This piece was first published in The Times of Israel.
It seems there’s nothing a person can’t do online these days — including converting to Judaism.
PunkTorah, an Atlanta-based non-profit organization and online community, is investigating the possibility of launching a digital distance learning conversion to Judaism program. It claims that the conversions will be valid and that anyone who says otherwise would be ignoring halacha, or Jewish law.
“People have been begging us to do this,” says Rabbi Patrick “Aleph” Beaulier, PunkTorah’s founder and director and rosh yeshiva of its associated Darshan Yeshiva, an online Jewish spiritual leadership school.
Beaulier, 30, is also the spiritual leader ofOneShul, the online pluralistic synagogue that is an outgrowth of PunkTorah. He reports 250,000 individuals interact in varying ways and degrees with the organization’s network every year.
“Our community is for people who have fallen through the cracks of Jewish life,” Beaulier explains. “A large portion of those who use our resources are Jews-by-choice or are interested in converting.”
Those seeking conversion tell Beaulier they either don’t have a synagogue or Jewish community where they live, or they don’t want to go outside the PunkTorah community to go through the process.
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© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.