Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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9 Tammuz 5760 - July 12, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Scandal Surrounds Conversion of Minors

by B. Kahn

The special conversion court in Gush Etzion headed by headed by Rabbi Chaim Druckman and his assistant Rabbi Yosef Avior has rubber-stamped the bogus conversions of hundreds minors brought into the country for adoption.

The Vaad HaRabbonim Haolami L'Inyonei Giyur has stressed that the religious establishment Rabbi Druckman's "special conversion court" totally defies the guidelines of the Chief Rabbinate and halocho.

In nearly all cases, the children are being "converted" for the sake of adoption by a non-religious family, thus rendering the whole process null and void.

The disclusure follows a declaration presented to the High Court by Ella Blass, director of the Children's Service at the Ministry of Welfare and Labor.

"This court acts to provide an answer to the needs of the children and families in a very sensitive and humane manner," the declaration claims. "[It] considers the needs of the broad spectrum of the Israeli population." The declaration does not include a single mention of the need to conduct conversions according to halocho.

The Children's Service also acts as a liaison between the special court and those who wish to convert their non-Jewish adopted children. Information about the court is also given to non-profit organizations so they can transmit it to adoptive parents. In just two years since the national Adoption Law was amended, some 400 adopted children have brought into Israel by means of recognized non-profit organizations.

"To the best of my knowledge, since the implementation of the Rabbi Druckman recommendations, the court has converted many of these adopted children" Blass's declaration notes.

In response, the Vaad HaRabbonim Haolami L'Inyonei Giyur declared that "Rabbi Druckman's conversion court constitutes a tremendous scandal, allowing non-Jews to become part of the Jewish Nation. In the absence of a guarantee that the children will be raised to observe Torah and mitzvos seriously, this court has no authority to convert minors."

A letter sent by the Chief Rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron on the 15th of Teves, 5758, explicitly stated: "No change has been made in the position of the Chief Rabbinate in all that pertains to the conversion of minors" (which according to the halocho must be accompanied by kabbolos mitzvos and leading of a religious lifestyle, etc.).

Permanent and prominent battei din seldom handle the conversions of minors, except in rare cases, and only when a Torah-observant family that has adopted a child is involved. This is so because the conversion of a child who is raised in a non-religious family, where he won't be trained to observe mitzvos on a steady basis, is not valid, and the beis din is not authorized to convert a child adopted by a secular family.

Rabbi Druckman's activities are well known. However, the Chief Rabbinate has done nothing to stop these conversions, and even approves them, despite the above-mentioned letter. Apparently, there are powerful elements in the Chief Rabbinate who claim that it is possible to rely on Rabbi Druckman and that his conversions comply with the guidelines of the Chief Rabbinate.

Three months ago, a committee on behalf of the Council of the Chief Rabbinate, was appointed. This committee is headed by council member HaRav Simcha HaCohen Kook, the Chief Rabbi of Rechovot, and its purpose is to examine the mode of operation of the special conversion courts.

This committee is examining, among other things, the nature of the families whose adopted children have been converted by the special conversion courts.

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