Sunday, February 24, 2008

Is Eternal Jewish Family the center of the universe?

Recipients and Publicity wrote:


Dear anonymous who states that "Guma Kaplan Aguiar is the son of Ellen Kaplan."

Please do not misunderstand anything, but because the EJF has inserted itself into the heart of the matter of Halachic conversions to Judaism it is vital that the backgrounds of all the people involved with EJF itself on a leadership and policy level be known and beyond reproach.

In that spirit, can you tell us who the "Aguiar" family is and what is the meaning of the highly unusual name "Guma"? And could you clarify who is the person from the Kaplan family that Rabbi Tropper helped to get a conversion for that has been said in a various circles was the catalyst and reason Tom Kaplan got onto the conversion bandwagon together with Rabbi Tropper?

Clarification of these questions will help to resolve any conflict of interest issues that may be hindering the perception in the eyes of some astute observers that the motivation behind the EJF efforts to convert gentile spouses is not entirely altruistic but has some taint of self-vindication.

Your mentioning of the "Nefesh BeNefesh" program whereby some Christian groups contribute to the air tickets to fly people to Israel for Aliyah is presumably meant as a "defense" of EJF to convert gentiles and make them into Jews. But don't you see the absurdity of that comparison because Nefesh BeNefesh is not interfering with any Halachic process nor is it setting itself up to influence the outcome of mass conversions to batei din. The only shaila is if it is permissible to accept money from Christian charities to assist Jews to move to Israel and it is known that Rav Eliashic has clearly ruled that it is ok to take that money from them to help Jews make aliyah.

In a similar way, the American government gives billions of dollars to Israel and almost all Americans, in and out of government are Christinas, so does that mean that the Israeli government or even Jews in America should not take aid from the American government because basically all Americans are Christians and America is a Christian country? Obviously not.

Anyhow, if EJF were to switch it's priorities and either replace the money coming from Christian sources or give to Nefesh BeNefesh instead of it's desire to involve itself in mass-produced and organized conversions to Judaism, then it would be hailed as a truly great organization, just as Sir Moses Montefiore, through his marriage into the wealthy Rothchild family, got himself and the Rothchild's involved in improving the quality of life of the poor Jews in Palestine under the Turks and with the Rothchilds they became known as great investors and helpers of the Jewish people who wished to live and settle in Eretz Yisroel and for which they are held in the highest regard by the Jewish people until this day.

There are so many others to emulate. How about the Reichman family that put tens of millions of dollars at the disposal of Rav Shach zt"l to help Charedi causes so that he would not have to beg the secular Zionist leadership in Israel for funds? Or even not for tzedaka, how about emulating the great non-Jewish investor Warren Buffet who invested a few billion in Israel? These are all admirable avenues for wealthy people and billionares to invest either their capital or philanthropy/tzedaka in Eretz Yisroel and its people. But not to get involved in matters that per force must lead to a head on clash with Halachic bodies, such as batei din as the BADATZ that have ruled that EJF's goals are beyond the Halachic pale and represents a subversion of the status quo of the way Klal Yisroel deals with this crisis.

There are many crises burning in the midest of Klal Yisroel today.

There is a shidduch crisis. There is a dropout crisis. There is a divorce crisis. There are many crises and yes intermarriage and false conversions is one of them. But in no case has or can Klal Yisroel respond with "organizational" efforts in the vain hope that any given organization will solve any of the crises. Ultimately, problems are solved by individuals, families and one congregation or kehillah at a time.

A big Rebbe can talk to his Chasidim and a Rosh Yeshiva can talk to his yeshiva, but Rabbi Tropper and EJF cannot talk to all of Klal Yisroel and the Jewish people as if they ere addressing a local meeting of Rabbi Tropper's Kol Yaakov Yeshiva's board of directors.

Therefore, just as:

No one organization can solve the shiddusch and singles crisis.

No one organization has solved the dropout and teens at risk crisis.

No organization can stop or help the divorce or sholom bayis crisis.

Likewise:

No single organization can stop or change intermarriage and the challenge of creating a universal standard or to encourage conversions of non-Jews married to Jewish spouses.

Sure, some people have set up large kiruv organizations. Some large some small. But they are essentialy involved in educating ignorant people. There primary job is to educate ignorant Jews about Yiddishkeit in the hope of making them frum. Success varies. Setting up a Ba'al teshuva Yeshiva is also commendable. What can be wrong with setting up a makom Torah to teach other Yidden about Yiddishkeit?

