At this time, Messianic Judaism has not been officially accepted in Israel as Jewish. Those who come to us of Jewish descent, having already undergone Brit Milah (circumcision), have no need to convert to Judaism because they are already Jewish. This document has no application to those already considered to be Jewish. Non-Jewish persons wishing to convert to Judaism should consider the reasons they want to convert.
Here are the two most frequently given reasons for converting to Judaism. Within the two reasons, there may be other motives as well.
- To make aliyah (the right to move home to Israel)
- To adopt the faith and customs of a Jew
For those wishing to make aliyah, we offer no solutions at this time. A procedure for conversion is being drafted by the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America and the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations in hopes of one day being accepted as an authorized agent by the Israeli government, when considering questions of aliyah.
To adopt the faith and customs of a Jew is a complex matter to resolve. Jews have been persecuted throughout history, so one must consider the price to be paid for such a decision. You must ask yourself, 'Is it worth the price?' Another point to consider is your 'religious' background. If you are from the Christian community, several things must be considered. As a believer in Messiah Jesus, will you have to give up many beliefs in Him to convert? Is conversion really necessary? What would be gained by conversion? Will it change my relationship to G-d? What will my relatives think?
Once a person has considered the price and still chooses to convert, they must undergo an extensive educational process to catch up on over four thousand years of tradition. This is why we at Zion do not take such decisions lightly. Every person must decide personally whether or not to convert. Additionally, we do not try to talk people into converting to Judaism. More often, we try to talk them out of it.
NOTICE! It is not necessary to convert to Judaism to participate in Zion. If you are a gentile and have a desire to learn about Judaism and want to worship with us on the Sabbath in a Jewish environment, you will be welcomed. Yeshua said, "My house shall be called a 'House of Prayer for all people.' "
What then does one do when he/she decides to convert for reasons other than aliyah? We have developed a conversion procedure, that is primarily the traditional requirements from the Jewish community, and things that we feel are important, based on the Torah. The process is as follows:
- Attend Sabbath services weekly
- Attend one training class every week during the conversion period
- Learn the Alefbet; i.e., to sound out Hebrew prayers
- Learn Jewish history (Classes are available for this)
- Learn and practice Jewish customs, traditions and holidays
- Commit to this 'way of life' and community
- Males to undergo brit milah (circumcision for covenant)
Upon completion of the other requirements, participants are to immerse in mikveh. This is not done in a bathtub, swimming pool, or indoor "baptismal". At Zion we use Barton Creek Pool, which is the closest thing we have to a kosher mikveh and is used, by several of the other synagogues in our area, for a conversion mikveh.
The final step is to have a bar/bat mitzvah ceremony. This is to demonstrate your skills in and acceptance of Jewish lifestyle.
This procedure is required by general consensus, but we are not an authorized agency. For now, those who complete the steps mentioned above through any Jewish or Messianic Jewish organization will be accepted in Zion as Jewish, but you must be approved by traditional Jewish agencies to make aliyah. One of their requirements may be to reject belief in Yeshua as Messiah. We find this to be an unacceptable requirement. Why? We have several good reasons. For more information or class schedules, please call our office: (512) 452-8700
One final note would be that converting to Judaism makes one Jewish in every sense of the word, but being Jewish is much more than just undergoing a conversion process. Judaism is an experience that grows over the years. Traditions do not become traditions until they are practiced over time. All traditions begin at some point. For a Jewish child, his or her traditions may have started with mother, grandmother, great grandmother, or even with the patriarchs. With each generation the tradition becomes more set and meaningful. You can practice Jewish customs, making them your traditions, so that your succeeding generations will have a rich heritage to call their own, without converting to Judaism. If you are a Christian and have a desire in your heart to become "Jewish,' I would submit to you that you are already grafted into the great "tree" of Abraham that is written of in Romans the11th chapter. Practice the customs and traditions of a Jew and you will have the majority or all of what you are seeking.