust their judgment. The institutional backing of the RCA provides that if something ever happens with those rabbis on that specific beth din, the institution still acknowledges the validity of the conversion.

People don't think about the converts. They think about themselves, their perceptions ... AGH!

Scott Friedman said...

I have to say, I find your post a little misguided.
First, all of the expenses you mention aside from the $2,700 in fees specifically for the conversion are costs that any Orthodox Jew incurs. All Orthodox Jews have to buy separate dishes and tzniot clothing. Men have to buy kosher tfillin which are quite expensive. Often times living near a shul is more expensive than living in other parts of town. Sephorim to learn from are just as expensive for everyone. Its not easy to be Orthodox. Many don't have a choice in this regard as they were born Jewish and are OBLIGATED to do all of these things.

Secondly, the example that you give of your experience is not typical. If your Rabbi met you every week for at least an hour and hosted you for shabbatot and chaggim for the grand fee of $180, that was very nice of him. But realize that you paid him less than $1.oo per hour and that does not include the cost of food and board. Does that seem fair to you? He was able to do this only because other people, primarily the members of his shul, pay annual membership dues which are much higher than the $1500 per year-and-a-half of classes that you reference as being too expensive. Let's compare this to taking a class at the University of Colorado which will cost you on average $330 per credit hour (with an average of 3 credits per class) per year. Do you feel that once you convert you should have to pay membership dues to your shul? Or should others continue to bear your costs forever?

Converting to Judaism is not easy. Converting to Judaism is not a right. Converting to Judaism is a personal responsibility, not the responsibility of other people. Converting to Judaism is a serious commitment. If the burden is too high to bear, the individual must make that choice. But to expect others to carry that burden for you is misguided.

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

But Scott, you're missing the point. Sure, it's hard to be an Orthodox Jew, but nothing's keeping you here except your own obligation. You leave Orthodoxy and bam -- you're still Jewish.

A convert goes through the hoops (that are horrifying in some cases, the oppression and the expectations are beyond what most born Jews even realize), drops the thousands to be Jewish, and then what? Your entire life there is going to be that thing floating above your head saying "don't mess up." Don't even make one misstep.

The community took me in there -- which all communities should do. I didn't stay by the rabbi -- I stayed by community members, ate by community members. The community saw my passion and Jewish neshama, and they were there to bat for me. A year of their time was all it took. And then? I joined the synagogue, I paid dues.

You clearly have a huge misconception of converts, and you also don't really have a grasp on the reality of the entire conversion situation -- here, nationwide, and worldwide.

If so many communities can get by on converts paying $500 for process and mikvah and beth din -- which doesn't count all the books and study materials and Hebrew classes -- why does this community feel the need to charge so much more?

Converting to Judaism isn't easy. Ask any convert. But it also should not be a financial struggle. Nor should it be someone's parnassah -- converts shouldn't pay to line the pockets of people.

Mottel said...

I actually I think it's the last lesson in what it means to be an Observant Jew - because, frankly Chavi, Judaism as a whole is a racket.

I spent 250 dollars the other week on an Italian lemon and a few twigs from the Middle East.

Children? We have lots of them - all of them enrolled in private schools that charge premium prices for even a basic educational experience. Summer camp is another hit of few thousand per kid (unless you can get it subsidized - good luck!). A mini van (or two!) to drive them around in? That isn't easy on the wallet.

Clothes aren't cheap either - I've dropped 700 dollars on a silk Prince Albert frock coat, another 90 for the pants, white shirts at 25-50 dollars a pop (not mention 200 on a felt hat) - all of which must be dry cleaned on a very regular basis - because we seem to wear our finest clothes to big meals. That's besides the 2000 women pay for a sheitel and the extra cost of decent looking tznius clothing.

There are shul dues (oh that aliyah we gave you last week? That'll cost you!), silver everything - from kiddush cups to menorahs - and fine china for shabbos, the expense of large shabbos meals and the premium on kosher milk and meat.

I have a tallis that cost 200, a leather tallis bag cost another 100, tefillin are about 1000 a pair (two pairs because I put on Rabeinu Tam's) and they should optimally be checked every year for 50 bucks a pair!

The list goes on and on . . .

Mottel said...


Nora said...

