Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

13 Kislev 5762 - November 28, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Further Declines in Conversion Process in Israel: Reform and Conservative Movements Could Take Over Soon
by Betzalel Kahn

The independent Orthodox conversion system is facing collapse due to a lack of funds from the Education Ministry, and the conversion system of Israel faces the threat of a takeover by the Joint Conversion Institutes which include representatives of the Conservative and Reform movements.

Last week Deputy Education Minister Meshulam Nahari announced during a meeting of the Knesset plenum that the Orthodox conversion institutes would cease operating programs at the beginning of the year 2002 due to the lack of NIS 10 million ($2.4 million) that the Finance Ministry has so far failed to transfer to the Education Ministry. The announcement followed warnings issued six months ago by the Vaad HaRabbonim LeInyonei Giyur headed by HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth shlita, av beis din in Antwerp, that the Orthodox institutes would soon be forced to cease operations due to budgetary shortfalls.

Throughout the year the Vaad has been warning about the government plans to fund the conversion institutes only via the Jewish Agency, which will fund only the Joint Conversion Institutes run with the heretics of the Conservative and Reform movements. NIS 6 million ($1.5 million) has so far been given to the Jewish Agency for this purpose. Until now the Orthodox institutes received nominal funding through the Education Ministry, but even this funding is about to be discontinued.

Although the Vaad has always issued warnings that even the Orthodox institutes perform superficial, "assembly line" conversions and that many of the converts never had any intention of observing Torah and mitzvos (which automatically disqualifies any conversion, even bedi'eved), the prospects of all the conversion institutes being those managed jointly with heretics, an arrangement that has been prohibited outright by all gedolei Yisroel, would still be considered a serious deterioration. The situation is even more critical, since certain botei din under the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate perform conversions for graduates of the Joint Conversion Institutes the same way as for graduates of the Orthodox institutes. These so-called geirim receive an official certificate of conversion stamped by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.

In response to an investigation of its conversion procedures published several months ago in Yated Ne'eman's Hebrew edition, the Chief Rabbinate's administrative office informed Yated Ne'eman that it issued a number of new directives regarding funding distribution, but an inquiry we have conducted shows that the new directives are extremely superficial and have failed to stop the cooperation between the Rabbinate's conversion botei din and the Joint Conversion Institutes.

In that investigation it was revealed that Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan, director-general of the Botei Din of the Chief Rabbinate, transfers the funding from Ministry of Religions to the Joint Conversion Institutes. This is surprising in light of the fact that he works for the Chief Rabbis who have prohibited having any association with them. Rabbi Ben Dahan also admitted that his office deals with the Joint Conversion Institute the same way that it deals with the Orthodox conversion institutes. Furthermore, the article said, the conversion beis din of Rabbi Chaim Druckman converts graduates of the Joint Institutes in defiance of the guidelines of the Chief Rabbinate.

The spokesman of the Vaad is calling on all those involved in the issue to place the entire conversion system--from the preliminary stage through the completion of the conversion process--in the hands of prominent talmidei chachomim with yiras Shomayim and to take a firm stand against the influx of goyim into kerem Beis Yisroel.


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