Question: Why is it so expensive to convert to Judaism?
I am I the process of an Orthodox conversion and I am really torn on committing because I feel that the process is so corrupt. I have been studying with a local rabbi since last year. Now that we are ready to set an appointment with the beit din, our rabbi tells us that the other rabbis require $5,000.00 to interview me. I feel this is absurd. My husband was able to negotiate down to $2,500.00, which I still feel is ridiculous. Is this normal? I have also paid for every private class that I was required to take with my local rabbi (about $30-$40 per class). Why is it so expensive?
Answer: Dear T.S.,
Thank you for your question and allow me to publicly state that I am deeply shocked and saddened by what you have experienced. The concluding costs you mention for your conversion are simply absurd.
That being said, there is a reality to everything in life, and conversion is no different. A rabbi is entitled to charge for his time in the preparation and teaching of conversion courses so $30 per course may not be so ridiculous depending on the situation. So too, the use of a mikva can understandably be subject to a fee as any public facility, such as a pool and the like, in order to help with maintenance costs. Additionally,there may be legitimate costs for people's time throughout this process (the mikva attendant, secretary of the Beit Din, etc).
Beyond such charges there is no place for finances in the conversion process. I will refrain from sharing my thoughts publicly on rabbis who have turned conversion and other sacred matters into money making opportunities.
If there is no clear, transparent, and itemized rational to the $5,000 or $2,500 you are being asked to now pay --- then run away as fast as you can from such a Beit Din.
Yours very truly,
Rabbi Ari Enkin
Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel