Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

13 Elul 5759 - August 25, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Be on Guard

by Rabbi Nochum Eisenstein

I am reminded of the posuk we read in parshas Shofetim -- Ki yimotzei bekirbechoh be'achad she'orechoh asher Hashem elokechoh nosein lecho, ish oh isho asher ya'aseh es hora be'einei Hashem elokecho la'avor beriso. This posuk refers to avoda zorah. The message I want to emphasize from the posuk is ki yimotzei bekirbechoh -- that we must be on guard against the internal (bekirbechoh) enemies that the Torah obligates us to eradicate.

Several months ago I wrote a series of articles against the Conservative and Reform. The main thrust of the articles was the fact that even though Orthodox Jewry officially knows the great danger from the heretic groups, there is still cooperation between so-called "Orthodox" groups and individuals connected with the Conservative and Reform.

Since the Conservative and Reform did not realize their expectations from the new Barak government they have gone underground and are waiting on the sidelines for the next showdown.

In this article I want to discuss some of our hidden internal enemies against whom we must be constantly on guard.

A recent incident in Denver demonstrates my concern all too well. A couple known as Nathan and Temima became an integral part of all aspects of the Denver Orthodox Jewish community. However, it was eventually revealed that Nathan and Temima weren't Jewish, but in fact were missionaries -- members of a Christian congregation in Fort Collins, Colorado. These missionaries wanted to infiltrate the Orthodox Jewish community so that they would appear to be Jewish.

Fortunately Nathan and Temima were exposed right before they attempted to move to Israel under the auspices of the Jewish Agency Aliya office. Once they were exposed, the Aliya office canceled their right to become Israeli citizens under the Law of Return.

While this story is shocking, it is not unusual. According to a recent newsletter published in Baltimore by Jews for Judaism, many similar stories of deception by Christian missionaries to infiltrate "Orthodox" circles exist. These people usually undergo a conversion to make themselves look Jewish. One of the main problems that botei din legiyur must deal with, is making sure that the candidates are not disguised missionaries. The newly established beis din in Tel Aviv, for example, consults with experts in the field of missionaries if any suspicion arises.

This is the story in short. What do I want to add? Mainly the fact that one who "converted" Nathan and Temima was Nathan Lerer. Lerer operates a Jewish conversion center in Denver called Sha'arei Tzedek, and it was clearly exposed in public about ten years ago that the center is a farce.

At that time Lerer used forged documents which attested to the fact that he is authorized by the: 1) Israeli Chief Rabbinate; 2) The Israeli Foreign Ministry; 3) the Vaad HaRabbonim Haolami LeInyonei Giyur headed by HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth of Antwerp.

At that time the Vaad arranged for official letters from the abovementioned offices stating that Lerer had forged the documents and is in fact not even recognized as a rabbi and certainly not to perform conversions. The Vaad felt that we were required to do something, so the following public warning was prepared:

Public Warning

About conversions performed by Nathan Aron Lerer of Sha'arei Tzedek

The Vaad has in its possession documents from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Israel Aliya Center which clearly indicate that the aforementioned Nathan Aron Lerer is not listed in any rabbinical registry. Documents supposedly issued by the Consulate General of Israel in New York stating that he is an Orthodox Rabbi in Israel are a forgery. He is not recognized by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.

It should therefore be known that in all likelihood conversion certificates bearing his name will not be accepted by the Israeli government and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.

At this opportunity we would like to inform potential conversion candidates that only conversions performed by recognized Orthodox Rabbis that are coupled with a complete and sincere acceptance of all the mitzvos of the Torah will be recognized by the Israeli Rabbinate. In the case of conversions performed on minors, the family rearing the minors must insure a proper Orthodox Jewish education. Conversions performed by Orthodox Rabbis that fail to meet the above standards are not recognized.

To our great disappointment Lerer is still in business today, many years later. Thus, the incident of Nathan and Temima could happen.

If we had been on guard against our internal enemy, we may have been able to prevent the Nathan and Temima episode.

As I conclude I am reminded of another posuk in the parsha: Tomim tihiye im Hashem. The Chofetz Chaim explains that we must be tomim only with Hashem. When we deal with people, we must be cunning and careful.

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