Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

29 Adar 5762 - March 13, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Vaad Warns of False Orthodox Conversions
by Betzalel Kahn

The Vaad HaRabbonim LeInyonei Giyur, founded by the late HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth, av beis din of Antwerp, warned against the danger of bringing thousands of goyim into kerem Beis Yisroel through fictitious conversions performed by the Chief Rabbinate.

In an interview last week MK Shaul Yahalom (Mafdal) confirmed that specialized conversion botei din operate in full cooperation with the Reform- and Conservative-run Joint Conversion Institutes, saying "hundreds have already been converted by the . . . network of botei din set up by the Chief Rabbinate."

The Vaad has been warning about this problem for several months and this collaboration was originally uncovered in an investigative report published by Yated Ne'eman six months ago. Now it has been confirmed by a third party.

According to the Vaad these botei din operate in clear contradiction to the decision issued by the Chief Rabbinical Council four years ago that states: "No one should contemplate setting up a joint institution with them and gedolei Yisroel have prohibited any and all collaboration with them and their approach."

Nevertheless, specialized conversion courts continue to operate in full cooperation with the Joint Institutes, a fact the Chief Rabbinate itself does not deny, but which many tried to hide until Yahalom made a public statement to the media.

The Vaad spokesman said the lack of seriousness that prevails in these botei din is manifest not only in the conversions they perform for students who study kefirah at the Joint Institutions, but in all other areas of giyur as well. The majority of those who undergo conversions there do not observe Torah and mitzvos as required, which disqualifies these conversions even bedi'eved, yet somehow they receive the unqualified approval of the Chief Rabbinate. According to Rabbinical Courts Director-General Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan the number of conversions performed in Israel in 2001 was 2,600. Due to the large wave of non-Jewish aliyah, the number of false giyurim has been rising steadily every year.

The Vaad is calling on the Chief Rabbinate, which has an interest in legislation granting it exclusive control over Orthodox conversions, to tighten their standards and to establish a conversion system worthy of performing Orthodox conversions according to halocho.

The Vaad wants to emphasize that a false conversion performed by an Orthodox rabbi or beis din is no better for Klal Yisroel than a false conversion performed by the Conservative or Reform. In all likelihood it is worse because it is much more likely to be mistaken for a valid conversion, thus allowing non-Jews to assimilate into the Jewish people.

Someone who has gone through a ceremony under the auspices of an Orthodox rabbi of beis din without a sincere acceptance of Torah and mitzvos is no more Jewish than someone who has gone through a ceremony under the auspices of the Conservative and Reform.


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