Are You Our Sisters? Resistance, Belonging, and Recognition in Israeli Reform Jewish Female Converts




conversion, identity, Reform Judaism, gender, Israel, immigrants


The religious conversion process is a significant expression of an individual’s intention to gain a new religious identity and be included in a particular religious community. Those who wish to join the Jewish people undergo giyur (conversion), which includes observing rituals and religious practices. While previous research on Jewish conversions in Israel focused on the experiences of persons who converted under Orthodox auspices, this study analyzes the experiences of female immigrants from the former Soviet Union (FSU) and the Philippines who chose to convert through the Reform Movement in Israel. Based on qualitative research, we discovered that the non-Orthodox process, which is based on liberal values, not only grants converts under the aegis of Reform entry to the Jewish people, but promotes their affiliation with the Reform Movement and advances their acculturation into Jewish Israeli society. Their choice is a political decision, an act of resistance against an Orthodox Israeli religious monopoly, and an expression of spiritual motivations. The converts become social agents who strengthen the Reform Movement’s socio-political position in Israel, where it struggles against discrimination. Furthermore, since most converts are women, new intersections between religion, gender, and nationality are exposed.


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How to Cite

Libel-Hass, E., & Ben-Lulu , E. (2024). Are You Our Sisters? Resistance, Belonging, and Recognition in Israeli Reform Jewish Female Converts. Politics and Religion Journal, 18(1), 131–157.