The Jerusalem-based non-profit Shavei Israel, in partnership with the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), is opening a new English-language conversion institute in Jerusalem. The institute, named Machon Milton, will operate under the auspices of Israel’s chief rabbinate and prepare candidates for the conversion process.
Shavei Israel Founder and Chairman Michael Freund said his organization and the RCA are launching the institute because of the growing need and demand for it, as only a handful of options currently exist in Jerusalem for English speakers who wish to undergo formal conversion to Judaism. The institute is named in memory of Freund’s late grandfather, Milton Freund, who was a prominent Zionist and Jewish leader.
For 15 years Shavei Israel has operated Machon Miriam, a unique conversion institute that offers preparatory classes in Italian, Portuguese and Spanish, and has now decided to offer a similar option for English speakers.
“We felt it was the next logical step: to open an English-language institute that would provide a warm, supportive and welcoming environment for those who wish to tie their fate with the people of Israel or return to their roots,” Freund said.
“As the premier rabbinical organization in America, the RCA was the perfect partner for this undertaking and we are delighted to be joining hands with them in this important undertaking,” Freund added.
Freund and the director of the RCA’s Israel region, Rabbi Reuven Tradburks, discussed the idea several years ago, but recently grew convinced this was the right time to start the program.
“Now that I have spent considerable time with the staff at Shavei Israel, I am even more convinced of the benefit to us to partner with the organization,” he said. “The staff are efficient, effective and most importantly working for the good of the Jewish people and for those wanting to join the Jewish people. There is a lot of concern, lots of smiling and warmth.”
Rabbi Mark Dratch, executive vice president of the RCA, said, “The RCA’s rabbinical courts for conversion in North American are the gold standard of conversion. We believe the same high quality is enjoyed by Shavei Israel in its conversion programs and we look forward to the partnership with the RCA in helping people in their quest to be a part of the Jewish people.”