what we do
Distance Learning & Jewish Conversion
Rabbi Barbara Aiello is honored to be a part of an exciting new adventure in Jewish Conversion and learning program through Darshan Yeshiva. “Darshan Yeshiva was founded in September 2013 in response to the growing demand for an online Jewish school that meets the needs of students seeking formal Jewish learning in a pluralistic context.
Darshan Yeshiva offers an Introduction to Judaism and a Torah study program. In addition, Darshan Yeshiva (through the help of Atlanta based Reform and post-denominational rabbis) offers an online conversion to Judaism program. Rabbi is honored to be one of the Yeshiva’s mentoring rabbis.
Jewish Conversion Program Combines Technology and Tradition to Bring B’nei Anusim Back Home
“I researched my family name and found out that its origin is Sephardic. This was one more confirmation that a Jewish soul was present in my family, confirming that my interest in Judaism is a true feeling to get back to my origins.” M. C. 2019 convert to Judaism
On July 16 and 17, 2019, M. C. traveled to Calabria to join 13 candidates to complete the year long process to become Jewish. M. C. was one of several students awarded a Status Recognition Certificate to formally connect with their lost Jewish roots.
B’nei Anusim is a Hebrew phrase that means “Children [of the] forced ones,” and refers to the descendants of Jews who were forced into Christian conversion 500 years ago during Inquisition times. Historians believe that there are approximately 250,000 “b’nei anusim” throughout the world, many of whom are longing to recover their Jewish traditions that were so cruelly stolen from them during the years of Jewish persecution five centuries ago.
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The ritual immersion, the “mikveh’ is a spiritually transformative experience, As our candidates immerse in the calm, clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea, they take a new and important step on their personal Jewish journey.
“Thank you for a wonderful conversion experience (My wife) Diane was very touched and drawn to all she seen and heard over the days spent together & I thoroughly enjoyed the few days together in what seemed like a re uniting with old friends and family, which it was was really as the sages teach! And I came home to a big party in our house that Diane had organized of family and friends, a Mazel Tov party as she called it!!!!”
“I want to especially thank you for being my Rabbi and holding my hand throughout the (conversion) process; you are super important to me! So many, many good memories of the whole course and skyping, as well as this past weekend. I really can’t thank you enough… I could go on and on. And being Italian to boot really was the icing on the cake!”
“Barbara- you are making a huge difference in the lives of so many people. Thanks for being open to me participating in the most powerful Jewish experience I’ve had in working with people. While I’ve taught over 85 people who have converted to Judaism and sat on a bet din about 20 times, none were like this one – Amazing”
“I am grateful for the effort you dedicated to my restorative conversion. I am am particularly thankful for the dedication that Janine and Rena demonstrated in the Bet Din.” ~Eli
Mazel Tov to Eli B., who appeared before Rabbi Barbara Aiello, Darshan Yeshiva Mentoring Rabbi, Rabbinic Associate, Rena M., and Holocaust Survivor Jeanine L., for his Bet Din – a detailed conversation leading to becoming a Jew By Choice.
Following ritual immersion in the mikveh, we were honored to present Eli with his formal certificate and welcome Eli B., home to Judaism. For Eli, whose family traces their ancestry to the b’nei anusim – Jews who were forced into Christian conversion during Inquisition times, this was an important step in reconnecting him with his Jewish roots.