Skip To Content
Fast Forward

Jewish Outreach Group Ramps Up Conversions In Africa, Latin America

The international Jewish outreach group Kulanu is trumpeting their 2017 accomplishments, including organizing more than 150 Jewish conversions in Africa and Latin America.

“This year, Kulanu teams traveled to Nicaragua in July and Côte d’Ivoire in December to help people who had been preparing for years to convert to Judaism,” the New York-based group wrote in a Facebook post.

During a trip to Nicaragua, Kulanu members assisted 114 members of a community there convert to Judaism. In Côte d’Ivoire, 48 members of a community went through a group conversion.

Kulanu is a volunteer group that provides religious and material support to what they call “isolated, emerging, and returning Jewish communities,” mostly overseas. The group was founded in 1994, originally as a group of American supporters of the work of Israeli rabbi Eliyahu Avichail, who spent much of his life searching for descendants of the “lost tribes of Israel.” Kulanu later separated from Avichail’s group.

In recent years, the group has ramped up their efforts to organize a traveling beit din, or rabbinical court, to respond to queries from communities seeking conversion. Participating rabbis come from a range of denominations, including Orthodox Judaism. In 2016, a beit din traveled to the African island nation of Madagascar and oversaw the conversions of more than one hundred men and women.

Judaism’s growth in some parts of Africa has seen increased attention in the last few years. Earlier this month, a Kenyan Jew (whose conversion Kulanu helped organize) was barred from entry to Israel.

To read more about Kulanu, go here and here.

Email Sam Kestenbaum at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum


Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.