Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

18 Sivan 5766 - June 14, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network











International Rabbinical Conference in Jerusalem to Buttress Halachic Conversion

By Betzalel Kahn

An international rabbinical conference scheduled to take place next month in Jerusalem will focus on upholding conversions in accordance with halochoh. Prominent rabbonim and dayonim are expected to attend, discussing various facets of the issue and setting clear guidelines for conversions performed by Torah-true rabbonim around the world.

The conference is intended to counter a grave trend in recent years of performing non-halachic conversions and issuing "conversion certificates." Gedolei Yisroel shlita are deeply concerned non-Jews will get absorbed into Am Yisroel, posing a threat to its integrity.

The US-based kiruv organization Horizons has spent the last few years working on ways to prevent recognizing conversions not performed in accordance with halochoh. Many students currently enrolled at Jewish schools and considered Jewish are not really Jewish at all, but rather goyim absorbed into Am Yisroel following intermarriages. Horizons specializes in helping intermarried couples according to the strictest standars of halochoh.

Worried by the reports they have been hearing, rabbonim headed by gedolei Yisroel encouraged Horizons to organize the conference. The initiative was promoted by the heads of Horizons and Eternal Jewish Family (EJF), including HaRav Reuven Feinstein, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Staten Island, HaRav Leib Tropper, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivas Kol Yaakov in Monsey, and HaRav Nachum Eisenstein, chairman of Vaad HaRabbonim Haolami LeInyonei Giyur.

These rabbonim are working in cooperation with HaRav Simchah Hacohen Kook, the rov of Rechovot, and HaRav Shmuel Eliezer Stern, a dayan and moreh tzedek in the beis din of HaRav Shmuel Halevi Wosner.

The rabbinical delegation was in Eretz Yisroel last week to lay the matter before gedolei Yisroel and seek their advice on the proper ways to address the problem. They visited the homes of Maran HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv, HaRav Aharon Leib Shteinman, HaRav Shmuel Halevi Wosner, HaRav Nissim Karelitz, HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, HaRav Shmuel Auerbach, the Admor of Gur, the Gavad of Erlau and a list of other rabbonim and admorim. Shocked by the reports they heard, these gedolei Torah authorized the rabbonim to take action to stop the breach threatening the shleimus of the Jewish people.

The rabbonim maintain regular contact with Israeli Chief Rabbis Moshe Shlomo Amar and Yonah Metzger in addition to Diaspora rabbonim in order to prevent the recognition of converts who did not undergo proper halachic conversions.

Over 400 rabbonim took part in two conferences held in the US in light of the situation, and 200 rabbonim have already pledged to take part in next month's conference in Jerusalem from the 21st to the 23rd of Tammuz. The schedule includes meetings to set needed guidelines, meetings with principals and heads of outreach organizations and screened presentations on the demographic figures.

The conference is being funded by the Lillian Jean Kaplan Foundation, which is headed by the Kaplan brothers, the philanthropists who sponsor the organization.


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