Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

5 Iyar 5759 - April 21, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly







The Conversion Administration Has Six Special Courts

by Betzalel Kahn

A secret document of the Chief Rabbinate was forwarded to the editorial board of Yated Ne'eman via a prominent dayan in the rabbinical court system. It discloses that six special conversion courts under the aegis of the Conversion Administration are currently functioning throughout the country, and more than 30 dayanim are involved in the conversions it conducts.

As specified in the instructions issued on the 28th of Iyar 5758 by the Chief Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau, the Rabbinate recognizes only conversions conducted in courts with approved formations, and which include at least one dayan certified by the Rabbinate.

The list of the country's dayanim shows clearly that most of those involved in conversions on behalf of the Conversion Administration are affiliated with the national religious camp.

Last month, Yated Ne'eman reported on Rabbi Chaim Druckman's conversion of a minor who appealed to the High Court to recognize his Conservative conversion. The media reported that the court which converted the child included Rabbis Druckman, Kfir and Avior. However, according to the Rabbinate's document obtained by the Yated, Rabbi Druckman's court does not the criteria for recognition, and that is why the Rabbinate refused to approve the conversion.

Those involved in the case are checking the still unverified reports that even though Chief Rabbi Lau's office did not approve the conversion, a senior official in the Rabbinate, who currently is not responsible for conversion issues, approved the conversion even though it did not in fact meet the standards.

Prominent dayanim stressed that the decision made at last year's convention of dayanim was not changed at this year's convention. This decision states that, "It is unthinkable to enable conversions to take place in frameworks other than the rabbinical courts." This decision was made as a result of the existence of various courts which conduct "quickie conversions" in an assembly-line manner, without investigating the true intentions of the candidate.

On the other hand, there is no opposition to establishing special rabbinical courts, comprised of talmidei chachomim and yirei Shomayim, who have access to the means for investigating and examining the intentions of a conversion candidate in a thorough manner. As maranan verabonon of all times have stressed, before accepting a convert into the Jewish faith, the dayan must be absolutely certain of the convert's intention to fully accept the yoke of Torah and mitzvah observance. Conversion without the acceptance of Torah and mitzvos is not conversion, even bedi'eved.

Senior dayanim praised the efforts of Chief Rabbi Lau to strengthen the frameworks of the rabbinical courts involved in conversions, and his initiative to certify only those rabbinical courts which meet all of the halachic and practical demands.

At this opportunity, the Vaad HaRabbonim Haolami LeInyonei Giyur headed by HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth of Antwerp, reissues an earlier warning against conversion institutions that are not directed by proper rabbinical authority, specifically the conversion institutes opened in Carmiel with the participation of Reform and Conservative. The Vaad spokesman wishes to make clear that the conversion institutes only prepare candidates for conversion, while the actual conversion has to be conducted by an approved rabbinical court. The rabbinical courts will only accept candidates who are sincerely willing to accept all Torah and mitzvos. Candidates prepared by Reform and Conservative, who themselves do not believe in Torah miSinai, are unlikely to meet these criteria.

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