Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

15 Iyar 5767 - May 3, 2007 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Vaad HaRabbonim LeInyonei Giyur Warns Against Disinformation in Media Reports

By Betzalel Kahn

Vaad HaRabbonim LeInyonei Giyur, founded by the late Gavad of Antwerp, HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth, has issued a statement clearly warning the public not to rely on any mainstream media reports related to the conversion issue.

The statement follows misleading reports that have been widely disseminated, making their way into the mainstream media outside of Israel and even into the Wall Street Journal.

In recent months a debate on conversion has been raging in the mainstream media. The Joint Conversion Institute, a Reform- and Conservative backed organization in Israel that received a government franchise to prepare so-called conversion candidates based on the recommendations of the Ne'eman Committee, claims that the Israeli Chief Rabbinate's special conversion courts are too stringent with the candidates appearing before them. Officials at the Conversion Authority, which oversees the courts, claim that all of their practices are in accordance with halacha.

Vaad HaRabbonim maintains the media is not the proper place to hold a debate on the issue, which should remain exclusively in the hands of prominent, fixed botei din and each conversion case should be considered on an individual basis. A Vaad spokesman said that he cannot fathom how the conversion botei din under the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate could cooperate at all with the Joint Conversion Institute, which was banned outright by all gedolei Yisroel in 5758 (1998) and also by the Chief Rabbinate Council.

"Unfortunately the special conversion courts operate according to a conveyor-belt system, approving conversions without thoroughly inquiring into the ger's intentions, whether he is genuinely prepared to accept the yoke of Torah and mitzvas in its entirety," said a Vaad HaRabbonim spokesman, adding that the Vaad has corroborated figures indicating that over 90 percent of the converts at the conversion courts do not intend to keep Torah and mitzvas properly, which invalidates the giyur even bedi'eved. These "converts" are nonetheless officially recognized by the Chief Rabbinate.

The Vaad also relates that at present there is no approved bench made up of dayonim talmidei chachomim veyirei Shomayim, despite the Wall Street Journal's claim that many of the conversion dayanim are ultra-Orthodox. Rabbi Yisrael Rozen, one of the conversion dayonim, also recently claimed, "Almost all rabbis in Israel recognize [their] conversions and allow them to marry [as Jews]."

However, according to longstanding instructions by Maran HaRav Eliashiv shlita, conversions performed by the special conversion courts should not be recognized.

The Vaad HaRabbonim is calling on all parties to stop exploiting the media in Israel and abroad as a means of applying pressure to increase the number of false conversions, and is calling on the Chief Rabbinate to put a stop to the failures of the conversion system, instead setting up a botei din system comprised of talmidei chachomim yirei Shomayim who would convert a very small number of solid candidates. At present none of the botei din handling conversion with Chief Rabbinate approval is accepted by the chareidi public.

The Vaad is also calling on all rabbonim, dayonim and institution heads to conduct inquiries into the kashrus of any convert who appears before them, not recognizing converts — and certainly not permitting them to marry — until they are thoroughly convinced that the converts genuinely intend to keep Torah and mitzvas in full.


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