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Israel - 20 Rabbis Finish Intensive Training Course for Conversion Authority

Published on: July 3, 2011 07:54 PM
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Israel - A possible harbinger of a new Orthodox conversion body in Israel emerged on Thursday evening, at an event marking the end of a training course for rabbis to specialize in Jewish conversion law.

Twenty neighborhood rabbis and heads of yeshivot marked the completion of a year of intensive studies under the Harry O. Triguboff Israel Institute for Conversion Policy at Beit Morasha in the capital, designed to provide them with the tools to work as voluntary rabbis in the State Conversion Authority.

The idea is that the rabbis will boost these conversion courts’ ability to function, thus increasing the numbers of converts from the estimated 300,000 FSU immigrants who are not Jewish by Halacha, in the same way that rabbis are recognized by the state to voluntarily perform weddings.

But for them to join the existing conversion courts would take a cabinet decision and, more important, the acquiescence of Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar. Should he refuse this addition to the system, these 20 rabbis – and many more who will undergo similar training – could pose a clear alternative to Israel’s Orthodox conversion system, which is failing to draw non-Jewish Israelis to its conversion courts.

It is possible that this subtle, implicit threat to the Chief Rabbinate of an alternative system could galvanize the rabbinate into accepting these volunteers.

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Speaking at the event, Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman slammed the Chief Rabbinate for its conduct – or lack thereof – on conversions, but stressed the need for these newly trained rabbis to act from within the system, as the law allows them to.

“We have all forgotten the Torah’s command to love the convert; it is terrible what is happening here,” he said. “The obstacles Israel places to conversions are a national disaster.”


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Read Comments (6)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jul 03, 2011 at 08:56 PM Anonymous Says:

Hopefully, these rabbonim and others that soon will be trained in the laws of kiruv will facilitate the quick and final resolution of the thousands of yidden in EY who are in limbo awaiting formal approval of their conversions. Many of these men and women have already served in the IDF and it is a busha that their final status is still not resolved.

2

 Jul 03, 2011 at 09:30 PM rebezin Says:

I have the impression that the real problem is that most of these potential converts are not committed to observing all the mitzvos. More rabbis to process the candidates just facilitates efficient rejections instead of endless waiting.

3

 Jul 03, 2011 at 10:54 PM Henshe Says:

Reply to #2  
rebezin Says:

I have the impression that the real problem is that most of these potential converts are not committed to observing all the mitzvos. More rabbis to process the candidates just facilitates efficient rejections instead of endless waiting.

It's people like you that are the problem. If someone wants to become Jewish we should welcome them with open arms not put obstacles in their way. If you don't like it rebbetzin, then no one is forcing your children to marry them.

4

 Jul 04, 2011 at 07:19 AM Elazar Says:

Reply to #3  
Henshe Says:

It's people like you that are the problem. If someone wants to become Jewish we should welcome them with open arms not put obstacles in their way. If you don't like it rebbetzin, then no one is forcing your children to marry them.

Unfortunately your assumption that we should "Welcome [converts] with open arms" flies in the face of Halacha, which dictates that the Beis Din must initially try to dissuade the potential convert. We see this concept in Tanach, where Naomi tries to convince Ruth to abandon her plans to join the Jewish faith.

As concerns your comment to the "rebbetzin" vis a vis converts marryng her children, if that was the concern then most Orthodox (or what you probably would term "ultra-Orthodox") Jews wouldn't care less. In much the same way that they don't rely on the Israeli government's definition of Kasruth, they wouldn't rely on the government's definition of conversion.

The main concern here is for the general "secular" Israeli public, most of whom deep down in their hearts really do not want their children marrying out of the faith; unlike the average secular American Jew who either couldn't care less about his child intermarrying or is satisfied by a quickie Reform or Conservative conversion.

If you don't want to be Jewish, then don't convert.

5

 Jul 04, 2011 at 05:24 PM UriLevi Says:

To Elazar. I don't think Henshe is saying that we "welcome converts with open arms" & not first try to dissuade from converting - even creating stumbling blocks - & of course, be sure of their motivations for converting. However, in Eretz Yisroel there are compelling reasons to try to minimize the stumbling blocs ( after first trying to dissuade them ) within the framework of Halacha. Many G'dolim such as Rav Amar and Rav Ovadiah Yosef and Rav Schechter and Rav Lichtenstein have agreed with this approach. This is because of the 10's of 1000s of Russian Jews who are not halachacally Jewish but have shown a commitment to Am Yisrael by their service to the IDF and their individual responses after being investigated if they are truly desirous to follow Halacha or not,. To be sure, many are not, but to totally ignore the crucial problems of these 3- 400,000, which some in the Charedi communities have done- is also a major problem. In the least - it is probably a violation of "Holaych B'Drachav". Are we not to have Racmanus on these "Jews" who consider themselves Jews (even tho halachacaly we know they're not) and try to integrate them into Israeli society and avoid intermarriage?

6

 Jul 04, 2011 at 05:51 PM esther Says:

Reply to #5  
UriLevi Says:

To Elazar. I don't think Henshe is saying that we "welcome converts with open arms" & not first try to dissuade from converting - even creating stumbling blocks - & of course, be sure of their motivations for converting. However, in Eretz Yisroel there are compelling reasons to try to minimize the stumbling blocs ( after first trying to dissuade them ) within the framework of Halacha. Many G'dolim such as Rav Amar and Rav Ovadiah Yosef and Rav Schechter and Rav Lichtenstein have agreed with this approach. This is because of the 10's of 1000s of Russian Jews who are not halachacally Jewish but have shown a commitment to Am Yisrael by their service to the IDF and their individual responses after being investigated if they are truly desirous to follow Halacha or not,. To be sure, many are not, but to totally ignore the crucial problems of these 3- 400,000, which some in the Charedi communities have done- is also a major problem. In the least - it is probably a violation of "Holaych B'Drachav". Are we not to have Racmanus on these "Jews" who consider themselves Jews (even tho halachacaly we know they're not) and try to integrate them into Israeli society and avoid intermarriage?

re the conversions,i'm not a rav obviously but surely it can't be about rachmanus or supposed feelings of commitment to am yisroel. sof kol sof if they aren't mgayer khalacha,this will davka cause intermarriage c'v. how did we come to this disaster of having hundreds of thousands of goyishe russians in ey in the first place? because the goverment did not define mi hu yehudi according to halcaha. let's not dig the grave deeper by continuing to erode halacha for political expediance.

7

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