The Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry's Conversion Administration performed 6,200 "conversions" last year, deliberately driving up the number by tens of percentage points, according to recently published data.
Meanwhile Rabbi Chaim Druckman, who heads the conversion apparatus, announced the launch of a new initiative to "convert" teens studying at youth villages. Vaad HaRabbonim LeInyonei Giyur is calling for the Conversion Administration and the special conversion botei din — whose sole aim is to boost the volume of conversion and win funding — to be shut down and that responsibility for conversion be restored to the hands of established, reputable botei din. The Vaad is also warning against Rabbi Druckman and his fictitious conversions at the youth villages.
"The 6,200 figure is two to three times higher than past figures," noted Vaad HaRabbonim in response to the alarming statistics. "This is cause for deep concern and leads to assimilation and the penetration of a large number of non-Jews directly into Kerem Beis Yisroel.
"The reality is that the vast majority of these so-called converts did not undertake Torah and mitzvas at the time of the conversion, which renders it invalid even after the fact. Furthermore, the special conversion botei din operated by the Conversion Administration work in full cooperation with the Joint Institutions, which are run by the Reform and Conservative movements. The Joint Institutions were banned by gedolei Yisroel as well as the Chief Rabbinate, making it hard to understand how the Chief Rabbinate lends its support and approval."
Vaad HaRabbonim also warned against Rabbi Druckman's plans at various youth villages. "These are apparently not religious youth villages, meaning that it is virtually impossible to effectively teach the candidates there how to keep Torah and mitzvas."
A recent article in the mainstream press revealed that Rabbi Druckman describes it as a process that lasts nearly a year, after which they are tested in a beis din. But the true conversion process is not merely a test of knowledge like in a college course, notes Vaad HaRabbonim, rather it is incumbent on the beis din to assess the earnestness of the candidate's intentions to keep Torah and mitzvas in practice. The existing conversion apparatus is based on a test of knowledge, failing to confirm the candidate's sincerity and placement in a milieu that allows proper mitzvah observance.
"The time has come to shut down the Conversion Administration once and for all," says Vaad HaRabbonim.