Shalom! I’m Rabbi Braham David, the director of the Jewish Discovery Institute (JDI), a local Conservative movement-associated organization that welcomes interfaith couples and individuals into Jewish life. JDI was established in 1965 as the Gerim Institute. Since that time we have performed thousands of conversions and affirmations for both adults and children.
Many people reach out to us when they are considering conversion and want to know how to begin the process. I start by telling them about our “Pathways to Judaism” program, JDI’s 25-session intensive “Introduction to Judaism” program.
In 2016, JDI affiliated with the Miller Intro to Judaism Program, a program based at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, dedicated to inspiring and empowering Jews by choice, interfaith families and all those who seek a spiritual home in the Jewish community. Through this new partnership, JDI students have access to “On One Foot,” a first-of-its-kind course book and curriculum for welcoming newcomers to the Jewish people.
JDI has established a long-term collaborative partnership with Mayyim Hayyim: Living Waters Community Mikveh and Paula Brody & Family Education Center. Through this partnership, JDI assisted in the development of Mayyim Hayyim’s new curriculum, “Now What? A Post-Conversion Program for New Jews.” Based on a course run jointly by JDI and Mayyim Hayyim, this curriculum is now available nationwide, filling an important gap to support individuals and couples who have recently chosen Judaism. JDI also collaborates closely with and co-sponsors several programs with local counterparts, including InterfaithFamily and Reform Jewish Outreach Boston.
Augmenting our innovative programming, JDI connects each conversion student with a local sponsoring rabbi to guide their Jewish learning process and facilitate connections within the larger Jewish community. Our fall 2017 “Pathways to Judaism” class has 35 students from at least five different countries working with 14 sponsoring rabbis from 11 local communities, including synagogues, university Hillel organizations and independent prayer groups (minyanim). Many students complete JDI’s “Pathways to Judaism” program and formally convert to Judaism. Other participants may decide not to convert at this time, or at all, but welcome the opportunity to learn more about Judaism and Jewish traditions. JDI proactively maintains connections with all participants, regardless of their personal conversion decisions, to support them and make them feel welcome in the Jewish community.
JDI’s mission is to work with individuals and interfaith couples who wish to explore Judaism. As the first local, Conservative movement-affiliated program in the country to engage in interfaith outreach and programming, JDI offers highly accessible classes on topics such as Jewish prayer, basic Judaism, Jewish holidays and religious observance. JDI also works with many local Conservative and unaffiliated synagogues to raise awareness about the needs and concerns of interfaith couples and families within their communities. Please visit our website or Facebook page for a full description of JDI’s current course and programming opportunities.
As JDI’s director, I often meet with interfaith couples about their conversion plans, wedding plans, navigating family dynamics, raising Jewish children when one parent is not Jewish and helping them make connections with local Jewish communities. These conversations often extend to parents of adult children in interfaith relationships about their feelings and concerns.
Whatever is on your mind, let’s talk about it! I would be delighted to meet you over coffee to discuss any of these topics and more. Feel free to email me or be in touch by phone at 617-219-9775. I look forward to hearing from you!
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