The Jerusalem Report recently reported that the Chief
Rabbis have written a letter to Attorney General Eliakim
Rubinstein, confirming their promise that candidates who
graduate the Joint Conversion Institutes (which are operated
in conjunction with the Conservative and Reform) and who are
converted in the courts of Rabbi Chaim Druckman in Or Etzion
will be treated no differently than those converted in the
courts of the Chief Rabbinate. Elements in the Rabbinate say
that they will approve each conversion on an individual
basis, according to its circumstances, and not in a sweeping
Some religious elements are continuing to cooperate with the
joint ulpanim where heretical streams play a role in the
preparation of potential converts for their so-called
conversions. The report states that Rabbi Druckman's court
has adopted the joint ulpanim which were prohibited by
maranan verabonon. At the time these ulpanim were
prohibited, Rabbis Druckman and Avior publicly announced
their readiness to adopt them, despite the prohibition of
The collaboration between the special courts and the joint
ulpanim includes the opening of files, an initial interview
and the scheduling of appointments in the court in
coordination with the directors and heads of the ulpanim.
This collaboration was formed due to the closing of some of
the Orthodox ulpanim. As a result, many of the conversion
candidates will now come from the joint ulpanim. Special
conversion courts base their conversions only on the
candidate's knowledge, and do not conduct any serious or in-
depth investigations of the sincerity of the candidate's
intentions to observe the mitzvos.
A number of weeks ago, a meeting of dayanim was held
in Beersheva. It was attended by Professor Benny Ish-Shalom,
the director of the joint ulpanim on behalf of the Jewish
Agency. Eli ben Dahan, the general director of the
rabbinical courts, who delivered lectures to the teachers of
the ulpan, which include Reform and Conservative teachers,
also spoke at the meeting.
In his speech, Professor Ish-Shalom said that at these joint
ulpanim there are ten teachers from the Conservative and
Reform streams. "Two of them are conspicuously Reform," he
added. Later on, Ish-Shalom evaded the question of whether
he requires the "conversion candidates" to receive religious
education, and said that the inter-stream symposiums take
place outside the study hours.
Yated Ne'eman learned that Chief Rabbi Yisroel Meir
Lau was irate over the meeting, which he said took place
without his knowledge, and was not in his spirit, and to
which he hadn't even been invited. A sharp exchange took
place between Chief Rabbi Lau and the director general of
the rabbinical courts, and as a result the relations between
the two are very tense.
Officials of the Chief Rabbinate say that the Chief
Rabbinate's letter to the Attorney General states that the
Rabbinate is not involved in the study program prior to the
conversion, but only in the examining of the conversions
which take place in the courts. "Every convert who undergoes
a conversion process will be examined separately, on an
individual basis," says the Chief Rabbinate.
In its reaction, the Vaad HaRabbonim Haolami LeInyonei Giyur
headed by HaRav Kreiswirth, the ga'avad of Antwerp, said:
"We must remain on the alert so that the Chief Rabbinate
will fulfill is decision of Shevat 13, 5758 to sever all
relationships with the joint ulpanim. It is inconceivable to
convert graduates of those ulpanim according to the method
of `each case individually' after they have been exposed to
apikorsus and invalid methods in Judaism, which do
not mandate full mitzvah observance -- how much more so in
courts like Rabbi Druckman's where they `convert' them in
conveyor belt fashion, after one deliberation, and based
only a declaration."
The spokesman of the Vaad criticized the reaction of the
Chief Rabbinate, which declared that every convert who
undergoes conversion is investigated individually. The
spokesman said that in truth, Rabbi Avior publicly
proclaimed, in an interview in the Jerusalem Report
that he relies solely on a declaration given by the convert
that he will observe the mitzvos, and that Rabbi Avior
doesn't examine if this is indeed the case.
The Jerusalem Report article confirms the serious
shortcomings in the conversion process by Rabbis Druckman
and Avior which Yated has already reported many
times. The article even quotes Yated as saying: "Well
over 90 percent of the converts have no intention of
observing mitzvos." Not only does the writer accept this,
but the article goes on to praise Rabbis Druckman and Avior
for their "friendly and welcoming" approach.
The article, entitled "The Birth of Israel's New Jews,"
interviews a "convert" of Rabbi Druckman's court who says,
"They didn't ask me whether I was prepared to be Orthodox,
but whether I was ready to commit myself to this people and
to this faith."
Rabbi Avior was asked, "What if a convert joins a Reform
congregation?" and he answered, "I care only about one
thing. That he fulfills the promise that he made before the
court to become a practicing Jew, to keep Shabbos, kashrus
and family purity."
In response to the question, "How can we guarantee that a
convert will honor his commitment?" he answered, "If we show
people respect, he'll respect us in return."
The article clearly confirms that Rabbis Druckman and Avior
work hand-in-hand with the Joint Conversion Institutions and
readily convert the graduates even though it is quite
obvious that they have no real intention of properly
observing mitzvos, which is me'akev the conversion