Continued attempts by various compromisers to find
possibilities of cooperation with the Reform and Conservative
continue to make headlines in Israel. The strong and clear
psak din issued by maranan verabonon against
any cooperation or even recognition of heretic groups needs
no further clarification. However, in light of statements
being made by unauthorized "orthodox" spokesmen, I feel it
necessary to review several of the main points which are of
interest in the psak din and to emphasize certain
facts which are purposely being distorted, especially their
claim that they are doing everything within the bounds of
The Ne'eman Committee is totally not acceptable for two
reasons: 1] The existence of a committee composed of
Orthodox, Reform and Conservative participants gives
recognition to ideologies that do not recognize the
principles of Torah from Sinai as being Jewish.
2] Furthermore, in practice, a committee established to seek
compromise on conversion matters can only succeed by
It should be noted that neither the actual Ne'eman Committee
nor the Joint Conversion Institute established in its wake
have any legitimate orthodox members who are representative
of the community. The so called "orthodox" members of the
committee were not appointed by any recognized rabbinical
group, including the Israeli Chief Rabbinate.
The so-called orthodox head of the joint conversion institute
is a professor who heads a learning center under Rabbi Steven
Riskin. He has no backing from any authentic orthodox group.
In fact such backing is clearly out of the question since the
conversion institute was prohibited by rabbonim from all
sections of orthodoxy.
It follows that the Ne'eman Committee's conclusions are
nothing more than intervention on the part of the Israeli
civil court and government into serious matters that are of a
purely halachic nature. It is clearly understood that
the Israeli court's decisions to register Reform and
Conservative converts as Jews in the national population
registry and to put this information on their identity cards
is an action that has serious halachic consequences --
and the Ne'eman Committee is even worse because it interferes
with the conversion process. It is not more than a government
recognized and appointed commission of non- authorized
Orthodox people who try to mix into halachic issues
which must really be decided only by authentic rabbonim.
Neither Mr. Ne'eman nor Rabbi Riskin have hidden their view
that the conversion process has to be made "easier" in order
to accommodate the many seeking conversion. Ne'eman expressed
his view when he appeared before the Knesset Law Committee
earlier this month, and Rabbi Riskin wrote the same thing in
an article in the winter issue of Breichot Shlomo.
This just proves that the peshoro machers have decided
that they can tamper with the halocho in order to
"save" Klal Yisroel.
It is therefore worthwhile to repeat the position of the Vaad
HaRabbonim Haolami LeInyonei Giyur headed by HaRav Chaim
Kreiswirth that conversion is not a solution to the problem
of the hundreds of thousands of goyim who now live in
Israel. A worthless conversion certificate will only worsen
the problem by hiding the true goyim. Just like a
worthless kashrus certificate cannot kasher
pork, a worthless conversion certificate cannot transform a
goy into a Jew -- regardless of how many rabbis signed
It is unfortunate that certain rabbis who signed the landmark
psak din last year prohibiting all aspects of the
Ne'eman Committee's conclusions are now pressuring the true
Orthodox rabbonim to reach some "compromise."
We do not want to mention who these rabbonim are at this
time, since it is still hoped that they will not continue in
these efforts and will remain true to the psak which
they signed only a year ago. These rabbis have been told very
clearly that there is no room to compromise on these matters
and that no changes will be allowed in the original psak
Recent moves of the Israeli government to recognize the
actions of the Reform and Conservative clergy have raised new
calls to organize private sifrei yichus. A Vaad
Leyichusei Yisroel has been founded to work on this project
on the instructions of the gedolei hador and it
reports that unsolicited registrations have been arriving in
its office over the past several weeks.
I would like to conclude with the words of Professor de La
Pergola of Hebrew University, said to be a world authority on
Jewish demographics, who recently spoke about the
demographics of the Jewish Nation. With regard to conversion
he said that more Jews use conversion as a method to escape
Judaism by getting social justification for marrying a non-
Jewish spouse, than as a method to enter the Jewish nation.
"The results of conversion do not justify the common claim
that conversion is a way to increase the Jewish Nation," the
Rabbonim who have dealt with conversion matters in the field
know from bitter experience that very few of those who
undergo a bogus conversion retain much Jewish identity for
very long. I was told that at a meeting in Denmark of the
"converts" of a person who considers himself an Orthodox
rabbi, almost no one said that he or she considered himself
Jewish as opposed to Danish.
The peshoro machers should examine the real
consequences of bogus conversions before they present easy
solutions for saving Klal Yisroel. From a halachic
perspective they have no standing but from a practical
perspective they display ignorance of the current makeup of
the Jewish nation.
From this perspective, the motives of those who call for easy
conversion must be examined to see what they really are. From
the Torah's point of view, conversion without real acceptance
of the yoke of mitzvos is, in many cases, nothing more than a
hechsher to assimilation -- and worth as much as a
hechsher on pork.