That's insanity. Our class was sponsored by the local rabbinical council, the cost was about $200/person plus books & the $$ got split evenly into the discretionary funds at each of the 4 local shuls.

No sincere convert should be turned away because they can't afford a fee like like that. I certainly never would've been able to convert with that kind of $$ required up front.

Melissa S-G said...

You make a very good point, which as a BT (though I hate that identifier) I have to respond to.

When I wanted to become observant, I did some outreach to the frum community. The rebbetzin where I was offered to learn with me. We learned for an hour and a half every week and she never asked for any monetary compensation. When I would offer to bring something or to give compensation, she refused. She told me time and again that she was doing it because it is the right thing to do. That as religious Jews we want to encourage people's growth in observance.

Kol ha'kavod for speaking out Chaviva!

Larry Lennhoff said...

It seems to me you are mixing together two distinct issue. The first is how much it costs a convert to do everything needed for conversion. This includes costs that apply exclusively to the convert such as classes, special services from rabbis, miscellaneous fees, etc. It also includes things that BTs (and to an only slightly lesser extent FFBs) have to pay as well - the price of keeping kosher (both initial and ongoing), required Jewish paraphenalia, living in a Jewish community, etc.

The second is that the fact that as a convert, you can never be sure that someone is going to come along decades later and decide your beit din was invalid, somebody allegedly saw you eat a cheeseburger, or for who knows what reason you conversion is invalid and none of your hard work 'counts'.

Personally I suspect that if you got an O conversion and then went off the derech some years later your conversion would still be accepted by C and R. The fact that 'a Jew who sins is still a Jew' no longer applies to converts according to the opinions of some rabbis is, IMO, a scandal.

I suspect part of the reason for the outrage felt by converts is that they are so often taught that a convert already posses a Jewish soul. That being the case, it seems outrageous that mere money can prevent a soul from being allowed to come home.

If conversion is instead viewed as accepting a new member into the covenant of Abraham then while the process may still be unfair it isn't an actual crime - if the rabbis want to restrict membership into the covenant they can do that. There are certainly midrashim that indicate that is a bad idea - according to midrash Amalek was born because his mother (Esav's daughter), who sincerely wanted to become a Jew, was not allowed to marry any of Jacob's children.

We're living in bad times for converts at the moment. By all means fight to change the existing attitudes - they won't change on their own.

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

@Larry You put things in a way that I was unable to, so I thank you!

Katers said...

My orthodox conversion cost some application fee which was waived because I was an unemployed student, a something-like-$250 beit din fee, $100 for each rabbi on the beit din ($300 total) and a mikvah fee of ~$50.

Bethany said...

I paid about $500 for conversion I think - $100 per rabbi ($300 total), $50 for mikvah, $100 for RCA application fee.

I'm so thankful that I had that situation instead of what the situation is in LA, Montreal and Denver. That being said, time is worth money. The meetings, chagim and Shabbatot that I was fed, taught and studied are worth something. Rabbis have to pay the bills too, and their time isn't free.

I think I owe two of my conversion rabbis much more than $100 - the spent countless hours with me and had me for meals. Do I think they deserve thousands? Yeah, probably. I'm glad I wasn't required to give it because the community had wonderful sponsors who took up the slack, but I made the decision to convert, it was on me to pay the costs involved.

selkan said...


I'm crying from reading this and the comments. I have been involved for a number of years with converts, as study partners, and now a rabbi. Although I choose not to sit on a beis din, I am intimately involved with a number of potential converts. First and foremost, I do agree that some if not many communities treat the ger and the potential ger unfairly, and without reason. This is a pure violation of halacha. Secondly, it must be recognized that there are converts and/or potential converts who abuse the system, the rabbis, and the community. Unfortunately, a few bad apples spoil the bunch and once a rabbi or community gets a bad taste in their mouth or feels betrayed it is hard for them to be welcoming (not justifying it, just a observational truth).

Now in terms of the money. I don't think a rabbi, beis din, or community has the right to price gouge for conversions. but as others have mentioned before the time of the rabbi does have a cost, as well as the time and materials of others. I have one particular potential convert with whom I am working and they consume a terrible amount of my time and energy. They are extremely needy, I don't think anyone would say they shouldn't be considered for conversion, but when a small conversation turns into a 1 hour ordeal every time it gets to be too much (just ask my wife and kids).

