I have been participating in a Reform congregation and a reconstructionist minyan for a little over a year now. But my move towards full observance has made me feel uncomfortable among my Reform congregation so I have begun to look for a community that is more accepting of observant individuals.
Recently, I went to a Conservative Shabbat service and stayed the whole day for their kiddush and lecture series. I was really impressed with it. I’ve yet to convert to any of the branches of Judaism formally, but I was able to follow along with the prayer service much easier than I thought and the service moved me on a level I can’t quite describe. For some reason I knew the melodies almost instinctively. It really felt like the first time I’ve ever really belonged in a spiritual service in my life. They even motivated me to order my own set of tefillin. I’ve never properly committed to the daily davening schedule, but as soon as they come, I fully intend to set up an alarm schedule and to begin doing so.
However, none of the congregants wore a tallit katan which I wear daily and none of them had peyos and I am growing mine out. Also few of them have beards and mine is beginning to look a little Z.Z top-ish. I feel like I may have stuck out like a sore thumb among the Conservative congregants slightly, which wasn’t my intention.
So, I got a copy of the RCA siddur and began looking into orthodox Judaism. There are several shuls in my town and while none of them are presently within walking distance, there are several apartments within an 18 minute walk of them that I could afford in theory.
If I wanted to attempt to convert to M.O. Judaism, how would I best proceed? None of the orthodox shuls in town have formal conversion programs, and only one of the Rabbis is a member of the RCA. Can any orthodox rabbi sponsor a candidate for conversion? How should I approach a rabbi I have no preexisting relationship with about a request of this magnitude?