Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

12 Nisan 5768 - April 17, 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Vaad HaRabbonim LeInyonei Giyur Warns Against IDF Conversions

By Yechiel Sever

The Vaad HaRabbonim Haolami LeInyonei Giyur founded by HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth zt"l, is warning against further decline in the conversion system in Eretz Yisroel after the mainstream media broadcast disturbing figures regarding the fictitious conversion industry under IDF auspices.

According to the new statistics, the army is currently performing 650 conversions annually, which amounts to ten times the number done in previous years. The conversions are done in cooperation with Netiv which is run by the Jewish Agency, and the study program is operated by the Joint Institute for Jewish Studies, which is run together with the Reform and Conservative movements. The entire conversion process is done in the army rather than in a religious setting, and takes only a few months.

One young woman who converted in the army had said before her conversion that the "rabbis" demanded a lot of her and she was unsure whether she will be able to meet the requirements, but she was converted without any problem.

According to Vaad HaRabbonim, an investigative report broadcast by the television news, apparently at the invitation of the institutions involved in the process, is indicative of efforts to market and advertise the possibility of accelerated, nonbinding conversions during army service in order to meet the army's goal of thousands of conversions annually, thereby taking over the role of the Conversion Authority.

Dayanim are highly critical of conversions performed by the current conversion system and the special conversion courts. Most of the staff involved are affiliated with the National- Religious camp, and feel that it is the responsibility of the State to actively convert the hundreds of thousands of non- Jews who came to Eretz Yisroel during the past 20 years. They believe the demographic problem can be solved through accelerated conversions, even though at least 90 percent of the so-called converts never have any intention of becoming fully observant, which renders the conversion invalid under all opinions. One observer commented, wryly, that by the same logic they could just convert all the Arabs and solve the conflict with the Palestinians and maybe all the problems of the Middle East.

Vaad HaRabbonim holds the Sephardic Chief Rabbinate largely responsible for backing the IDF conversions and issuing a conversion certificate as well as other documents that allow them to later marry at the Rabbinate, thereby bringing non- Jews into Kerem Beis Yisroel. The Vaad says that the Rabbinate must stop recognizing these conversions in order to put a halt to army conversions. The Vaad HaRabbonim says the IDF, which is overwhelmingly secular, is no place to set up a conversion program, which should remain solely in the hands of fixed, reputable botei din.

Letters currently being sent out to the rabbonim of major cities include a reminder to all marriage registrars that they have a legal and halachic right to reject conversions in cases where is appears that the convert did not sincerely take on Torah and mitzvas. These cases can be referred back to the regional beis din or the Chief Rabbinate's office.


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