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Brit Milah/Hatafat: Require Hatafat Dam Brit (I suggest that the Hatafat be done by a medical doctor and that the student is provided with a receipt. Brit blessings are made during the Bet Din and Conversion ceremony. No full circumcision is required.)
Mikvah: Yes (The Mediterranean Sea, Lamezia Terme, Calabria or The Gulf of Mexico, Sarasota, FL)
Bet Din: Yes, bet din may include rabbis and/or lay Jews
Conversion Location: Serrastretta, Italy (southern Italy) and Sarasota, FL
Other Languages: Italian, American Sign Language
Students Accepted: Scholarship, Chai, Mitzvah
Pandemic-related safety measures:
– Brit milah/hatafat: No change
– Mikvah: No change
– Beit din: Socially distant in front of the Bet Din rabbis and learned lay-Jews
I work with candidates who are:
– Families: I do not require spouses/partners to convert, but I do require that the significant other speak with me prior to conversion so that I can emphasize how important is “Shalom Bayit,” peace in the home. I talk with the candidate about being respectful toward their partner who may be supportive but not want to participate in Jewish rituals.
– In interfaith or dual-faith relationships: If you are part of an interfaith relationship and your partner is not Jewish, I require a meeting (in person or via Skype) with your partner to discuss how your conversion to Judaism will affect family harmony. It is so important that the potential convert is able to create a Jewish home and that the non-Jewish partner is supportive of this initiative. If there are young children in your interfaith family, I require that they participate in Jewish family rituals and observance, but a formal conversion of your children is not required.
I am a pulpit rabbi with 23 years of congregational experience, currently serving as rabbi of Sinagoga Ner Tamid del Sud, a Reconstructionist congregation.. I came to the rabbinate later in life, after a career as a special education teacher, counselor, and a professional puppeteer – as a creator of The Kids on the Block international educational puppet program. When I made the decision to study for the rabbinate, I found that I was the oldest in my class and my fellow students called me “Rabbi Mama!”. I have an MS in education/psychology from George Washington University, a para-rabbinic certificate from Hebrew Union College, smicha (ordination) from Rabbinical Seminary International, and advanced smicha from The Rabbinic Academy.
As a result of my personal journey, I am open and sensitive to those students who slowly and steadily have been drawn to Jewish life. As the first and only woman rabbi in Italy and the first and only non-orthodox rabbi in Italy, I have had the pleasure and honor to work with many “b’nei anusim” students – those who have discovered and now desire formally to embrace their Jewish roots. I have learned how important it is to extend the hand of Jewish welcome to all those who are drawn to Jewish studies and conversion. I am honored to assist you on your personal Jewish journey.
Mazel Tov on your desire to immerse yourself in Jewish studies. As a supervising rabbi, I applaud your motivation and initiative!
BS, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Masters, George Washington University
Rabbinical Seminary International