Conversion

Why Orthodox rabbis must stop conversions

By Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet, February 4, 2010

Tradition tells us that when the Israelites stood at Sinai and embraced the Torah, they were as converts. From that day till the present, the process of conversion entails a “Sinai moment”. By definition, just as the Israelites accepted upon themselves the obligation of mitzvot then, so too the modern-day convert must accept upon himself the same.

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Rabbi Amar must confront Orthodox marriage registrars

By Seth Farber, February 4, 2010

Rabbi Shlomo Amar’s signature on a document limiting the power of rabbinical courts in Israel to annul conversions is a significant step in stemming the momentum of conversion annulments in Israel. But it fails to address the wider issues of non-recognition of conversions, particularly by Israeli marriage registrars — and, in that sense, falls short of expectations.

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Israel's Chief Rabbi 'We'll stop conversion reversals'

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 4, 2010

The Chief Rabbi of Israel, Shlomo Amar and the new attorney general, Yehuda Weinstein, have agreed on new guidelines limiting the powers of rabbinical courts to revoke conversions.

Under the new guidelines, if rabbinical courts question the validity of a conversion carried out by the special conversion courts, the decision will be referred to the president of the Grand Rabbinical Court, Rabbi Amar. He will decide on a special forum of dayanim that will rule on the specific case.

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Row over conversion organisation EJF 'sex scandal'

By Simon Rocker, January 15, 2010

An extraordinary war of words has broken out over the scandal-racked conversion organisation Eternal Jewish Family, whose founder quit last month over sex allegations.

Rabbi Aba Dunner, the London-based executive director of the Conference of European Rabbis, rounded on the EJF this week, telling the VosIzNeias news site that he would continue to try to stop the organisation’s “nefarious activities”.

But EJF hit back, accusing Rabbi Dunner of not refunding money that it had given to the CER.

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Analysis: Is this not persecution of the weak and defenceless?

By Rabbi Seth Farber, January 14, 2010

Some years ago, a woman who had completed an Israeli Orthodox conversion course finalised her conversion to Judaism on a Friday morning by immersing in a mikveh and accepting the commandments in front of a rabbinical court. Hours later, she boarded a plane for Turkey and by Saturday morning, she and her non-Jewish boyfriend were married in a civil ceremony in Istanbul.

On Sunday morning, the new couple approached the immigration desk at Ben Gurion airport seeking to make aliyah —she on the basis of her conversion, and he as a spouse of a Jew.

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Rabbi: Conversion annullment 'illegal'

By Anshel Pfeffer, January 14, 2010

A rabbi is causing an uproar in Israel’s strictly Orthodox community with a new book in which he insists that there is no Halachic basis for the annulment of conversions.

Rabbi Haim Amsalem, a Shas MK, has been told by his party’s leaders in the past to rein in his zeal to publish Halachic rulings.

One of the party’s ministers even said recently: “He has to decide whether he’s a politician or a rabbi.”

But Rabbi Amsalem is undeterred and his latest book, soon to be published, contains a bombshell.

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Women ‘devastated’ by conversion annulment fears

By Robyn Rosen, January 14, 2010

Three converts have spoken about how the controversy is affecting them.

Mrs B converted in America and has a six-year-old daughter. “This throws up a lot of questions,” she said. “It’s awful to know that someone could rethink my conversion.

“What could it mean for my daughter? To feel that the rug could be pulled from beneath her at some point, I think it’s outrageous.

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Israeli Rabbinate: we can annul conversions

By Leon Symons, January 14, 2010

An “explosive” document on conversions by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel has argued that Orthodox conversions carried out in Israel can be annulled at any time.

The 122-page submission was presented to an Israeli High Court hearing brought by a women’s rights group trying to reinstate thousands of conversions that had been annulled in 2008.

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Unsavoury side of strict conversion

By Miriam Shaviv, December 30, 2009

Three children rejected from JFS, their parents’ conversions in doubt and their own Jewish identities in tatters. A legal ruling by a British court establishing “Who is a Jew” in a way at odds with the traditional Jewish definition. A community at risk of schism.

How did we get into this mess?

A scandal currently unfolding in New York, at first glance completely unrelated, may shed some light on the current farce.

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New York 'tight conversions' rabbi resigns

By Paul Berger, December 17, 2009

The founder of a powerful American group that seeks to enforce a tough stance on conversions has abruptly resigned.

Leib Tropper, a strictly Orthodox rabbi who founded the New York-based Eternal Jewish Family, said he was stepping down last weekend to “pursue a variety of other interests”.

In the past week, images appeared on several Jewish blogs showing posters on display in Orthodox neighbourhoods of Jerusalem accusing him of indiscretions.

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