The Jewish Agency has made preparations to launch an
accelerated conversion program for non-Jews from the former
Soviet Union in Eastern Europe, according to an announcement
in Ha'aretz last week.
The report of these bolstered efforts to bring thousands of
goyim into Kerem Yisroel in the face of warnings issued by
maranan verabonon for years appears to herald the type
of destruction the new government intends to wreak by
attacking the Jewish character of the country.
A camp called Har Sinai is slated to open in an Eastern
European country to absorb immigrants on their way to Israel
and prepare them for conversion at Rabbinate botei din
to be set up onsite.
According to the report, "The conversion, which will be
Orthodox in every respect, will be performed by special
panels of rabbis that will be flown there from Israel. The
entire procedure is planned to last only four weeks.
Currently the shortest conversion program in Israel is six
months . . . Several rabbis of repute in the Orthodox
establishment in Israel agreed in principle to take part in
the campaign. At this stage the program is only planned to
accommodate 150-200 immigrants, but if successful it will
allow thousands of immigrants to convert."
Continues Ha'aretz, "The opening of the accelerated
conversion program is a far-reaching move by the Jewish
Agency that is intended to allow immigrants to sidestep the
bottleneck of the Rabbinate courts in Israel. Despite
increasing public pressure, Rabbinate courts have refused to
change their policy, and convert only a few hundred
immigrants from the former Soviet Union annually."
As proof that government heads in Israel intend to alter the
conversion procedure "to ease" the acclimatization of non-
Jewish immigrants, notes the newspaper, three central figures
have been working intensively to find a "solution" to the
problem: Jewish Agency Chairwoman Solly Meridor, Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon and Attorney Yaakov Ne'eman. According
to Ha'aretz, "Definitely the setup of the new
government and the appointment of MK Avraham Poraz of Shinui
as Interior Minister could greatly facilitate the
implementation of the program. The Jewish Agency estimates
that conversions can begin within a few months."
A top Jewish Agency official said, "The prediction that the
number of Arab citizens of Israel will double within 20 years
has been keeping me awake at night. We must realize if we
take into account that in addition to the Arabs there will be
several hundred thousand non-Jews here, within a few years
the Jews will turn into a small minority of the country."
The newspaper added, "The idea of conversion abroad under
Israeli sanction was already tried during the massive first
wave of immigration from the Soviet Union in the 1970s.
Orthodox rabbis were sent to Vienna to perform conversions,
but this effort was only partially successful because some of
the rabbis were not considered qualified by the Orthodox
establishment and the conversions they performed were not
recognized. Therefore this time the Jewish Agency has decided
to work "in cooperation with rabbis whose authority is not
questioned," notes Ha'aretz, adding that "at this
stage the identity of the rabbis has been kept secret due to
concerns the Chief Rabbinate might apply pressure on
However, according to statements by Chief Rabbinate and
Jewish Agency figures last week, those selected are from the
special conversion beis din in Or Etzion headed by
former Mafdal MK Rabbi Chaim Druckman and former Ramat Gan
Chief Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, who is associated with the Mafdal;
the latter recently announced his intention to vie for the
post of Chief Rabbi of Israel in elections scheduled to be
held in another few weeks. In a radio interview on March 10
Rabbi Druckman denied having been approached by the Jewish
Agency on any such plan.
In an interview he granted to Ma'ariv a few weeks ago
Rabbi Ariel said, "More specialized conversion botei
din should be set up. More work should be done among the
[new] immigrants to persuade them to convert." Yet last week
he stated, "I did not get involved and I cannot get involved
because I am not engaged in this matter."
Rabbi Druckman has been involved in fraudulent conversions
abroad for years. The acting head of Druckman's beis
din, Rabbi Yosef Avior, has traveled to numerous
countries over the last five years to perform "conversions"
despite opposition by local rabbonim. The Israel Chief
Rabbinate has taken no steps to halt his activities.
The Jewish Agency's new move--backed by Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon and his associate Yaakov Ne'eman--has stirred
widespread anger. A top-ranking Chief Rabbinate source told
Yated Ne'eman last week that the program poses a major
threat since it is designed to circumvent the Chief
Rabbinate, which has the exclusive legal sanction to perform
and approve conversions in Israel. Essentially the government
intends to strip the Rabbinate of its authority and to bring
hundreds of thousands of goyim into the Jewish people, he
The Vaad HaRabbonim Haolami LeInyonei Giyur, founded by the
late Rav Chaim Kreiswirth, says that two months ago
negotiations took place with officials in the former Soviet
Union in order to "export" rabbis to perform conversions.
"These rabbis are associated with the specialized conversion
botei din, which are known for not adhering to
halocho, instead employing a conveyor-belt system based on
knowledge alone without inquiring into whether the candidate
genuinely intends to keep Torah and mitzvos," said the
As early as one year ago the Jewish Agency, in conjunction
with the Special Conversion Courts, sent a delegation of
rabbonim involved in large-scale conversions to South America
and now a similar delegation is slated to travel to India.
The Vaad spokesman added that the Rabbinate's conversion
system is controlled by members of NRP and that established
botei din have almost entirely ceased handling
conversions. A candidate who contacts the secretariat at
established local botei din to open a conversion file
is typically refused and referred to the specialized
conversion botei din.
"According to the law the person in charge of the specialized
conversion botei din is supposed to be the Community
Head, which in this case is the Chief Rabbi. Two years ago he
transferred authority for the conversion system to Rabbinical
Courts Director-General Eli Ben-Dahan, who acts on his own
accord, while the Chief Rabbi absolves himself of
responsibility for whatever takes place in the conversion
system . . . [Ben-Dahan] openly collaborates with the
[Reform] Joint Conversion Program, which was set up following
a recommendation by the Ne'eman Committee, despite the fact
that maranan verabonon gedolei Yisroel, and the Chief
Rabbinate Council as well, prohibited all cooperation with
"The Vaad HaRabbonim calls on the chief rabbis to stand firm
and ensure that at the least the Chief Rabbinate conversion
system converts only candidates who were thoroughly reviewed
to determine whether they indeed want to keep Torah and
mitzvos . . . Orthodox Jews everywhere will not recognize the
conversions under the Jewish Agency's new program, although
an outwardly Orthodox rabbinical certificate will be issued.
The time has come for only rabbonim with yiras
Shomayim to get involved in matters of conversion, and
for Yaakov Ne'eman and his cohorts to stop dealing with
halachic issues while showing derision for halocho,
disregarding the rabbonim and collaborating with [Reform]