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16,000 Reported Converted to Reform Judaism During Ten-year Period

Conversions to Reform Judaism in the New York area have tripled in the last decade, according to a report issued today by the Federation of Reform Synagogues here. A study, based on 10 years of conversion classes, showed that conversions have become more readily acceptable; that converts are extremely devoted and dedicated members of the Jewish faith with a large majority joining synagogues; and that marriage accounts for 90 percent of the converts.

The report, covering the years 1954-64, stated that the classes, which were initiated by the Federation a decade ago, had grown in enrollment from less than 100 to more than 300 annually. This year, from January to the middle of June, 150 students entered the course–45 men and 105 women. Of this group, 91 completed the nine-week course in basic Judaism, and their conversion ceremonies are taking place during the next few weeks.

Rabbi Daniel L. Davis, director of the New York Federation of Reform Synagogues, estimated that, during the past decade, Reform Judaism has converted about 16,000 people. This figure, he said, “has sharply increased during the past few years by several hundred, so that today our annual figure is well over the 2,000 mark.” He observed that, based on the registration statistics and information gathered throughout the country, “90 percent of the Jewish conversions are due to marital reasons.”

On December 10, 1963, the Federation began gathering more comprehensive data on persons registering for conversion classes, including family background, former religious affiliation and Jewish background. As a result, data gathered between December 1963 and December 1963, showed that, of 295 registered students, 205 were women and 90 were men. In this group, 36 people (16 men, 20 women) came to study Judaism without partners.

The religious background designated by the 295 students on the cards indicated that 170 were Roman Catholic, 21 Protestant, 20 Methodist, 19 Episcopalian, 18 Lutheran, 12 Presbyterian and the remainder divided among other Protestant denominations. Rabbi Davis explained the large Roman Catholic tabulation as “indicative of New York only” adding, “I would venture to guess that this is due to the fact that many Jews and Italians work together and go to school together in this city.”

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