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Kellman estimates the breakdown of students at his Orthodox conversion course in Manhattan as 30-35 percent converts who already converted outside of Orthodoxy, 30 percent relationship converts, 15 percent seekers and 15 percent drawn to Judaism for social reasons.
The vast majority of Kellman’s students are women, mostly aged 25 to 40.
The latter category includes individuals raised as Jews in non-Orthodox households who subsequently realized they don’t count as Jewish according to Orthodox Jewish law (usually because their mother isn’t halachically Jewish), as well as individuals who previously converted Reform or Conservative and then decided they wanted an Orthodox conversion.
This usually happens because they became more observant or want their Jewish status to be unimpeachable.
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So far, the site has only about 50 members from around the world, including from the US, Canada, England, the Netherlands, and Sweden — who range in age from 21 to 72.
Shamash is hoping to introduce the site in Israel as well.
To that end, Shamash launched Eldelala — which means “the matchmaker” in Arabic — in April.
In the dedication ceremony, all the Jewish institutions of Dnipropetrovsk, including Hillel, the Jewish Agency, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and other Jewish institutions from the length and breadth of the FSU entered as “one people.” This evident miracle is to the credit of the local Chabad rabbi, Shmuel Kaminetzky, who succeeded in bringing all the institutions together under one roof in the city where the late Lubavitch rabbi, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, was born.
Among the guests were the Sephardi chief rabbi of Israel, Shlomo Amar, Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein, philanthropists Gennady Bogolyubov and Igor Kolomoyskyi, Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, the chief of the 4,300 Lubavitch movement emissaries (“shluchim”) world-wide, the governor of the province and the mayor of the city, Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine, Reuven Din-El and hundreds of members of the Ukrainian Jewish community.
The only rabbi known to offer an Orthodox conversion class in the United States, Rabbi Maury Kellman of New York, has a yearlong curriculum for his Manhattan Mechina L’Giyur that covers Jewish philosophy, law, history and ethics; field trips to places like Brooklyn and Israel; and occasional Shabbaton weekends.
Prospective converts are expected to adopt Jewish practices, join an Orthodox Jewish community and regularly attend synagogue. Spiritual seekers, non-Jews dating Jews, gentiles drawn to Judaism through friends and those who converted through other Jewish denominations.
There’s even an app matches people based upon shared dislikes — as in “I saw you, too, hate paying extra for guacamole.” But one day it dawned upon Cynthia Shamash, a New York-based dentist, that it was still hard for Mizrahi Jews, or Jews from the Middle East and North Africa, to meet each other.