Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

11 Sivan 5762 - May 22, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Orthodox Conversion Poses Greater Threat than Conservative Conversions
by Betzalel Kahn

Following the High Court decision to register fictitious converts and the Chief Rabbinate's efforts to monopolize religious services in Israel, particularly conversion, the Vaad HaRabbonim LeInyonei Giyur founded by the late HaRav Kreiswirth is reminding the public of a letter written by the Brisker Rov in 5716 (1956): "The Conservatives' evil ways are already apparent and well known to all. Though much like their fellow heretics in the Reform Movement, they pose a greater danger because they are more involved in religious affairs and are more likely to mislead amei ho'oretz, who do not know their right from their left."

In recent years the Chief Rabbinate of Israel has opened a network of specialized conversion botei din that perform wholesale conversions without confirming whether the candidate has earnest intentions to observe Torah and mitzvos. Such conversions have the same status as Conservative and Reform "conversions," according to the gedolei haposkim, but since they are labeled "Orthodox" they actually pose a greater threat.

Ironically the rabbonim responsible for these assembly-line conversions denounce the Reform and Conservative movements, but continue to work in cooperation with them. There are 4,500 students enrolled in 254 classes operating under the Joint Conversion Institute sponsored by the Jewish Agency and that include Conservative and Reform representatives. Although banned by maranan verabonon the Israeli Chief Rabbinical Council, the Israeli Chief Rabbinate has joined forces with them and the specialized conversion botei din work with them in close cooperation.

In an announcement published recently in the Mafdal daily Hatsofe, Rabbi Chaim Druckman, one of the forerunners of the Joint Institutes, says he continues to work with them and claims he has the support of certain rabbonim--although rabbonim from across the spectrum prohibit the Joint Institutes outright. Botei din that convert Joint Institutes candidates based on knowledge of Judaism alone, without attention to intention to observe Judaism, receive all of the necessary certificates and documentation from the Israeli Chief Rabbinate and the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

The Vaad warns that the battle against conversions performed in specialized conversion botei din must continue unabated since most of the "converts" never make any commitment to Torah and mitzvos, rendering the conversion as invalid as Conservative conversions, even bedi'eved.

The Vaad says it has data indicating the Conservatives perform less than 100 "conversions" per year while the specialized botei din perform over 2,000 fake conversions per year, the vast majority of which have no halachic value whatsoever, although they claim to be done in accordance with halochoh. The Vaad says the battle should be waged over both the quality and the quantity of these conversions.

Despite media reports that the IDF Rabbinate plans to perform large-scale conversions for every soldier who requests to convert, the Vaad notes that at present no more than a few hundred conversions are performed annually. This also poses a potential threat since these conversions are officially recognized by the Chief Rabbinate and the Religious Affairs Ministry.

According to the Vaad spokesman maranan verabonon say the military conversion system should by dismantled and the conversion process--from the preparation through the final conversion process--should vested only with established botei din composed by talmidei chachomim with yiras Shomayim.


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