The Rabbinical Conference for Correct Conversion and the
Prevention of Intermarriage of the Lillian Jean Kaplan
Jewish Pride Through Education Project opened at the
Metzudat David Hotel in Jerusalem on Monday this week. The
three-day event was graced by the presence of gedolei
Yisroel, prominent rabbonim who came to address the
hundreds of rabbonim in attendance, and dayonim and marriage
registrars and hundreds of other participants.
The rabbonim gathered in Jerusalem to put an end to the
pressure on dayonim to issue conversion certificates to non-
Jews who have no intention of keeping Torah and mitzvos.
HaRav Simchah HaKohen Kook, the rov of Rechovot, HaRav
Shmuel Eliezer Stern, a dayan at HaRav Wosner's
beis din and author of Geirus Kehalochoh, and
Rav Nachum Eisenstein, chairman of the Vaad HaRabbonim
Haolami LeInyonei Giyur founded by HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth
zt"l, have been hard at work seeking ways to raise
public consciousness and make all dayanim aware of the
seriousness of bringing goyim into Am Yisroel
disguised as converts.
In recent months the American organization Horizons, headed
by HaRav Reuven Feinstein and HaRav Leib Tropper, started a
project called Eternal Jewish Family (Netzach Mishpachas
Yisroel) in America, whose success led to a similar project
in Israel. As an initial step it was decided to organize
several conferences at different locations around the world
of which this week's Rabbinical Conference, which has the
blessings of maranan verabonon, is the third.
During a session held on Monday, figures on the gravity of
the current situation were revealed and halachic discussions
were held on the issue of marriage registration at botei
din in Eretz Yisroel.
The opening session was held on Sunday at the home of Maran
HaRav Eliashiv shlita and attended by a delegation of
rabbonim from the conference, including HaRav Reuven
Feinstein, HaRav Simchah HaKohen Kook, HaRav Leib Tropper
and HaRav Nachum Eisenstein.
Maran told them to strongly protest the special conversion
system operating in Israel. "Today there are very few
converts who are really geirei tzedek. They can and
will find their way. The large conversion system set up in
Israel is therefore unnecessary and there is thus an immense
obligation to raise awareness and to make every possible
effort to stop the terrible breaches in this matter," he
said. "Every Jew knows there are certain mitzvos that are
hard to fulfill. Is the potential convert aware of the
obligations he faces and how hard it is to uphold the
demands of the Torah and halochoh? There is no place for a
conversion system and special conversion courts or various
institutes whose only goal is to persuade goyim to convert.
This kind of thinking must be uprooted."
Jerusalem City Councilman Rabbi Shlomo Rosenstein led the
opening session at the Metzudat David Hotel on Monday
afternoon which began with the recitation of Tehillim
led by HaRav Eliyohu Schlesinger, the rov of Jerusalem's
HaRav Leib Tropper said that the goal of the conference was
to remedy the bleak state of conversion, stressing the need
to clarify who is worthy of sitting on the bench of a
beis din involved in conversions. He quoted HaRav
Eliashiv's assertion that in Eretz Yisroel conversion has
reached a state of real "hefkeirus," even though in
truth a non- Jew can be accepted for conversion only if he
turns into a real eved Hashem al pi Torah.
Attorney R' Marvin Jacob of the US said that the current
state of conversion is unprecedented and noted that rabbonim
from every group had arrived to deal with the painful
problem. He then asked HaRav Reuven Feinstein, rosh yeshiva
of Yeshivas Staten Island, to address the conference.
HaRav Feinstein said there are two types of converts, those
who convert for Hashem's sake and those who don't. He went
on to say that a genuine ger is like a newborn child.
HaKodosh Boruch Hu gives even a murderer a chance to
be a ger tzedek, taking away his bad middos.
He spoke about conversion problems in both Eretz Yisroel
and the US, where non-Jews get mixed into the Jewish
community because the father has a Jewish name and their
conversion is accepted. Absurdly often the "convert" begins
to take a greater interest in Yiddishkeit and wants
to study Torah, said HaRav Feinstein, expanding on the
problems that emerge.
He noted that in Israel there is another problem of goyim
who seek to convert for financial reasons, saying the
government embraces new immigrants and soldiers. He also
stressed the need and importance of distinguishing the real
geirim. The gemora says that if one does not
treat almonos and yesomim properly he will
experience their pain himself chas vesholom. This
certainly applies to the geirim who are also
sensitive. Thus it is vitally important to distinguish the
true geirim as well as to reject the others.
