Home Hebrew

Schetcher on Judaism

Ask The Rabbi

About the Graduate School
M.A. Tracks
2013-2014 Course Catalog
Research Institutes
Map of Graduates
Hebrew Website
Annual Report
About the Rabbinical Seminary
Course Catalog
Map of Graduates
Annual Report
Iyunei Shabbat
About TALI
Schools and Pre-Schools
TALI Textbooks
Visual Midrash - TALI Art and Judaism Website
TALI Principles
Annual Report
Map of TALI Schools
TALI Hebrew Website
Neve Schechter
About Midreshet Yerushalayim
Programs in Eastern Europe
Programs in Israel
Website in Russian
Books in Russian
Annual Report
Map of Israel Programs
Map of Ukraine Programs
About Our Publications
Schechter Bookstore
TALI Bookstore
Responsa in a Moment
Faculty Forum
Insight Israel
Ask The Rabbi
Iyunei Shabbat
The Midrash Project
About Women and Judaism
Jewish Law Watch
To Learn and To Teach
MA Program
Board Members
Schechter in the Media
Schechter News
Annual Report 2013-14
Spring of Tolerance 2014
The Voices of Schechter-Give Today
Donate Online
How to Give
What Your Donation Provides
New Campuses in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv
Endowment Campaign for The Schechter Institutes
Development News 2013-14
Publication Fund for The Illuminated Bible
Print this page  Print
Ask the Schechter Rabbis a question at:

View All Titles By Date

Biblical Studies

Contemporary Issues in Jewish Law


Ethics and Morality



Jewish Education

Jewish History

Jewish Symbols

Jewish Thought and Philosophy


Rabbinic Literature




Theology and Ideology

Women and Judaism

Synagogue Life

Selected Issues in Jewish Law

Life Cycle

The Jewish Holidays


July 2005
Rabbi Diana Villa


Dear Rabbi,

I am African American, and have a strong desire to convert. I live in the southern United States, have read hundreds of books and material on websites about Judaism and attended Reform and Conservative synagogues. I have no ulterior motive for converting, yet I feel that I am not welcome in the community. I feel that a certain social and economic position is required in order to be accepted. I identify strongly with the Jewish people; I lived in Germany and visited the sites of concentration camps. I study Hebrew and celebrate the Sabbath. I would really appreciate your help in dealing with these issues.
Shabbat Shalom!


Conservative congregations welcome people who want to study Judaism and eventually convert. I would suggest that you talk to the local Conservative rabbi (we can provide you with contact information) and see if you can join a conversion class. The local rabbi is the right person to help you along in the process. Have you been in touch with him/her, or with a rabbi of another denomination? Orthodox rabbis usually have much stricter requirements for a potential conversion candidate.
I don't know why you have all these doubts regarding the possibility of conversion. You should rest assured that considerations of race, social position or economic status have no relevance in the conversion process. Some people may be prejudiced, and that is most unfortunate. If you are not already aware of this, thousands of Ethiopian Jews, live in Israel and abroad, who are considered 100% Jewish. The only requirement is the sincere will to join the Jewish people and to observe the commandments of our faith.
I commend you for starting the process on your own, through personal practice at home and synagogue attendance. It will, however, be much easier and more natural if you do it within the community. I hope that you can find your place within the local community.
Have a Shabbat Shalom!


Rabbi Diana Villa
July 2005

Copyright 2009 The Schechter Institutes, Inc. Box 3566, P.O.Box 8500, Philadelphia, PA, 19178-3566, tel: 1-866-830-3321,
Jerusalem Campus: 4 Avraham Granot St., Jerusalem, Israel, 91160, tel: 972-747-800-600,,
Copyright 2009 The Schechter Institutes, Inc.
Box 3566, P.O.Box 8500, Philadelphia, PA, 19178-3566, tel: 1-866-830-3321
Jerusalem Campus:
4 Avraham Granot St., Jerusalem, Israel, 91160, tel: 972-747-800-600,,