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    Converting a child – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. How can we allow infants to be converted to Judaism when they can’t yet think for themselves?

    A. When the mother of an infant is converted to Judaism, the child’s conversion is usually carried out at about the same time. A conversion is also carried out when a Jewish couple adopt the child of a non-Jewish birth mother.

    The validity of a small child’s conversion depends on whether being Jewish is regarded as an advantage for the child, in which case there is a presumption of consent. However, when the child reaches the age of Bar- or Bat-Mitzvah he or she has the right to repudiate the conversion, though cases of repudiation are very rare and highly unlikely if the child is brought up in an observant Jewish home and given a Jewish education. This entails kashrut, Shabbat observance, Torah study and synagogue attendance; Rabbi Moshe Feinstein ruled that at the very least the parents must commit themselves to an orthodox Jewish day school education for their child.

    The purpose is not to impose Judaism upon someone who may not want it, but to share the conviction that a child will find that Jewishness makes such sense and is a rich source of inspiration and a great blessing.

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