But Orthodox Kiruv organizations cannot start functioning like Reform temples who actively seek to accept the gentile spouses and "partners" into the community.

Being Orthodox, by definition, means that there will always be barriers and sometimes those barriers will be almost impossible to overcome.

It is not for nothing that the Chazal teach us that in the future Klal Yisroel will not accept geirim. And thus where there is a great danger in either not pushing for a strict standard, as with some too-lenient Orthodox rabbis or with the too-pushy EJF effort, that it will induce the kind of reaction neither will wish to see, and that is that Charedi Jews, and the actions of the BADATZ are already a good example, will close the door entirly on all geirim well-before the arrival of Mashiach, because no-one wishes to see him greeted by an oilem of safek-Yidden.

Thus not only the BADATZ's recent declarations and intereest in this matter, but also the Beis Din LeInyonei Giur backed by Rav Eliashiv in Eretz Yisroel are already cracking down.

There is a huge debate about all of this in Eretz Yisroel with some left-wing Mizrachi rabbis supporting the Israeli government's push for mass non-Halachic "conversions" so where EJF stands in relation to all of this is ambiguous.

On the one hand they wish to appear as having the backing of Charedi gedolim, but on the other hand they do NOT work like a Charedi organization by the way they push and shove and posture and yes, even bully and intimidate, in their ambition to function as some kind of central attraction center, screening and production base for large-scale mass-conversions of gentiles married to Jews, when perhaps they would be better advised to back off. The world does not need Rabbi Tropper as "director of conversions" when his speciality has always been to make yeshiva bochurim out of young secular Jews. It is misguided of him to now try to make Halachic Jews out of non-Jews.

It is time for Rabbi Tropper to stop and take stock why he is so obsessed with changing one species of people into another. He would be better advised to leave well enough alone and let nature take its course and hand over the reins to the Eibishter.

6 comments :

  1. Guma (or Gome) is not an unusual name among Spanish and Portuguese families especially in Brazil. The word "guma" means "man". The common Spanish surname "Gomez" comes from the word "guma".

    The Aguiars are a Brazilian Portuguese family. Ellen Kaplan is married to Otto Aguiar and Guma is Ellen Kaplan's son.

    If EJF did indeed facilitate a "conversion" for Otto Aguiar, would Mr. Aguiar be accepted as a Jew in Israel if the purpose of the "conversion" was to permit Ms. Kaplan to marry a non Jew?

    Such a question might best be addressed to Rabbi Moshe Nidam who has been appointed by the Office of the Chief Rabbinute to oversee Diaspora conversions.

    If Guma Aguiar is the natural born son of Ms. Ellen Kaplan and she is Jewish he is also Jewish according to Jewish law.

    I am not sure that I agree with your statement:

    "Nefesh BeNefesh is not interfering with any Halachic process nor is it setting itself up to influence the outcome of mass conversions to batei din."

    Organizations such as Nefesh b'Nefesh and Shalvei Israel receive the bulk of their support from Christian organizations. I do believe that these organizations ARE trying to change the sociological and religious demographics of Israel to suit the goals of Christian Zionism.

    I believe that it fits into the goals of Christian Zionists to manipulate the Rabbinute to accept conversions which are not acceptable k'halacha.

    I also believe that Israeli Rabbis underestimate the impact that Christian doctrine, which permeates every aspect of life in the West has upon some of the decisions made by many American Rabbis. I believe that EJF is merely a manifestation of this influence which is why I brought up Nefesh b'Nefesh.

    Thank you for your intensely researched and very thought provoking posts. I, for one am deeply grateful for the tremendous amount of time you have been spending.

    I am grateful to Rabbi Eidensohn for giving us all the opportunity to learn so much via this blog.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Recipients and PublicityFebruary 24, 2008 at 9:24 PM

    Hi anonymous, the comparison of Nefesh BeNefesh to EJF seems to be nothing more than a red herring argument to distract from the central questions and doubts surrounding EJF, its stated purpose and its true (hidden/secret?) agenda.

    Again, for anyone familiar with Jewish history, there have been instances of gentiles and gentile rulers either issueing decrees allowing Jews to go to Eretz Yisroel or even to help them. This is an old topic. See the books of Ezra and Nechemia and the consequences of Cyrus the Great of Persia's decrees that allowed the Jews to return to Eretz Yisroel to rebuild the Second Bais HaMikdosh.

