Question: What is the cost of conversion to Judaism?
Answer: Thank you for writing. As a Conservative rabbi, I can give you information about the costs of a Conservative conversion.
Most often Conservative rabbis participate in a "Hillel School" in which potential candidates for conversion join together in study and provide each other with support. Education is a critical part of the conversion process, and teachers should be paid for their time. Most fees for a "Hillel School" are minimal, and discounts are often provided for those in financial need.
The educational part of the conversion process, often, includes meetings with a synagogue rabbi. The rabbi meets with the candidate to maintain a personal connection, to review what is being learned, and to provide general support. In addition, those in the process of converting are expected to attend services.
After the educational sequence is completed, candidates decide whether they wish to continue the conversion process or not. Those who want to proceed, at this point, are "examined" by three members of a Jewish "beit din" (court). The court tries to discertain the sincerity of the person's motives to convert. The rabbis who participate in the court most often do so gratis; although contributions to a charity of their choice or to their synagogue are encouraged and greatly appreciated. When funds are tight, however, a letter of appreciation is as precious as a check!
Male converts need to be circumcised. If a man is already circumcised, then there is a minor ritual with a minimal fee or even no fee.
Lastly, candidates immerse themselves in a Jewish ritual bath known as a mikveh. The cost of the mikveh or ritual bath is also often beyond our control, but it is not outrageous.
There are other conversion costs which are beyond the control of the rabbis. Examples include the cost of books and the cost of Jewish ritual objects (although brass and other materials are just as "Jewish" as those made of silver and gold <grin>).
A Conservative conversion, therefore, should be affordable, even to those who are financially stressed.