The Vaad HaRabbonim Haolami LeInyonei Giyur headed by HaRav Chaim
Kreiswirth recently condemned the activities of the Eretz Chemdah
Institute, which intends to set up conversion botei din to
"solve the problems" of non- Jewish immigrants arriving from
The Vaad's protest came in the wake of an official announcement by
Eretz Chemdah and its executive director Shalom Wasserteil, and the
heads of the Institute's kollel, Rabbi Moshe Ehrenreich and
Rabbi Yosef Carmel.
They announced the appointment of Rabbi Daniel Man to the position
of coordinator of the team to set up the beis din whose purpose,
among other things, is "to deal with problems stemming from the
wave of immigration of the past decade together with the Chief Rabbinate
Conversion Administration." The Chief Rabbinate announced that
it will approve the new beis din.
The Vaad expressed its amazement over the approval given by the Chief
Rabbinate to the Eretz Chemdah Institute and to its training course
that is co-sponsored by the Religious Affairs Ministry, the Internal
Affairs Ministry, and the Absorption Ministry. The major portion of
the course curriculum is devoted to the conversion issue.
The Vaad spokesman said that when preparations for the course were
being made some months ago, the coordinator on behalf of the Chief
Rabbinate promised the Vaad that an eminent av beis din, thoroughly
familiar with the problems of conversion according to halocho,
would lecture during the course. However, such a rav had yet to be
invited to lecture, even as the course began. Only with the intervention
of the Vaad did they invite several chareidi lecturers.
In addition, they still have not invited any experts in clarification
of an immigrant's Jewish identity to lecture in the course, although
this issue is of prime importance for anyone dealing with immigrants
from the C.I.S.
An examination of the content of the course as well as information
received from reliable sources indicates that the course's main objective
is to prepare a nationwide corps of communal coordinators whose function
will be simply to increase the number of "converts" among
the immigrants and to help them undergo the process as quickly as
A chareidi who applied to the course told our reporter that during
his interview, he understood clearly that the aim of the overall program
is primarily to increase significantly the number of "converts"
among the immigrants and not to guarantee the integrity of the conversion