    In retrospect no frum Jew has problems with Cyrus' (Korush) decree (well, maybe if Satmar were around then they may not have bought into his permit for the Jews to go back to Israel so easily and accused him of being a "Zionist agent"). But in all seriousness, it is interesting to note that the challenge and offer from Cyrus to let the Jews return to Eretz Yisroel and allow them to rebuild the Bais HaMikdosh was ALSO tied in with the problems of the inetermarried Jews who wished to join Ezra and Nechemia on their mission back to EY. And as is well-known, Ezra openly asked them to get rid of their goyishe wives, listing all their names in Sefer Ezra for all time.

    Thus, while Ezra accepted the offers of help from Cyrus's and the Persian kings who came after him (there were a few others) to get back to Israel, Ezra simultaneously commanded whoever was intermarried to divorce from their goyishe spouses. Now it should be born in mind that Chazal teach that Ezra was as great if not greater than Moshe Rabbeinu. Just as Moshe was the "moshia" out of ancient Egypt which lead to the building of the mishkan and then the First Temple, Ezra was the "moshia" of the Jews from the 70 year Babylonian exile that lead up to the building of the Second Temple, and it will be the true Mashiach, may he come soon, who will complete the process that we see unfolding today of laying the groundwork for the Third Temple, the true Bais HaMikdosh, may it be rebuilt speedily in our days.

    By the way, Moishe Rabbeinu brought out the "mixed multitude" of the eruv rav from Mitzrayim, that had dire consequences. Ezra fought mixed marriages and false geirim in his time, and in our own age there is massive intermarriage at the same time that there is a huge Reurn To Zion with nearly half the world's Jews living in Eretz Yisroel at the present time.

    So much for patters in Jewish history, but the discussion here is about an organization called EJF that wishes to become "the central address" for all gentiles who wish to obtain a Halachic conversion. A real pipe dream because not all Orthodox and Charedi Jews will know or accept such a thing. As has been explained, the Modern Orthodox are not on board the EJF express. The Chasidim do not recognize anyone else's rulings on many issues such as kashrus, gittin and certainly not on geirus. A Satmar beis din will not care what EJF says or does just as it does not care much for real powers like the RCA's Beth Din, or even Agudas Yisroel's in-house Bais Din, after all they are tainted as "Tziyonim" so that is that. Then the Israeli Chief Rabbinate is a power unto itself made up of many factions and parts that change from Knesset to Knesset. It is staffed by Dayanim from Mizrachi, from Charedi Yeshivas and by Sefardi Dayanim. And none of them have any interest or respect for what anyone does in America. Lately they have been acting as if they expect the Jews of the diaspora to accept their standards and this is being disputed. Likewise with the BADATZ's rejection of and call to action against the EJF, some will listen and believe the the BADATZ's concerns and other will not, as we see how EJF is trying to brush them off with false arguments that it's a "Hillel vs. Shammai" scenario when EJF is just an American not-for-profit charity.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Recipients and PublicityFebruary 24, 2008 at 10:31 PM

    Glancing at the opening sentence on the EJF "about us" page at
    http://www.eternaljewishfamily.org/about.htm
    is very odd.
    It says: "The Eternal Jewish Family is an independent organization..." but is that self-assertion true if (as on all the EJF site pages) the prominent logo just above proclaims: "Eternal Jewish Family: The Lillian Jean Kaplan Jewish Pride Through Education Project" so that any intelligent reader would ask how is EJF an "independent project" if it is part of a "Jewish Pride Through Education Project" from a source called "Lillian Jean Kaplan" which in itself refers to a particular family and more specifically to the "Lillian Jean Kaplan Foundation"?

    A Google search
    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22Lillian+Jean+Kaplan+Foundation%22&btnG=Google+Search
    shows that this foundation has a wide variety of interests, such as giving grants and awards for medical research, preserving African wild-life, accepting stock from even more remote sources, see http://sec.edgar-online.com/2004/01/13/0000899078-04-000020/Section17.asp and much much more, even movies together with the "The Otto Aguiar Family Project" see http://www.indestructiblefilm.com/supporters.php

    An anonymous poster has already stated here that "The Aguiars are a Brazilian Portuguese family. Ellen Kaplan is married to Otto Aguiar and Guma is Ellen Kaplan's son. If EJF did indeed facilitate a 'conversion' for Otto Aguiar..." so that the involvement of "The Otto Aguiar Family Project" in projects together with the "Lillian Jean Kaplan Foundation" (and probably a few other such entities not fully known to the public yet) makes the EJF opening claim on its website that it is "an independent organization..." very hard to be believed because not everyone looking at it is a person desperate for its services.

