Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

29 Kislev 5760 - December 8, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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New Conversion Court and Course are No Solution

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

The Vaad HaRabbonim Haolami LeInyonei Giyur headed by HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth recently condemned the activities of the Eretz Chemdah Institute, which intends to set up conversion botei din to "solve the problems" of non- Jewish immigrants arriving from the C.I.S.

The Vaad's protest came in the wake of an official announcement by Eretz Chemdah and its executive director Shalom Wasserteil, and the heads of the Institute's kollel, Rabbi Moshe Ehrenreich and Rabbi Yosef Carmel.

They announced the appointment of Rabbi Daniel Man to the position of coordinator of the team to set up the beis din whose purpose, among other things, is "to deal with problems stemming from the wave of immigration of the past decade together with the Chief Rabbinate Conversion Administration." The Chief Rabbinate announced that it will approve the new beis din.

The Vaad expressed its amazement over the approval given by the Chief Rabbinate to the Eretz Chemdah Institute and to its training course that is co-sponsored by the Religious Affairs Ministry, the Internal Affairs Ministry, and the Absorption Ministry. The major portion of the course curriculum is devoted to the conversion issue.

The Vaad spokesman said that when preparations for the course were being made some months ago, the coordinator on behalf of the Chief Rabbinate promised the Vaad that an eminent av beis din, thoroughly familiar with the problems of conversion according to halocho, would lecture during the course. However, such a rav had yet to be invited to lecture, even as the course began. Only with the intervention of the Vaad did they invite several chareidi lecturers.

In addition, they still have not invited any experts in clarification of an immigrant's Jewish identity to lecture in the course, although this issue is of prime importance for anyone dealing with immigrants from the C.I.S.

An examination of the content of the course as well as information received from reliable sources indicates that the course's main objective is to prepare a nationwide corps of communal coordinators whose function will be simply to increase the number of "converts" among the immigrants and to help them undergo the process as quickly as possible.

A chareidi who applied to the course told our reporter that during his interview, he understood clearly that the aim of the overall program is primarily to increase significantly the number of "converts" among the immigrants and not to guarantee the integrity of the conversion process.

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