As someone said can we really put a price on a neshama? Well, no, but us $3,000 really too much to ask for your neshama too? I don't know if there should be a hard and fast rule on the fees, meaning if someone has an extenuating circumstance then certain or all fees may be waived.

Also BH your and your process went well and you did it based on truth, but for some that it not the case and the financial barrier of a few thousand dollars is just enough of a deterrent.

There is so much more to write on this topic but I think I have written enough.


Stephen said...

I don't understand why it's necessary to import a rabbi from New York? I think you said this isn't an RCA conversion, so I'm not sure why the Denver bet din isn't sufficient.

Natalie S. said...

I think it's important to point out that this isn't just a problem with Ortodox conversions (re: your last comment about how this is pushing people into reform and conservative conversions). I converted Reform with one Reform Rabbi and a Conservative Rabbi. I had some of the same costs in terms of Kiddish cup, dishes, etc. However with these items I had some choice about the quality and was able to make it work.

As far as the rest went, my synagogue required I become a full member before two years of conversion officially could begin. My husband and I are both grad students (both converting together) and the dues were staggering (we had to take out loans for them). The beit din was $150 each. Then we were told by the synagogue to give everyone on the beit din a significant gift of about $200 each. We also had to pay for Hebrew classes. My husband had to have a Hatafat Dam Brit which cost $200. Then we also had to attend the most irrelevant Introduction to Judaism courses you could ever imagine (where someone badly lead us through literature we were already familiar about).

We were also heavily pressured to pay for and attend every single event...sometimes costing hundreds for a ticket to a banquet. Then of course we also were responsible for much of the cooking that went on for those two years (minus the two large banquets). We cooked so much challah for onegs, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of latkes, and a zillion honey cakes! The cost of food was actually shocking! Our synagogue doesn't hire caterers, so it basically falls on a convert in process....as does four to six hours of washing dishes and cleaning into the wee hours of the night. So, it's not just an orthodox problem.


yitznewton said...

Crud, yo. I worked with one Rabbi in 2001, and he requested $700, signed sealed & delivered - i.e. I didn't pay any other rabbis. The only other direct conversion expense was a $750 bris milah.

Obviously there's too much overhead in Judaism today. Sadness.

Diplogeek said...

I had a Conservative conversion in the Washington DC area. I paid something in the area of $300 for a basic, intro to Judaism course (held not by my sponsoring rabbi, but by a different one- honestly, the majority of it was review, but that's fine), $75 for my mikvah fee and made a personal decision to donate about $200 to my rabbi's discretionary fund. I had regular meetings with my rabbi, attended Shabbos and Yomtov services at my synagogue and was hosted for stuff like Shabbos meals and Seders by community members. I was never once asked, nor was it ever implied, that I should be paying anything other than the aforementioned costs (aside from things like buying a tallis for myself, but that's a personal expense, not a community fee). On the contrary, I was given High Holy Days tickets for free when I tried to purchase them, and when I raised the question of joining the synagogue after my conversion (I was leaving for an overseas posting within months of my mikvah), my rabbi was adamant that I not spend my money on something like that. Oh, and then there's the loaner set of tefillin he basically told me to keep when I headed abroad. I never expected anything like that, and I count myself extremely fortunate to have found a community that welcomed me with such open arms.

Now, I think there were other converts who had more expenses, mostly paying for a Hebrew course that the synagogue offered, but since I already knew Hebrew, that was a non-issue for me. Obviously, if I went to dinner at someone's house or something, I tried to bring a bottle of wine or fruit or something kosher to help out. But money was hardly even discussed, at any point in the conversion process. I guess I was just lucky.

I can understand that lay people who are taking time to tutor someone for conversion might expect something for their time, but the whole, "Hey, a rabbi's time isn't free!" argument is a bit puzzling to me. When you call a rabbi to pasken on something, does he take your credit card and start tracking billable hours? If I let the synagogue know that someone in my family has died, should I expect to have to pay people to show up at minyan for the next year so that I can say Kaddish? Yes, being Jewish is expensive. Yes, there are some inescapable costs, but there seems to be this attitude in some circles (not saying Denver, since I have no idea of what that community's like) that it's not only acceptable but necessary to put conversion candidates over a barrel and get them to pay all kinds of crazy fees, because hey, where else are they going to go? It's not just an Orthodox issue, as Natalie points out, and it always makes me kind of sad, hearing about stuff like that. There's a difference between "we don't proselytize" and "we make it as difficult and expensive as possible to convert." How the former seems to have morphed into the latter, I'm not sure, but I don't think it's a positive thing for either the converts or the Jewish community as a whole.

