Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

20 Ellul 5762 - August 28, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Joint Institutes Try to Send Conversion Candidates to Religious Schools
by Betzalel Kahn

The Directorate of the Chief Rabbinate's beis din is requesting of religious schools to accept children of students in the Joint Conversion Institutes, operated together with representatives of Conservative and Reform in Israel, since one of the demands placed on conversion candidates is a religious education for their children.

As the school year approaches and final enrollment lists are about to close, many principals received official requests from Rabbinate botei din and the Rabbinate's special conversion botei din operating in cooperation with the Joint Conversion Institutes. The requests read, "I hereby confirm that Mr./Mrs. _____ is currently taking part in the process of joining the Jewish people and is studying Judaism. According to the impression made upon me, s/he is serious in his/her intentions to convert and to observe Torah and mitzvos. One of the demands made on conversion candidates is religious schooling for their children, therefore I am asking that you look into the possibility of accepting this student at your school."

Based on this letter, principals believed these students were sincere conversion candidates, but instead discovered they were very far from serious in properly pursuing Judaism and that they had been studying at the Joint Institutes, which have been banned by all gedolei Yisroel past and present, as well as the Chief Rabbinical Council. Many candidates did not have a full commitment to Torah and mitzvos.

Principals who received the letter claim the Rabbinical Courts Administration was trying to mislead them into thinking the children were studying Judaism in Orthodox programs. To this day the Chief Rabbinate claims it does not recognize the Joint Institutes and that every case is evaluated on an individual basis when a conversion candidate appears at the beis din recognized by the Chief Rabbinate. Despite these repeated declarations, children whose parents have yet to appear at the beis din for any conversion proceedings are now being recommended by the beis din administration for acceptance at various schools.

The Vaad HaRabbonim LeInyonei Giyur founded by the late Chief Rabbi Chaim Kreiswirth says the Chief Rabbinate appears to be giving the Joint Institutes unprecedented official backing although the Chief Rabbinate itself bans it.

The Vaad chairman has asked school principals to refrain from accepting these students, saying their goal is to secure registration papers from Orthodox schools to "prove" the parents have sincere and earnest intentions as conversion candidates in order to allow special assembly-line conversion courts to process their conversion applications automatically.

In a related item, the Interior Ministry declared it has begun listing Reform and Conservative "converts" as Jews on identification cards and in the national registry in a response during a High Court appeal filed by Reform leaders. The appellants claimed the Interior Ministry was disregarding a previous High Court decision requiring the Ministry to list them as Jews.

Last week an eleven-man panel of judges ruled unanimously that the Ministry of the Interior was not in contempt of court after the State Prosecutor convinced them the Ministry was implementing the High Court decision.


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