Allen S. Maller
Allen S. Maller

Begin Rosh HaShanah by inviting someone to enter the Jewish People

For over 38 years prior to my retirement in 2006, I conducted conversion ceremonies publicly at a Friday eve service. Then I decided to do a conversion service at Temple Akiba’s Rosh Hashanah morning service; and coupled it with an offer to teach an introduction to Judaism class for all interested in becoming Jewish, or in becoming more Jewish.

Over the next 3 weeks 9 people called me. Their demographics were very different from those in the typical introduction to Judaism class. Three were Jewish woman who had bought tickets for the High Holy Days. They said they wanted to become more Jewish. One was single.

The other two were married to Gentile men. When I suggested their husbands join them they were enthusiastic and the men joined the class. These three women had bought tickets for High Holy Day services for several years; but that was all.

A retired Jewish man (also a High Holy Days service ticket buyer) told his non-Jewish girl friend about the class and they both decided to come together. They later joined my Sunday morning Torah study class.

Two non-Jewish mothers from our nursery school joined the class and two non-Jewish men (Temple members) whose children had been raised in our school (Bar/Bat Mitsvah and Confirmation) also joined.

A member told a young woman with a Jewish father, about the class, and she joined. I also invited two mixed married couples that attend services occasionally and they joined.

Doing a public conversion welcome ceremony on Rosh HaShanah, and inviting people to call the Rabbi if interested in joining an introduction to Judaism class; seems to have attracted and inspired several marginal Jews and non-Jews who were present only at the High Holy Days to explore becoming more involved in Jewish life.

I would urge other rabbis and congregations to try this same approach.

About the Author
Rabbi Allen S. Maller has published over 450 articles on Jewish values in over a dozen Christian, Jewish, and Muslim magazines and web sites. Rabbi Maller is the author of "Tikunay Nefashot," a spiritually meaningful High Holy Day Machzor, two books of children's short stories, and a popular account of Jewish Mysticism entitled, "God, Sex and Kabbalah." His most recent books are "Judaism and Islam as Synergistic Monotheisms' and "Which Religion Is Right For You?: A 21st Century Kuzari" both available on Amazon.
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