"And Avram took his wife Sarai...and the souls they made in Haran...." Bereishis 12:5
"The souls" refers to the souls which he had brought under the sheltering wings of the Shechinah, for Abraham converted the men and Sarah the women, and Scripture accounts it to them as if they had made them...." (Rashi)
Conversion to Judaism
Conversion to Judaism is perhaps the most serious step a person can take. The far-reaching effects of converting to Judaism are not to be taken lightly. When a person converts to Judaism, all present and future relationships and activities are transformed, forever. Conversion to Judaism sometimes, but not always, alienates family and friends. At best, there can be temporarily-strained relationships. At worst, relationships can be totally severed permantly, leaving the convert alone and without emotional or material support.
Like the journey from Egypt to Sinai, the journey to authentic Torah Judaism is a long one.. Often it begins simply with discomfort in previously-familiar physical surroundings. The quest for freedom from physical enslavement and spiritual oppression leads through territory unfamiliar to the traveller. The path along the way is strewn with the litter of thoughtless individuals who offer short cuts and detours that lead nowhere. Only an experienced, empathetic guide can safely navigate the often murky waters.
A great rabbi once spoke of the invention of an artificial potato. "What if scientists could invent an artificial potato? You could peel it and make all kinds of delicious things from it: potato chips, French-fried potatoes, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, potato pancakes, potato puddings. You name it. It would look like a potato, smell like a potato, taste like a potato, no matter how you prepared it. How," asked the rabbi, "would you be able to tell the difference between the real potato and the artificial potato? You would plant it, and if it would reproduce itself over and over again, it would be the real thing." Authentic Torah Judaism was given at Sinai and accurately transmitted from one generation to the next to this very day. It is as relevant today as it was when it was given. All the attempts to invent new forms of Judaism, with all their enticing claims, have eventually failed. There are no shortcuts to Sinai.
Conversion to Judaism is not always viewed favorably in all Jewish communities. In times past, it was rare that someone decided to convert to Judaism for pure motives. Often, the underlying motive was, and still is, marriage. It is not unusual to find communities even today where conversion to Judaism simply is not done. Rabbis in those communities have accepted a rabbinic ban on becoming involved with people who want to convert to Judaism, no matter what their stated reason for wanting to convert. At the other extreme are those who, against all halachic considerations, will encourage conversion of anyone who has so much as read a book about anything Jewish and wants to convert.
A universally-accepted conversion to Judaism requires a specially-trained beis din with expertise in the laws of conversion to Judaism. Without a competent beis din, there may not be a valid conversion recognized in all Torah communities.
Preparation for conversion to Judaism cannot be accomplished simply by reading books. Knowledge alone does not prepare a person to live as a Torah Jew. Living as a responsible Jew involves thinking like a Jew as well as acting like a Jew. It involves being part of a Torah community. Even the concept of community in Judaism is unique. In addition to the great responsibility assumed by the person seeking conversion to Judaism, the rabbis and the community are also responsible. Certain obligations from the Torah govern the Jew's relationship to the convert to Judaism.
Ohel Sarah Imenu prepares sincere women for conversion to Judaism under the guidance and supervision of a competent beis din. Students are taught not only how to act like a Jew but also how to think and respond like a Jew. Ohel Sarah Imenu is governed by the highest Torah standards. Sincere applicants are expected to accept those standards and make a commitment to working towards learning and eventually practicing what they learn in all areas of life. The online application form can be completed and returned via email.
Neither acceptance to nor completion of the course of study at Ohel Sarah Imenu guarantees anyone conversion to Judaism. Conversion to Judaism is done exclusively by the beis din at the discretion of the rabbis.