Their first high holidays: Meet Canada’s newest Jewish converts

The men's conversion in Kelowna, B.C., held in July 2021. (Photo by Dr. Steven Finkleman, president of the Okanagan Jewish Community Centre)

Canada’s Jewish community is a little larger this high holiday season. In July, 11 adults and two young children officially converted—and all of them live in Kelowna, B.C., with a Jewish population of about 500.

Well, about 513 now.

This was a unique conversion process for many reasons. Being virtual, of course, classes were led by rabbis from across the country over Zoom. Since Kelowna doesn’t have a mikvah, the converts took a dip on the beach in Lake Okanagan.

And the converts’ individual reasons for joining Judaism are myriad. None are for the usual reasons, like getting married or joining the Israel army. Somehow, they all found each other in their tight-knit community and came to the same spiritual realization.

Today, two of the women join the show, along with the rabbi who led the conversion, to discuss their reasons for converting, what the process was like during a pandemic and how they feel going into their first-ever high holiday season.

What we talked about:

  • Visit the Okanagan Jewish Community Centre at
  • Listen to members of Kelowna’s community on Yehupetzville, our podcast about small-town Canadian Jews, at
  • Read about how Canadians can help Afghan refugees at
  • Learn about B’nai Brith Canada’s emergency Afghan refugee relief campaign at

The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Victoria Redden is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network; find more great Jewish podcasts at