Lord Jakobovits, Louis Jacobs and conversion

By Simon Rocker
September 18, 2009

Interesting revelations on conversion from Ivor Jacobs, a prominent member of the Masorti movement and son of its spiritual founder, Rabbi Louis Jacobs.

In the latest edition of the New North London Synagogue magazine, he writes:

“In the seventies and eighties, problems for children of non-Orthodox conversions were occasionally addressed by Chief Rabbi Jakobovits. He could see what a tremendous wrong would have been perpetrated to force such people to go through years of difficulty to be converted under Orthodox auspices.

“He approached my father, Rabbi Jacobs (who was still seen as Orthodox but of the non-fundamentalist type) to convert and marry youngsters on compassionate grounds. My father did as requested as those in question had absolutely no idea that they were not considered properly Jewish.

“It must be noted that Reform conversions were not always carried out halachically so my father had to convert the people as he would not have married people who were technically non-Jews.

“From around this time, Reform agreed to make all its conversions halachic, as there was also a move to tie up all the movements and agree to a single standard for conversion.”

Alas, the agreed single standard never came to pass.


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