Conversion

Legal battle over convert's Jewish status

By James Martin, November 19, 2009

The head of a legal team fighting to restore a convert’s status as a halachically recognised Jew has warned Jerusalem’s High Rabbinical Court that there would be a “war of the titans” if it did not revoke a judgment that he had never been Jewish.

Anat Hoffman, executive director of the Israel Religious Action Centre, spoke after the court postponed an appeal hearing against a decision by the Jerusalem Beth Din to rescind Yossi Fackenheim’s Orthodox conversion.

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Orthodox rabbi calls for easier conversion

By Simon Rocker, September 18, 2009

One of the most senior figures of British Orthodoxy has called on Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks to make conversion to Judaism easier.

Rabbi Jeffrey Cohen, emeritus rabbi of Stanmore Synagogue and author of numerous books on Judaism, appealed for action following the court case over admission to Jewish schools.

Speaking at a JC-hosted discussion published in today’s New Year supplement, Dr Cohen said: “I think the Chief Rabbi, who has spoken about us having to be more inclusive, needs to do a lot of hard talking to his Beth Din, if that is what he really means.”

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Who will carry the torch for Jewish unity?

By Simon Rocker, August 13, 2009

In his typically forthright way, Gerald Ronson, the president of the new Jewish Community Secondary School, explained the reason behind its opening next year: “It is important that in our community we do have a first-class faith school which will take on board non-halachic, together with halachic, children,” he said in a YouTube interview, adding: “It’s not me that makes the issue of whether you are halachic, non-halachic… You want to go to a Jewish school? You should be able to go to a Jewish school.”

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Single conversion standard resisted

By Simon Rocker, July 30, 2009

The head of the United Synagogue’s Rabbinical Council (RCUS) has responded to a call for a common conversion standard by asserting that only Orthodox conversions are valid.

Jonathan Arkush, the Board of Deputies’ senior vice-president and a US member, publicly revived the idea of a unified approach at a Board meeting last week in order to prevent disputes over who is a Jew.

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Board man urges ‘one conversion standard’

By Leon Symons, July 23, 2009

The senior vice-president of the Board of Deputies has called for a common standard of conversion to prevent a repeat of the JFS situation.

Jonathan Arkush, a modern Orthodox Jew who is a member of Borehamwood Synagogue, put forward the suggestion during a debate at Sunday’s Board plenary meeting in central London — and he won immediate support from president Vivian Wineman.

Mr Arkush, a barrister, was elected to the post in the May poll, the first time he has been one of the honorary officers.

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The deep wrongs that lie at heart of JFS case

By Jonathan Wittenberg, July 16, 2009

There is something wrong with the state of Judaism in this country.
The world exists because of the breath of children studying Torah, proclaims the Talmud. How, then, have we turned education into an instrument of exclusion? No one should have to go to law to seek the right to gain a Jewish education for a Jewish child at a state-funded Jewish school.

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Cash pledged for Reform conversions

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 27, 2009

Two separate rulings by the Supreme Court in Israel last week have brought the controversial issue of giyur (conversion) back to the fore.

In a petition filed by the Israeli Reform movement, the court ruled that the government has to provide the Reform and Conservative academies that prepare candidates for conversion with the same funding it gives Orthodox academies.

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Rabbinate in US ‘betray converts’

By Simon Rocker, March 19, 2009

An extraordinary row over conversions has broken out between one of America’s leading modern Orthodox rabbis and the umbrella body for the central Orthodox rabbinate.

Rabbi Avi Weiss, of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, New York, has accused the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) of creating an “alarmist climate” among converts after telling a woman he helped to convert that she must undergo a reconversion.

The RCA explained that the original conversion might not be universally accepted because one member of the rabbinic court that converted her was himself a convert.

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Now they claim I’m not Jewish!

By James Martin, March 12, 2009

Yossi Fackenheim is a 29-year-old Israeli like any other. He proudly served in the IDF and lives and breathes the country. But a judge in the Jerusalem rabbinical court has ruled that he can no longer be considered Jewish.

“Either I’m excommunicated and there’s nothing I can do, or I fight and get justice for a right I thought was mine for life — being Jewish,” said Mr Fackenheim defiantly as he sat in a Swiss Cottage café in north London, discussing a bewildering turn of events.

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Analysis: Converts left in crisis by rabbinical courts

By Simon Rocker, March 12, 2009

The annulment of Yossi Fackenheim’s conversion has yet again called into question the conduct of Israel’s rabbinic courts. Not only is the fact that he is the son of one of the 20th century’s leading Jewish theologians bound to produce outrage over his treatment; so, too, is the very idea of retroactively stripping a person of their Jewish status.

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