    The opening lines at the EJF home page are no less troubling: "Fully cognizant of the many pitfalls and complex halachic issues involved in intermarriage conversion, and with careful and deliberate consideration to the sensitive nature of this issue, the Eternal Jewish Family was founded in 2005, with the encouragement and support of leading Torah authorities."

    Note that it dives right in to "intermarriage conversion" which in itself is NOT Halachic, yet the EJF never tires of reminding everyone that it wishes to work within Halacha under "leading Torah authorities" who do not sanction a dubious thing called "intermarriage conversion" because if a Jew is intermarried, the conversion of their non-Jewish spouse is automatically questionable and according to most reliable Halachic authorities not a vaild conversion. The allowance of such marriages rests on loopholes and kulas (leniencies), the very thing that EJF would presumably not want since it places itself on the pinnacle of Halachic perfection.

    Another very troubling self-claim is that it invokes and relies as it's Halachic supporters upon notable true Halachic authorities whose rulings and opinions on such matters are complex and need to be judged and evaluated by truly great Torah scholars beyond the scope of what EJF can claim or offer.

    So when the EJF website concludes on
    http://www.eternaljewishfamily.org/about.htm
    and while EJF is free to claim that it has the support of "...Harav Yosef Sholom Eliyashuv shlit"a, Harav Shmuel Wosner shlit"a, Harav Reuven Feinstein shlit"a, as well as leading Sephardic authorities shlit"a" all of whom are alive Baruch H-shem and all of whom should be respectfully questioned about their views and alleged backing for EJF, yet it is absurd for EJF to claim in the same paragraph that it also has the support of deceased Torah luminaries: "To assure that all conversions are based on the authentic dictates of Torah and halacha, the Eternal Jewish Family follows the halachic guidelines of such noted Torah authorities as Harav Moshe Feinstein zt"l, Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt"l..." when Rav Moshe Feinstein passed away in 1986 and Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach passed away in 1995 -- and the EJF was only set up in 2005 more than two decades after Rav Moshe's petirah and more than a decade after Rav Shlomo Zalman has left this world -- and to add insult to injury -- EJF uses prominent color photos of those two late Gedolim in ads promoting the EJF's work.

    If that is the case then the EJF may as well add photos of any Gadol who is not around and who left a photo album of pictures of himself and whose Halachic responsa (a very tricky field of Torah learning) and other works they have tendentiously mined for self-approval when objectively none really exists.

    This is all part of the troubling deception, double-speak, the smoke and mirrors, and the PR that EJF is using to position itself and straddle the worlds of geirus, batei din, kiruv, frum life, Israeli policy, and who knows maybe control of the Torah world (will Rabbi Tropper become "His Excellency, Chairman-Secretary General Tropper" then?), in "masters of the universe" style so common to corporate raiders and titans as they seek to corner markets, marginalize the opposition, outspend and out advertize their opponents, in the vain desire to influence and shape the face of G-d's world, in this case it being the face of Klal Yisroel as they claim to want to streamline the process of conversion when nobody asked for their help (it's a self-appointed task and mission, and sure, when lots of money is waved around in carrot and stick fashion, many fish will bite the carrot, to mix a metaphor!) with the stated purpose to "help" non-Jews become Jews en masse in the name of "higher standards" -- a very dangerous and reckless undertaking when all things are said and done.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dear Recipients and publicity,

    You said:

    "the comparison of Nefesh BeNefesh to EJF seems to be nothing more than a red herring argument to distract from the central questions and doubts surrounding EJF"
    I am sorry, I really just figured that while anyone was listening I would mention EVERYTHING I worry about.

    In my opinion, you are 100% right about EJF and you state your concerns very eloquently and thoroughly.

    I also believe that while this blog has become dedicated to the problems concerning EJF, it is NOT the problem but merely a symptom of a greater problem which is the assimilation of Christian doctrine and values into even the most Haredi sectors of American Judaism.

