Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Breaking News

Russian Non-Jews Can Begin Conversion Before Immigrating to Israel

Russian non-Jews who are preparing to immigrate to Israel have been given the option of beginning their conversion to Judaism in Moscow.

This option came with the launch last week in Russia of the Maslul project, which is a joint initiative of several organizations for facilitating the conversion process for prospective immigrants even before they land in the Jewish state.

Started last year in Ukraine, the Maslul course, which was born out of a partnership between the Triguboff Institute, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Australian branch of United Israel Appeal, will operate in Russia from Moscow’s Choral Synagogue Jewish community center, headed by the city’s chief rabbi and president of the Conference of European Rabbis, Pinchas Goldschmidt.

In Moscow, a team of six people will locate eligible nominees for the project and run the educational program, which meets the curriculum of the Jewish Agency’s National Institutes for Identity and Conversion — a state-recognized entity. In Ukraine, Maslul operates a program for several dozen people, with 10 instructors. Conversion students get accredited for material covered in Maslul programs outside Israel and may complete the process in Israel.

Israel’s Law of Return for Jews gives citizenship to some people who have family ties to Jews but are not Jewish themselves according to Halacha, or religious Jewish law, and therefore can not marry under Jewish law. Israel has hundreds of thousands of citizens, mostly from former Soviet countries, who identify culturally as Jewish but are unable to marry as such in Israel because they are not recognized as Jewish.

This and other problems lead to a feeling of estrangement, according to Benjamin Ish-Shalom, the National Institute’s chairman. Many olim who are not familiar with Judaism “find themselves bewildered once they come across it after their aliyah,” he said.

Non-Jews who begin their conversion after immigrating to Israel, or making aliyah, have difficulties completing their conversion because of the hardships of immigration, Shalom Norman, the Harry O. Triguboff Israel Institute of Conversion Policy, said, adding that Maslul was designed to solve this problem.

Engage

  • SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK

  • UPCOMING EVENT

    SKY & SCULPTURE

    Hybrid: Online and at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

    Oct 2, 2022

    6:30 pm ET · 

    A Sukkah, IMKHA, created by artist Tobi Kahn, for the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan is an installation consisting of 13 interrelated sculpted painted wooden panels, constituting a single work of art. Join for a panel discussion with Rabbi Joanna Samuels, Chief Executive Director of the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan, Talya Zax, Innovation Editor of the Forward, and Tobi Kahn, Artist. Moderated by Mattie Kahn.

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.