Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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10 Cheshvan 5760 - October 20, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Vaad LeInyonei Giyur Condemns Eretz Chemda Beis Din

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

Recently, the Eretz Chemda Institute, headed by the chairman of its executive board, Shalom Wasserteil, and by its kollel heads, Rabbi Moshe Ehrenreich and Rabbi Yosef Carmel, circulated a newsletter to the friends of the institute and to others regarding the appointment of Rabbi Daniel Man as coordinator of the founding of Eretz Chemda's beis din. One of the purposes of this beis din is "to handle, in conjunction with the Conversion Administration in the Chief Rabbinate, problems stemming from the immigration wave of the past decade." According to the circular, former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu and HaRav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, a member of the Supreme Rabbinical Court, will serve as presidents of this new beis din.

In response to a query from the spokesman of the Vaad HaRabbonim Haolami LeInyonei Giyur headed by HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth, the chairman of the Conversion Administration denied any connection to the above mentioned court. A senior official in the Chief Rabbi's office also confirmed that the Chief Rabbinate has not given any approval to this beis din.

The Vaad's spokesman sharply protested the founding of a private conversion court, whose sole intention is to encourage an extensive "conversion" industry, and to issue Judaism certificates to immigrants from the C.I.S. "There is no place in Israel for private conversion courts, and maranan verabonon maintain that the entire issue of conversions must be entrusted only to the permanent and prominent rabbinical courts."

The circular included an address in Chicago to forward donations for Eretz Chemda. According to the Vaad spokesman, this represents an even further deterioration in the purpose of the new beis din, if it will serve as a publicity stunt to raise funds under the guise of solving problems of the new immigrants.

Recently, the special conversion court in Or Etzion, headed by Rabbis Druckman and Avior, has been the most active of the special conversion courts in the country, and many candidates rejected by other rabbinical courts are transferred there, where they undergo quickie conversions, in contempt of the directives of the Chief Rabbinate.

After Succos, a delegation of rabbonim and dayanim from Europe met with Chief Rabbi of Israel Yisroel Meir Lau, and sharply decried the difficult problems the special court in Or Etzion is causing in the area of conversion in Europe, due to its total defiance of Europe's rabbonim and its lack of authority to conduct conversions on behalf of the Chief Rabbinate. The main places that these conversions take place is where the regular Jewish community is weak, such as in Germany and Austria.

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