French converts with Yakir members
French converts with Yakir members Yoni Kempsinski

A one-year conversion course for young people from France came to a close on Wednesday as the converts made their way to Yakir as part of a Masa program accompanied by the Ami Conversion Center under the authority of Rabbi Haim Druckman. 

The group of French men and women took part in a unique program, which included an intensive year of study on the Jewish religion, Hebrew language and the State of Israel, with the goal of reaching the long-awaited day of conversion.

Every member of the course passed and they were converted by the Rabbinical Court in Tel Aviv. They immersed themselves in a special mikveh (ritual bath) in Hod HaSharon, officially becoming members of the Jewish people. 

Arutz Sheva was on hand as the group completed the much-awaited conversions, speaking to converts, Ami Conversion Center officials and members of the Yakir community. 

Tehila (formerly Onjelik), who completed the conversion process on Wednesday, called it "a great day for me which I have waited for for a long time. It released me from a burden I had on my heart. I have awaited this day."

Karmi Ronen, the CEO of the Ami Conversion Center, spoke about the long process the young converts had underwent. 

"We have the merit to accompany this group as they reach the stage of the ritual immersing in water. This is a special group - many are interested in immigrating from France, some of them have Jewish ancestry but are not actually Jewish. They joined through the Shvut program of MASA and with the AMI conversion schools, they learned for a whole year and prepared themselves to this final step. They are joining the people of Israel and then, most of them, will be immigrating to the Land of Israel," Ronen stated.

"They were accompanied the whole year by the residents of Yakir, learning there for around 30 hours a week. The families today feel part of the conversion, and as someone said - this is like a birth. That's the secret of a good conversion - when there's a family that adopts and accompanies the process." 

Rabbi Aharon Kohen, the Chief Rabbi of Yakir and head of its Conversion Seminary, welcomed the converts.

"This is the building of the Temple, which begins when the people of Israel accept these [converts]...when we see how the nation of Israel accepts and receives these people with much warmth and love, the way the court accepts them, the way the accompanying families treat them... this shows that the nation of Israel comprehends what a great time this is."

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