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”.

Last month, in a sermon at his Borehamwood and Elstree Synagogue, Rabbi Brawer condemned an Israeli rabbinical court for a ruling which could lead to the annulment of thousands of conversions.

In an open letter, Rabbi Ginsbury accused him of having launched “a wholesale and quite venomous diatribe against the Charedi world”.

Defending his previous remarks, Rabbi Brawer writes this week that it is  “nothing less than scandalous to suggest stripping of their Jewish status thousands of converts.

“Rabbi Ginsbury makes the shocking assertion that many if not ‘almost all’ of these converts have been found to have been nowhere near to conforming to normative standards of the conversion requirements of Jewish law.’

“This is an unacceptable indictment, not only on the many sincere converts… but also on the rabbis who oversaw their conversions… Unlike Rabbi Ginsbury, I believe… it is nothing less than moral cowardice to remain silent while others are suffering.”

Last updated: 1:36pm, June 19 2008