R' Thomas Kaplan, chairman of the Lillian Jean Kaplan
Foundation — Horizons, said the family was prepared to
support the worldwide campaign against false conversion. R'
Kaplan spoke about how the initiative began, with a casual
conversion after a study session about providing a solution
for those who want to convert through a process that will be
recognized by all sectors of the Jewish world in America and
Eretz Yisroel as well.
Mr. Kaplan pledged, in the name of his family, that they
will provide the necessary resources to do what they can to
confront and overcome the issue of intermarriage in the
proper manner. They aim to promulgate a process with clear
rules and well-defined steps that will allow for all those
who want to "throw their lot in with our people," to do
With the enemies faced by the Jewish people — Hamas,
Hizbullah, Iran, and more — who would want to join our
people? "Is it not a miracle" that people want to join us?
he declared. "Our reward will be the absolute reward that
comes from doing well, in this world and the next."
Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar praised the Kaplan family and
discussed the proposed amendment to the Conversion Law. He
also noted that every year 120 Jewish girls convert to
Islam, a matter which should also be addressed. Following
his speech a tefilloh was held for the safety of all
residents of Eretz Hakodesh.
Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger recommended that rabbonim and
dayonim pay careful attention to several points before
accepting a conversion candidate: prior personal
recommendation from someone very familiar with the
candidate; not to open a file on a candidate already being
handled by another beis din; to have a conversion
candidate live for at least a year in the home of an
observant family; and to interview the applicant in the
presence of a full beis din, and to write out a
complete record of the interview and to open it to public
The first day's session ended with Minchah, followed
by a comprehensive shiur given by Rav Herschel
Schachter via satellite, on conversion and related matters,
with an extended survey of the various approaches presented
by the poskim. After the shiur HaRav Ovadia
Yosef addressed the conference, encouraging the rabbonim to
stand firm in preserving Jewry and preventing non-halachic
Monday evening's session was led by Rabbi Binyomin Cohen,
director of the Jerusalem Municipality's Department of
HaRav Simchah HaKohen Kook, the rov of Rechovot, spoke at
that session. Discussing kabolas mitzvos, he quoted
the Rambam who says that if a non-Jew accepts the mitzvos,
then he is a Jew for all purposes. He does not mention
milah, nor tevilloh — just accepting the
yoke of mitzvos.
HaRav Shmuel Eliezer Stern, a rov and dayan on the
beis din of HaRav Shmuel Halevi Wosner of Bnei Brak,
said that all groups came together to the conference, to
strengthen the holy subject of distinguishing between sacred
and profane, between Yisroel and the other peoples. He
emphasized the sanctity and the importance of this
HaRav Nochum Eisenstein spoke to the conference detailing
the message of Maran HaRav Eliashiv shlita. He said
that HaRav Eliashiv went out of his way to express his
support for the conference. HaRav Eliashiv asked that the
conference concentrate on the need to completely uproot the
invalid conversion system. HaRav Eisenstein asked the Rov if
in these terribly difficult days the conference should be
postponed. Perhaps those who attend would serve better by
spending their time in the beis medrash to multiply
the merits of Klal Yisroel? But maranan verabonon
said that even in these times when we are threatened from
the outside on the North and the South, we must also meet
the threat that comes from within.
Maran stressed that there is no need for a dedicated
conversion system. The individual good geirim will
find their places for a proper conversion. But the focus of
the conference is to accomplish a sur meira, to
uproot that which needs uprooting.
HaRav Yosef Sheinin, rov of Ashdod, chaired a late-night
panel on confronting the problems of marriage registry.
Participants included Rav Dani Antebbi, Rav Yaakov Meir
Alter, Rav Yechiel Yabrov, Rav Yehuda Landa, Rav Avrohom
Yeshayohu Smotani and Rav Yigal Krispel.
Conference organizers said the kashrus arrangements at the
hotel were supervised by Badatz Mehadrin which is headed by
HaRav S. Kook and HaRav Avrohom Rubin. The entire hotel was
placed under the supervision of the Badatz Mehadrin for the
duration of the Conference and a special three-day kashrus
certificate was issued to cover the event.