It is important for someone who is considering conversion to not only reflect on why they want to convert to Judaism, but also on why they are choosing Orthodoxy in particular. Orthodox Judaism is the most demanding and taxing of the denominations and has the most strenuous conversion process. Desiring to become Jewish is crucial to the conversion process and will not obviate the need to determine why Orthodoxy was chosen.
Some common reason to choose Orthodoxy include near universal recognition, authenticity and a community of engaged members.
Near Universal Recognition
Most Jewish communities will accept the conversion done by those within their community and by those to the “right” of them. They will not always accept a conversion to the “left” of them. For example, an Orthodox community, which includes day schools, shuls and other religious institutions, will accept other Orthodox conversions, but will likely not accept conversions done by Reform or Conservative rabbis. This can be painful for individuals who threw their lot in with the Jewish people only to find out later on that they are not accepted as a full-fledged Jew by a good portion of the engaged Jewish population. Especially painful is the repercussion this might have on children. According to Orthodox halacha, only children born of a Jewish woman are considered Jewish (unless a conversion has taken place). If a woman converted under non-Orthodox auspices, her children might discover later on in life that they are not considered Jewish, which would impact whom they might marry, whether they can make Aliyah and get recognized as Jewish; or even if they can attend Jewish day schools. Choosing an Orthodox conversion which has near universal recognition and acceptance, mitigates these fears. The word “near” universal recognition is used because it is always possible that there will be some Orthodox Jews who don’t accept the conversion officiated by other Orthodox Jews.
While each Jewish denomination sincerely strives to do what they believe they are guided to with all of the knowledge available to them, Orthodox Judaism can claim the mantle of the most consistent practice with the practices and texts of yore. While evolution and alterations most certainly happened over the millennia, (Abraham did not put on Tefillin; Hillel did not know what kitniyot are) the closest replica to what our ancestors over the centuries had practiced would be Orthodox Judaism. While we can hardly begin to comprehend the exact will of our Creator, binding our practice to the unbroken, if circuitous, chain means that we do not stand alone, but rather with centuries of Jews.
Orthodox Jews do not have a monopoly on community, however, it is certainly a strength of ours. Due to the prohibition of driving a car on Shabbat, Jews are required to live in walking distance to a shul and are therefore are walking distance to one another. Rather than being the only Jew in town, a built in community is a feature of our people. Orthodoxy believes in the concept of being commanded to perform and observe the mitzvot. As such, an excited candidate will be surrounded by others who are equally motivated to observe halacha. Jewish law pushes observant Jews together, through mitzvot like keeping kosher, observing the holidays and attending synagogue. If one is going to transform one’s life on the journey to become Jewish, entering into a community of like-minded and similar practicing Jews becomes essential.