Avraham said...

conversion to Judaism

The major problem with conversion is the ambiguity that starts in the Gemara itself. According to Tractate Avodah Zara you jump into the mikvah for the sake of any mitzvah and you are automatically Jewish. According to the Rambam (Maimonidess and the Isaac Alfasi) this needs to be done in front of one another Jew. However the Gemara in Sanhedrin says that conversion is a "mishpat" (judgment) which means that you need three judges who have semicha (ordination) from Mount Sinai (rabbi from rabbi up until Moses himself in an unbroken tradition ) which no longer exists.(this stopped in the time of the gemara itself after Hillel II) Since we do have converts today we are going by the Gemara in Avoada Zara which means you need no rabbi to convert at all. (But if you in fact did need a rabbi and the rabbi accepted money then the conversion would be invalid by definition since he is in the category of: "a judge that takes money to judge,-- all of his judgments are invalid.")
As for receiving of mitzvahs the Shulchan Aruch itself says you only tell the convert general ideas (--roshei perakim--);no details of mitzvot. So any further kabalat hamitzvot besides that is not required. So the entire conversion racket today is a scam and against the Talmud and the Shulchan Aruch and completely worthless.

Brother Ira said...

Let me start by expressing the fact that I am in awe of anyone who has gone or is going down this road - hatzlacha rabah.

I don't believe that conversion is a racket. I do believe that things cost money. Based on the comments, Chaviva's experience is NOT universal.

This is not to say it's not painful. To my understanding as an FFB, the road to conversion is unique for each individual, and the circumstances along the way are also unique. There is no "one size fits all" approach with a set of specific fees. Some classes cost money, some do not. Some batei din are comfortable doing conversions, some need to hire outside experts (also a common practice when a community builds an eruv). Charges for mikvah use vary, and some mikvahs do not allow their facilities to be used for conversion (as some also do not allow men to use the facilities - this is not discrimination, just a practical decision). Judaism does not design the road to be easy, and for those who are serious it's not.

One cannot expect others to pay for one's own decisions - no matter how noble. One can hope for compassion, reason, and assistance, but one should not expect them.

Venting is human, however, blanket condemnation is unwarranted. I'm sorry that Chaviva feels wronged, even though I'm not sure that she was.

Dave said...

What is your proposed solution? How much would you charge?

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

I'm preparing to post some of the stories about people in the Denver community and what they've gone through. If people don't believe me now, they'll believe me soon.

@Dave My solution? There should be a set of fees that are disclosed from day one.

1) mikvah fee (whatever is the local normal)
2) beth din fee (either $250 or $350)
3) learning fee ($300 to 450 -- which is a local standard for non-Orthodox conversion courses -- donated to the shul of the sponsoring rabbi to compensate for his time removed from the congregation for weekly learning)

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

WITH! Might I add ... scholarship options.

Right now, from what I've heard from locals, if you can't pay, you can't study. Which is obscene.

Avraham said...

i am sorry but at least in the diaspora yeshiva conversion is definitely a racket. they get a slave for ten years until the guy gives up and goes home.
I cant even begin to count the horror stories i know about the way converts are treated before and after. If this is not a racket i don't know what is. and how much to charge for conversion ? You must be kidding !

Anonymous said...

I think this sounds like a great idea and is a MUCH better option than the current system.
Also, I might suggest making sure that the program of learning is for a clearly set amount of time. If the potential Jew by choice needs a bit more learning after the prescribed time than that's fine, but I have heard too many unfortunate stories where people are left dangling in the process for two to three years, all the while still paying and having no idea when the process will be complete.
Hazak u'baruch

Aliza "La Jewminicana" Hausman said...

I find it laughable when people say that isn't too much to pay. They live in another world that I've never lived in. Sorry. Never had that kinda money lying around. Probably never will.

Aliza "La Jewminicana" Hausman said...

