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”.


State and religion clash on converts

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 20, 2008

In an unprecedented clash between state and religion, Justice Minister Daniel Friedman announced this week that he will act to fire the Dayan (rabbinical judge) who ruled that all the conversions made over the last nine years by the special conversion courts were null and void.

The ruling has caused chaos in the already unsteady conversion process in Israel.


The conversion row: pure politics

By Geoffrey Alderman, June 20, 2008

Religion is not the prime reason for the recent spate of conversion annulments

Three weeks ago, in a Shabbat sermon about which he must have thought a great deal, Naftali Brawer, rabbi of the United Synagogue at Borehamwood, launched a ferocious attack against those of his colleagues — in Israel and elsewhere — who have proudly claimed responsibility for, and enthusiastically supported, one of the most malevolent rabbinical decisions of recent times.


Converted Reform? You’re not a Jew

By Charles Golding, June 13, 2008

The Orthodox columnist offers his own scathing view of what he calls a ‘failed Reform experiment’

Not a week passes in the Jewish media without a reference to it. Acres of print are devoted to its analysis. Diverse stories all boil down to one question. Who is a Jew?


Conversion body was ‘a failure’

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 6, 2008

The Israeli Civil Service Authority has described the Conversion Directorate in a special report as “failing in a national mission” by not succeeding in boosting the number of conversions in Israel over the past decade.

The directorate’s head, Rabbi Haim Drukman, dismissed two weeks ago by the Prime Minister’s Office, hit back at the findings, insisting that “the report is warped and maliciously targeted against me and my deputy.

“We never committed ourselves to numbers and this is a travesty of the whole issue.”


The latest conversion row could tear us apart

By Rabbi Jeremy Gordon, June 6, 2008

The conflict over Israeli conversions will lead modern Orthodox to split from Charedim

Shavuot is a time for reading the book of Ruth: “Wherever you go, I go, your people shall be my people and your God shall be my God …” It is a time when Jews should focus on matters relating to conversions. There is much to consider.


UK rabbi uses sermon to attack convert annulments as ‘insane’

By Simon Rocker, May 30, 2008

A leading United Synagogue rabbi has hit out at the recent decision of a rabbinical court in Israel calling for the annulment of thousands of conversions carried out in the country.

Rabbi Naftali Brawer condemned the verdict of the Supreme Rabbinical Court of Jerusalem as symptomatic of an “insane and oppressive interpretation” of Jewish law.


This conversion row could hit us all

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 30, 2008

Israeli ultra-Orthodox inflexibility over converts could re-shape the diaspora

The controversy over conversion in Israel, which culminated last week in the dismissal of the head of the Conversion Authority, Rabbi Chaim Drukman, is more than just another dispute between religious viewpoints. Drukman’s firing, shortly after the Supreme Rabbinical Court ruled that his conversions were invalid, is a cultural and political debate that will determine the shape of the Jewish people for decades.


Converts not recognised

May 23, 2008

The Conference of European Rabbis will not recognise Israeli conversions, particularly those of Rabbi Haim Druckman, head of the Chief Rabbinate’s State Conversion Authority. It says it opposes “Israeli rabbis shuttling to Europe especially to perform a conversion”.


Thousands ‘not Jewish’ after conversion row

By Anshel Pfeffer, May 9, 2008

The Chief Rabbi of Israel, Shlomo Amar, is to convene the entire Grand Rabbinical Court to overturn a previous ruling that could revoke thousands of conversions made over the past decade.

Three of the more conservative dayanim [religious judges] from the Court last week published a ruling that said that all the conversions performed by the special giyur [conversion] courts were “null and void”.