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.


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.


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.


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.


Still fighting the battle over Israeli conversions

By Mordechai Beck, January 14, 2009

For many Israelis, Rabbi Chaim Druckman represents the very essence of religious Zionism. His cheerful countenance, swathed in a flowing white beard, commands great respect well beyond the confines of the Zionist yeshivah world in which he has been a major player for almost half a century.


Convert row: US confused

July 18, 2008

The United Jewish Communities in America has asked Israeli premier Ehud Olmert to intervene in a conversion row. The group appealed after Israel’s higher rabbinical court suggested up to 15,000 conversions might be revoked.


JFS admissions policy backed by judge

July 3, 2008

A challenge to the admissions policy of the JFS Comprehensive School in Kenton, North West London, appears to have ended today after Mr Justice Munby ruled the policy to be "entirely lawful and proportionate to the aims and objectives of the school." Sitting in Cardiff, the judge said that Jewish status could only be defined by Jewish law, and was not something to be determined by the secular courts.


Converted Reform? You are a Jew

By Jonathan Romain, June 20, 2008

A Reform leader replies to Charles Golding’s attack last week on the validity of Reform conversions

How could he have got it so wrong? When Charles Golding launched his blood-frothing attack on Reform conversions on this page last week, he made two major errors.

One was his timing. It was so last century. Most Jews today — whatever their religious inclination, be it left, right or centre — agree that the days of “ya-boo-I’m-better-than-you” fulminations are no longer appropriate.


Jews for Jesus in new push

By Candice Krieger, June 20, 2008

Rabbis express deep concern after JC investigation reveals scale of missionary group’s membership drive

The missionary group Jews for Jesus has launched a new push to gain the allegiance of British Jews, the JC can reveal.

More than 30 volunteers from the London branch of the international organisation, whose central tenet is that Jesus is the Messiah and that Jews need to recognise him as such, are approaching and handing out leaflets to Jews across London.


Rabbi backs conversion sermon

By Simon Rocker, June 20, 2008

A United Synagogue rabbi has hit back after being sharply criticised by a colleague for his outspoken comments on Israel’s conversion crisis.

In a letter to the JC, Rabbi Naftali Brawer, joint vice-chairman of the US Rabbinical Council, responded to the claims of Hendon’s Rabbi Mordechai Ginsbury, the council’s immediate past chairman, that he has been “intemperate” and “unfair”.