One of the biggest questions facing a prospective convert to Judaism is which denomination to convert into. The good news is that, in a sense, you don’t actually have to completely choose: a Jew is a Jew, and when you convert into Judaism, you don’t convert into Reform or Orthodox Judaism, you simply convert into Judaism. If you like the services at a Reform synagogue but want to convert with a Conservative or Orthodox rabbi, great! Just keep in mind that some Orthodox rabbis might not accept some liberal conversions, so if there is a community you want to join, you will want to convert with that rabbi.

The first thing you should do is to try out different services. Keep in mind, though, that you may like one kind of service and another philosophy; that is fine! It is perfectly okay to attend Reform services and convert with a Conservative rabbi.

Reform services tend to be shorter and almost entirely in English. They also tend to have less of a traditional davvening “flow” like in an Orthodox service (I’ll get to that). There are a lot of readings and music, including some great contemporary settings on guitar or other instruments. Together with Reconstructionist and Renewal, they tend to focus on social issues, and be passionate about “social justice” (called tikkun olam) in a way other denominations do not. Reform services often take place on Friday night, and last about an hour.

Renewal services are also very accessible, but try to recreate the traditional davenning feel, a sort of meditative chanting where everybody is chanting in Hebrew or English in parallel. They focus on the spiritual feeling of the service, and helping people feel the prayers in a deep way. They often use great music, but may have a little more Hebrew than Reform, presented in a way anybody can follow along.

Conservative services tend to be longer (1 hour Friday night, 2-3 hours Saturday morning) and have more extended Hebrew than Reform and Renewal. Conservative services generally do the full text of the prayers (matbe’ah), either in Hebrew or English, so there is a lot of silent time during which participants are expected to be saying the prayers quietly, themselves. Unlike Orthodox, the Conservative movement allows women and men to sit together, and allows women to lead services. Often, the Torah reading will follow the triennial cycle, where they do not read the entire Torah portion each Shabbat, but rather a third of it each year.

There is a range of Reconstructionist services, but they tend to be somewhat like Conservative but with changes to the prayerbook to reflect their beliefs. For example, they believe it is offensive to call Jews “chosen,” so they use different wording in the prayer over the Torah.

Orthodox services are entirely in Hebrew, and cover the full liturgy and Torah reading. They sometimes are faster than Conservative, however, since there is less readings and singing and more davenning (individual praying/quiet chanting).

Give yourself some time, and try out the different synagogues in your area to see which one is the best fit for you.