For the person who is not born of an Yisraelite father there is an open invitation to accept the Eternal One as their God and become a Yehudi. This system of conversion used by Rabbinical Judaism is not based upon the Tanakh but upon rabbinical decrees and rules. According to the Tanakh a person who declares his or her intention before witnesses of following the Eternal One as God and keeping Torah is considered a Yehudi. The only additional requirement is for all males to be circumcised.
For those wishing to convert Karaite Judaism he or she must accept the three fundamental principles of Karaite Judaism.1
1. Believe in the Eternal One as the only God and renounce all others.
2. Believe in the Tanakh as the words of the Eternal One and the only religious authority – renounce all other writings, doctrines, and creeds as words of men.
3. Study and keep the Tanakh while striving to interpret the Tanakh according to its peshat (plain) meaning.
In addition, the person will also need to accept the principles expressed in the ancient Karaite Vow:
By the covenant of Mount Sinai and the statutes of Mount Horev I will keep the holy appointed times of YHVH according to the New Moon and the finding of the Aviv in the Holy Land of Yisrael, when possible.1
The basis of conversion is found in the Torah.
If a stranger (ger) who dwells with you would offer the Passover to the Eternal One, all his males must be circumcised; then he shall be admitted to offer it; he shall then be as a citizen of the country. But no uncircumcised person may eat of it. There shall be one law for the citizen and for the stranger who dwells among you. (Shemot12:48-49)2
From these passages we derive the following regarding conversion.
The potential convert must live in a Karaite community (although this is not necessarily a requirement today).
- All males must be circumcised.
- All converts must purify themselves and their homes.
- A period of learning in (or with) a Karaite community must take place.
- Conversion candidates must refrain from celebrating Passover until their conversion is complete.
- Upon finalizing the conversion the candidate must make a public declaration of his/her intent to convert and leave all other faith systems.3
A Yehudi is someone who believes that the Eternal One is the One and only God and declares his or her intention to follow Tanakh and declare that Yisrael is his or her people. There is always an open invitation for those who wish to leave the man-made laws of Rabbinical Judaism and the non-Tanakh based faith systems of the world to become a Yehudi.
1Nehemia Gordon. “Conversion FAQ.” karaite-korner.org. Karaite-Korner, n.d. [http://www.karaite-korner.org/conversion_faq.htm]
2David Stein (ed.). JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1999.
3al-Qirqisani Center. An Introduction to Karaite Judaism: History, Theology, Practice, and Custom. Troy, NY: al-Qirqisani Center for the Promotion of Karaite Studies, 2003.