Question: I want to convert and need help finding a rabbi and Judaism course in New York.
Dear Rabbi Lerner,
I am committed to converting to Judaism, but I have been having a difficult time finding a Reform Rabbi to guide and convert me in Long Island or Queens, New York. Do you know where I can find a Rabbi and a Judaism course in my area?
Answer: Dear Matthew,
When it comes to conversion, unless you have researched the issue unusually well - and that generally means that you have met with at least one local Rabbi of each Jewish movement - I would urge that you not narrow your choice for a program of conversion or mentoring Rabbi.
There are differences between the movements in terms of practice, worship, rituals, customs and emphases, and they need to be understood as you make your commitment to being part of the Jewish People.
In addition, there are differences very often in the programs of instruction that also reflect these emphases, e.g. length of instruction in months, requirements of Hebrew reading to facilitate participation in rituals wherever you settle, depth of knowledge of Jewish life cycle and calendar cycle, Jewish history, Hebrew Bible, theology, etc.
In addition, you should consider the rituals for conversion if only to understand your "status" in the Jewish community, here and world-wide, that the program of your choice entails, circumcision, mikveh. Again, ask each Rabbi with whom you meet in depth all of your questions - there ought to be no rush and no question not worthy of discussion.
In your area, there are scores of Rabbis of all movements. Just pick up a phone and begin calling.
These are not minor issues and they are not easily "summarized" in a few weeks, no matter who is instructing or which movement. Examine all of your options - that's my advice to all potential Jews by Choice.
In specific answer to your question, the Reform movement can be reached at 212.650.4221, and the Conservative movement can be reached at 212-533-7800.