    Rabbi Eliezer Papo ztl, warned against "settling in Christian cities lest they follow in their ways". (Pele Yoetz under "Galut") because "Even though there is still an element of exile in Moslem countries........ people are modest and moral."

    Please do not misunderstand me, I am NOT advocating emigration to Saudi Arabia, but proselytizing and evangelizing are NOT Jewish or Muslim practices, only Christian.

    One more item as "food for thought":

    I had a basement shop in my home. The busiest times, naturally were Adar and Elul when everyone buys for their families for Yom Tov. My customers were all haredim; that was the merchandise I sold.

    About ten years ago, the pre Yom Tov business was really slow, actually non existent. I figured that I had lost the bracha for retail, but the "Hanukkah" rush was astounding. I did more business that December than I had in the previous three years together.

    I called around to other women I knew who ran "basements" catering to haredi families in other US cities and they told me that their experiences were the same. Even the sheital companies now have "end of the year" sales instead of "after Yom Tov" sales and the Rebbes in the US yeshivas expect Hanukkah gelt instead of "Purim gifts to help for Pesach".

    ReplyDelete
  5. After all your rantings about the EJF, do you know who *really* converted aguiar? Let's 'see yo'u' have the decency to attack those who actually converted the goy? You will not, because you are NOT interested to fight phony conversions; you are interested to score points with tropper over pasts grievances!. Therefore we will not hear from you attackall those mass factories conversions for money (like the one who ACTUALLY converted aguiar)!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Recipients and PublicityFebruary 25, 2008 at 1:11 PM

    A Deeper Look at the current EJF Website and Troubling Issues it Raises:

    Here we have an organization that has taken upon itself one of the most responsible jobs, geirus, and one would think that in inviting prospective clients (primarily gentiles married to Jews) its website would go beyond mere platitudes and generalities.

    With all the tens of millions of dollars already pumped into EJF and its events, one would think that they would have not only a state of the art website up and running but that it would also offer complete transparency of who are the ones selling the goods.

    Sure, the logo on top of each page proclaims that EJF is a "[Star of David that is almost an Israeli army-look-alike with the sword and olive leaves in the center] Eternal Jewish Family: THE LILLIAN JEAN KAPLAN JEWISH PRIDE THROUGH EDUCATION PROJECT" but has absolutely no listing of staff or who will be taking care of applicants once they apply on the blank automated fill-in "application" page at http://www.eternaljewishfamily.org/application.htm

    The only rabbis mentioned are on the expanded "about" page at http://www.eternaljewishfamily.org/about.htm Two being deceased (Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l and Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt"l). Three alive, but two, very, very old and living in Israel: Rav Yosef Sholom Eliyashuv (born 1910) and Rav Shmuel Wosner (born 1913), with only a somewhat younger Rav Reuven Feinstein from America named in its history.

    So in effect, the two deceased rabbis cannot be cited as "mashgichim" of any sort and the two much older rabbis from Israel cannot be "mashgichim" of what goes on in EJF either. So that leaves Rabbi Reuven Feinstein, who is very close with EJF's sole rabbi, the energized Rabbi Tropper and probably his main rabbinic ally.

    So, just going by EJF's own website, there is no real known halachic supervisor (besides the omniscient Rabbi Tropper) to oversee who EJF is taking under its wings and preparing for conversions!

    This is alarming because Rabbi Reuven Feinstein has his hands full running his large yeshiva MTJ on Staten Island, in NYC, and he has so many other duties such as attending Agudath Israel of America meetings, being mesader kiddushin at many people's weddings, and attending all sorts of functions. It is hard to imagine that he is personally intervieing each EJF applicant. Indeed, the same applies to Rabbi Tropper. He is a Rosh Yeshiva and he must be at his Yeshiva Kol Yaakov. He gives many guest lectures all over the USA. He has to raise funds (well maybe less now that the Dr. Tom Kaplan is taking this burdern off his shoulders) and it cannot be that he has the time to thoroghly screen each and every potential convert.

    Rabbi Tropper may want and wish and think that he is probably at this time *trying* to keep his finger in every applicant's process because the situation is a bit dicy with the BADATZ having come out openly against him and the EJF and all it would take is for one phoney conversion process that EJF helped to blow up in his face and that would in turn blow his whole EJF dream out of the water. No-one said this would be easy.

    Anyhow, coming back to the EJF website. Here are some issues to consider (as of February 25th, '08):

    *No mention of staff. Even on the "about us" page.

