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.
Last month EJF’s founder Rabbi Leib Tropper resigned after recordings of a salacious telephone conversation emerged apparently between him and a prospective woman convert.
But even before his departure, EJF had been under fire from the CER, which accused it of trying to meddle in conversion in Europe.
Rabbi Dunner described the tapes of the phone call as “quite sick” and “shocking”.
Retaliating in a statement on the same website, EJF said that it had given a “significant grant” to CER to fund its Beth Din. It added that it had grown “suspicious of the questionable use of the funds by Rabbi Dunner” and claimed he had refused requests to refund some of the money.
But Rabbi Dunner hit back, telling an Orthodox newspaper, “It is a long-established pattern of the hired cheerleaders of the EJF to attempt to blacken the name of anyone who criticises their activities in any way”.
Rabbi Dunner told the JC this week that the EJF had originally offered $250,000 towards the CER’s Beth Din, which supervises conversions in Europe, but that only half the money had come last year.
He said the money was used for the purpose for which it had been given, the expenses of the CER’s Beth Din, for which EJF received “clear accounting”.
He added: “We want the EJF to get out of Europe”.
Despite the rift between the CER and EJF, the head of the CER’s Beth Din, Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu, the influential former head of the London Beth Din, has continued to be associated with EFF’s work in Europe.
Rabbi Dunner said: “There is a lot of surprise within the CER at Dayan Ehrentreu’s continued involvement with EJF”.