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Click with Judaism – Reform launches online classes for converts

It follows the conversion by Skype of Christopher Parker, a cerebral palsy sufferer from Derbyshire, who was unable to appear before the Reform Beit Din

    Christopher Parker, from Chesterfield, is one of the first coverts to Judaism by Skype
    Christopher Parker, from Chesterfield, is one of the first coverts to Judaism by Skype

    The Reform movement has launched a programme of online classes for converts to Judaism who live in “remote areas or smaller communities”, or those who cannot travel due to illness or disability.

    The classes, led by Rabbi Sybil Sheridan, are designed to complement regular classes taught in Reform shuls.

    It follows the conversion by Skype of a cerebral palsy sufferer from Derbyshire last year, who was unable to appear before the Reform Beit Din.

    Christopher Parker, a member of the small Sheffield Reform community, spent 18 months learning about Judaism in online classes before converting in September.

    Rabbi Dr Jackie Tabick, convenor of the Reform Beit Din, said: “Reform Judaism welcomes potential converts to Judaism with compassion, combining modernity with Jewish tradition.

    “In the past we have exceptionally conducted Beit Din hearings by Skype and I am delighted that we are able to expand the boundaries of inclusion in this innovative way.

    “Nevertheless, Judaism is a communal tradition and it is vital that candidates can also be present in a community to experience the reading of the Torah, hear the shofar, feel the changing atmosphere of the services through the day on Yom Kippur, wave a lulav and experience a Passover Seder.”

    The classes will be conducted as streamed services which students can follow online – although Reform Judaism has said that candidates must attend a number of Shabbat services and all the main festivals with established congregations before they convert.

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