Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

24 Cheshvan 5761 - November 22, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Jewish Agency Proposes Quickie Conversions
by B. Kahn

The Jewish Agency's Institute for Jewish Studies, which employs teachers from heretical movements, has recently offered non-Jewish Russian immigrants the opportunity to "enrich their knowledge of Judaism and Jewish culture."

"Those of its graduates who are interested in conversion will be referred to the special conversion courts without the need for undergoing additional procedures," according to the brochure published by the Institute.

The implication is that the special conversion courts are supposed to accept every conversion candidate without investigating actual knowledge and the true motives.

The special conversion court system has denied these assertions.

Recently, the Institute circulated a brochure in Hebrew and Russian, for non-Jews who seek to undergo "accelerated conversions." The brochures, which are distributed in community centers throughout the country, are part of a plan to open 100 conversion ulpans. Their goal is to "convert" 20,000 non-Jews a year.

In the brochure, the heads of the Institute offer classes in Judaism and Jewish culture for students of all ages, during their free time, and in their mother tongue. The brochure says: "The curriculum offers both in-depth study of Jewish heritage and culture, as well as popular classes which appeal to all types of students."

But the brochure also admits that the course of study includes information about heretical movements.

"The Institute is unique in that it offers lectures with varied and pluralistic approaches, while at the same time presenting a unified and joint program," the brochure states. "This program presents Judaism with all of its many interpretations and conceptions, highlighting Jewish creativity throughout all times, as well as our contemporary streams. All this is offered within the framework of classes, deliberations and symposiums."

Asher Raviv, the director of the special conversion courts, told Yated Ne'eman that the information presented in the brochure of the joint institute of the Jewish Agency is incorrect. However, he refused to issue a written statement protesting what he called the false promises in the Institute's brochure.

"There is no collaboration between the Institute and the court. They also don't refer conversion candidates to us. However, the moment someone has graduated the ulpan, dayanim can accept him according to the guidelines of the Rabbinate. These dayanim then judge each case separately, and are not obligated to convert him."

The Vaad HaRabbonim Haolami LeInyonei Giyur headed by HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth of Antwerp commented, "It is well known that the graduates of the joint institute have already undergone conversions in the special court of Rabbi Chaim Druckman and Rabbi Avior in Or Etzion.

"A year ago the two publicized that they had decided to adopt the joint ulpanim. The `converts' even received conversion certificates from the administration of the courts, signed by Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan."

"There is no doubt that there is full collaboration between some of the special conversion courts and the joint institutes," the Vaad went on to say. "The denial of the director of the special conversion courts, Asher Raviv, is only a declaration. However, to our dismay, this declaration is not compatible with the facts and reality, which are totally different," the Vaad's spokesman said.

"If the conversion court system stands behind their statements that there is no special cooperation with the joint conversion institute, and that the graduates' application will not automatically be accepted by the conversion courts, then it is their obligation to publicly clarify this matter and not to allow the joint conversion institutes to mislead the Russian olim with false hopes."


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