I find it laughable when people say that isn't too much to pay. They live in another world that I've never lived in. Sorry. Never had that kinda money lying around. Probably never will.

@Adam Zur That is disgusting. RE: San Francisco. No rabbi should be looking at you naked. That's the mikvah lady's job. G-d forbid, now the beis din has to see you naked, too. That breaks all laws of modesty.

Aliza "La Jewminicana" Hausman said...


I also know women who were dragged along and used as slave labor for many years in Israel with no idea of when or if they were going to convert. If they worked outside of their host family (usually as cleaning ladies), the host family took their paycheck and gave them enough to make sure they could never get away. These were knowledgeable women from all over the world, career women, forced into slavery in another country to convert.

Aliza "La Jewminicana" Hausman said...

Wait, wait, wait. It's no longer just living within walking distance of a shul. You also have to live WITHIN the eruv in many communities even if living just on the outskirts of the eruv is much, much more affordable. Now, come on, how many Jews do you know who live in places with no eruv? Plenty. Or places where they are lucky enough to make the choice not to hold by the eruv?

Aliza "La Jewminicana" Hausman said...

When I was converting in Washington Heights, I lived within an eruv but to walk to shul, I was outside the eruv because at the time there were two eruvim that didn't connect on either side of the community.

Aliza "La Jewminicana" Hausman said...

@Mottel Now, imagine all those costs you mentioned AND an exorbitant "entrance fee" for a conversion that might not even be accepted somewhere down the line, maybe even in a couple of years because no institution backs it? It's all hanging on some dude.

Also, imagine paying that much and finding out that as a convert, especially one that most people know is a convert, you will quickly find out that most born Jews feel and will treat you like a second-class citizen when you try to perform basic duties like going into a Jewish store to buy things, signing your kids up for those expensive schools, even walking into synagogue to daven because someone else who has never been there is going to ask if you're really Jewish and the new security guard is going to ask you to leave because he doesn't recognize you on Yom Kippur.

Aliza "La Jewminicana" Hausman said...

I know of people who have adopted children and converted them and they had to have Hatafat Dam Brit that were priced as high as $400 each AND again, they were only allowed to go to certain people to do it. They were not allowed to find someone who was affordable to them considering they had been in the process for these small children (the parents were both born Jewish) for YEARS, past the supposed "two or three year" minimum.

More than 3 years for a 5-year-old? Are you kidding me?

Aliza "La Jewminicana" Hausman said...

$750 bris milah? Mouth wide open.

Aliza "La Jewminicana" Hausman said...


I know so many women who were in their ideal ages for having children who were held in limbo for upwards of 5 years, as much as 7. I know men who also struggled with the same. Now, knowing unless you are completely blind, that converts are more likely to have issues in the Orthodox dating world, in shiddichim especially if their are older! Why would you do this once they have gone WAY beyond learning the basics? (By the way, as I said before, the basics don't cut it anymore.)

In some cases, when they were finally converted, if they had children, their children were not converted alongside them because the rabbis refused with no explanation even though the child had learned all that was asked.

I know of converts who were told outright that they wouldn't convert them because of their race. I know of others who weren't refused but were strung along for the same reason until someone finally said, "We don't think someone will marry you." After all the money was paid.

Chaviva wrote this post under the impression that people are aware, really aware of what's going on worldwide in the conversion world and what I find is that most people aren't unless it has touched their lives through close friends and relatives or their own children (adopted or marrying converts) or they have experienced it themselves. Only then can they possibly understand or come close to understanding. And that's sad. And as someone mentioned before, I think this says a lot about how we treat converts and how the community FEELS about converts.

You think churches are charging this much and treating converts the same way? We're losing born Jews to them for many of the same reasons. It's not easy to be a BT either but it's definitely easier.

Miss S. said...

My RCA application fee was $300.
I learned with an RCA appointed mentor for $20 per week. This was pretty expensive for me, but B"H, I was able to somehow manage. However after learning with her for 9 months, and not getting any feedback from the Beis Din, she stopped taking money from me.
My mikveh fee was $60, and I gave the mikveh lady a $36 dollar tip.

Sounds to me I got off cheap. And still, it was a struggle to pay for these things!

Also when I was in Denver, I heard that it was next to impossible to convert there. But I thought that was due to the unwillingness of the local Rabbis, not the cost.

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