The conversion process and children.

The Jewish Discovery Institute facilitates Mikvah immersions for young children who have at least one Jewish parent and are dedicated to raising a Jewish family. To begin the process, please fill out this application. If you have any questions, please contact Rabbi Braham David.

Conversion/ Affirmation for Minor Children

The formal welcoming of children to the Jewish people with the traditional ritual of Mikveh, or immersion in a ritual bath, is a joyous occasion. The issue of conversion/ affirmation can also be sensitive. It is important to distinguish between “identity” and “Formal status under halakcha - Jewish Law.” Many families have a strong Jewish identity, and simply wish to affirm their child’s Jewish status under traditional Jewish law. JDI assist families who are planning on raising their children in the Jewish tradition.

Jewish law recognizes that minor children cannot give consent. Since becoming Jewish is considered a benefit for the child, the conversion is done by the authority of the beit din - the group of three rabbis overseeing the conversion rituals. At the age of maturity, the child can either affirm or reject the decision that was made for him or her. Parents contribute to a lifelong Jewish identity of their children by providing them with not only a Jewish education, but also quality Jewish experiences.

What follows is a very general explanation. Each family and child is different, so please contact Rabbi David directly for a more detailed discussion.

Why are Children brought to the Mikveh?

JDI organizes conversion according to the standards of the Conservative movement of Judaism, which follows the traditional definition of Matrileneal Decent - which Jewish legal status of the child comes through the mother who gave birth to the child. Often, interfaith families where the mother is of another faith tradition or background decide to raise their children in the Jewish tradition. In order to increase the circle of acceptance in the Jewish world, they chose to affirm their child’s Jewish identity through the traditional ritual of immersion in a mikveh.

In the case of adoption, the birth mother’s religion is unknown or is not Jewish. In this case, the child, even if being raised as a Jew, needs the formal rituals of conversion. Rabbi David and other rabbis with whom we work are adoptive parents, and understand the sensitivities involved in the conversion of adopted children and are happy to speak to you in more detail about your particular situation.

There are also situations with gestational surrogacy and other assisted reproductive technology (ART) technologies that require the rituals of conversion. Please consult with Rabbi David about your particular situation.

The Process

To Request a conversion/ Affirmation appointment, please click here to fill out our online form.

Boys need to be brought into the Covenant of Abraham though circumcision by a Mohel, ideally on the eighth day after he is born. If the child has had a medical circumcision, the mohel will perform Hatafat Dam Brit, where a tiny drop of blood is drawn. For more details on this procedure, click here. All of the Mohels with whom we work are MD, and perform this procedure with sensitivity. Please contact us for a list of Mohelim we have work with. The family and child will meet briefly with the beit din, or group of three rabbis. This is an opportunity for the parents to discuss their plans for their child’s Jewish education, or for the child him or herself to describe why they like being Jewish, and to explain the procedure to them.

Then the baby is immersed in a small pool of rainwater, or mikveh. We use the Mayyim Hayyim Mikveh in Newton, MA. After meeting with the Beit Din, the child will prepare for immersion. For babies and younger children, a parent enters the water with the child. While the child is naked, the parent should wear a bathing suit and will recite the blessing for immersion on behalf of their child. Older children may immerse without a parent in the water and recite the blessings themselves.

To see an example of a child conversion/ affirmation, please see the video at the Mayyim Hayyim website. (Please note that the conversion in the video was done under Reform movement auspices, and there would be some differences with how JDI does this.) http://www.mayyimhayyim.org/Using-the-Mikveh/child-conversion