Conversion Candidate Using Public Transportation to Get to Preferred Shul


Chicago, IL

A woman who converted to Judaism under Reform auspices and is married to a Jewish husband is interested in relocating to our neighborhood and will eventually undergo another giyur (conversion) under Orthodox auspices. She does not currently live in our neighborhood and knows that she will not be able to complete her conversion until she moves to the neighborhood. For various financial reasons, it could be as long as three years before she is able to relocate.

Until she relocates and converts, can I encourage her to use public transit or Uber to attend Shabbat and holiday tefillot at our shul? I am concerned about her ability to retain a commitment to Judaism over a period of years without being part of a regular shul community. There are shuls in walking distance to her current home, but her husband does not feel comfortable at any of them, yet he does feel comfortable at our shul. He is otherwise supportive of the family becoming more observant.




Yes, you may advise her to take either the public transportation or Uber.

Getting to shul is certainly makom mitzvah (Pri Megadim Eshel Avraham OC 307:8, Pri Megadim Eshel Avraham OC 613:8, Minchat Yitchak 2:104). Additionally, there is a huge mitzvah of drawing someone close to Judaism, converting, making her home more mitzvah observant, etc. Given that we have makom mitzvah, the goal is to do it in a way that is תרי דרבנן (double derabanan), which when combined would allow for leniency (Shulchan Arukh OC 307:5).

Using a bus is only an issue of mekach u’memkar (and muktzeh) because of the necessity to pay either with cash or a bus pass. If there is such a thing as a monthly pass so that it is not transactional, and no money is being deducted from the card then I would say do that and use a shinuy (to address moving muktzeh and also using the electric card reader).

Assuming that doesn’t work, then I would arrange for a car service before Shabbat. In order to ensure that they don’t cause the interior light to go on, they should have the driver open the door for them. In this way, you are dealing with amirah lenokhri before Shabbat, which I think would be fine here. As well, if it’s a call to a regular taxi company where you are speaking to an actual dispatcher (and not a Lyft or Uber where it is all done through an application), then it would be amirah d’amirah on Erev Shabbat, which according to some poskim would be completely permitted (Biur Halakha 307 s.v. ve’afilu).

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