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What is a Ger?

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Question: What is a Ger?

Answer: A Ger is a convert to Judaism. A non-Jew who wants to convert to Judaism is first discouraged so that his/her true desire to adopt Judaism and enter the Jewish community is confirmed.

The great-grandmother of King David was a convert named Ruth. Two of Hillel's teachers, Shemaiah and Avtalyon, were from the families of converts. The Torah expects Jews to treat converts as full members of the Jewish community, without any discrimination.

The more traditional (orthodox) and more progressive (reform) branches of Judaism disagree over the requirements for conversion. According to orthodox Judaism and the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law), a convert must also agree to observe the mitzvot (commandments) of the Torah. In addition, a male convert must undergo ritual immersion in a mikveh and circumcision, and a female convert must immerse herself in a mikveh.

Today there is a growing interest in conversion due to the increase in interfaith relations and intermarriage. Orthodox Jews discourage conversion for reasons of marriage, but more liberal branches of Judaism accept conversion for this reason.

Conversion has become a hot political issue in Israel today, with orthodox Jews claiming the exclusive right to validate conversions.

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