    *No mention of who is on the Board of Directors, if indeed there is one.

    *No mention of a rabbinical advisory board. In fact not even Rabbi Leib Tropper, the rabbi most behind this effort is mentioned.

    *No mention of what type of organization this is. Is it a USA 501 (c) 3 IRS approved not-for-profit charity? Does it take donations from the public? If Madonna the singer who is in with the Kabbalah Center sent EJF or the Lillian Jean Kpalan Foundation a big donation (to help converts, like her maybe, as she took on the Jewish name of "Esther") would anyone know if it was either accepted or, more hopefully, rejected? In fact who donates to EJF and keeps it going? Is it a different kind of private foundation? Is it an ancillary of the "Lillian Jean Kaplan Foundation" or what is its legal status *exactly* in the USA so that its records and files can be examined such as all such entities are according to USA, FOI (Freedom Of Information) rules allow.

    *A link to "horizons.edu" which in turn links to a dead link for Yeshiva Kol Yaakov (what does that mean, that there is "nothing" at the center of all this, or that the center does not wish to be linked to its misbegotten step-child?) but on the horizons.edu link there is no real information about that organization either, just platitudes about how great Rabbi Tropper is (self-praise is no recommendation, the saying goes) and links to past Kol Yaakov Yeshiva newsletters with more articles by Rabbi Tropper and notes from grateful students, and oh yes, Kol Yaakov will be opening a branch in Yerushalayim soon and, naturally, Rabbi Tropper will be the Rosh Yeshiva (he wears many hats) and he will be making frequent trans-continental hops back and forth. So again, when does he have time to run EJF and screen the many candidates for conversion? (And note again, that the link to the heart of Rabbi Tropper's world, the Kol Yaakov Yeshiva, does not work and says nothing.)

    *On the horizons.edu page "ask the rabbi" page, there is just a seforim shrank picture http://www.horizons.edu/askrabbi.htm (typical, does that mean that one will commune with those deceased rabbis inside the seforim to get an answer?) and on the "lectures" page http://www.horizons.edu/lectures.htm there is a photo of Rabbi Tropper but not his name, it says: "Coming Soon" -- hopefully it will not be "the second coming" either!

    *The "Batei Din List" is perhaps the most troubling page of all http://www.eternaljewishfamily.org/bateidinlist.htm as looking at the whole page one sees: First the "[Star of David that is almost an Israeli army-look-alike with the sword and olive leaves in the center] Eternal Jewish Family: THE LILLIAN JEAN KAPLAN JEWISH PRIDE THROUGH EDUCATION PROJECT" and then "EJF Approved Batei Din - List of EJF Approved Batei Din" and it states that: "The following batei din are known to EJF to be using universally accepted standards.
    We would like to note that EJF does not perform conversions but works with existing batei din that are operating with the standards that have been handed to us by Gedolei Torah"

    Fine mumbo-jumbo, and how would a prospective convert who knows very little about Yiddishkeit have any context to make sense of such a statement, like "they do, but they don't"! Very confusing and confused, and no doubt deliberately so. BUT at no point on the website is anyone told WHO exactly did, and does, the ongoing checking of the Batei Din and "approving" their standards. Who in fact is the "Executive Director" in the EJF office that does the work and who helps him get his job done. Is there no staff or is it a mix of EJF/Horizons/Kol Yaakov Yeshiva"/Rabbi Tropper's study&home&cell? Who are his assitants, and hopefully EJF is run by a "he", because a "she" has no ne'emanus in a beis din, sorry it's just a rule of halacha that beis din has to follow.

    The list is impressive and as of Feb 25, '08 there are 14 of them one being in Israel and one in Canada. So 12 are in the USA. But who and when and where the "hechsherim" given to these batei din? Does EJF issue a written "seal of approval" that a prospective convert must and should obtain upon request a copy of from these batei din? And indeed, do Batei Din need "hechsherim" from another source especially one like EJF that is NOT a beis din itself, not a Jewishly or Halachically recognized religious body or council of any sort, that does not even state who its rabbis are, besides Rabbi Tropper, and those it deems to approve of its founding, the two late deceased rabbis, two very old ones in Israel and one American Rosh Yeshiva.

    This is deception and geneivas da'as of the highest order.

    What is this? Leitzonus and an insult to intelligence? An organization has the chutzpah to "evaluate" and "judge" and publicise batei din and does not say which rabbis it has on staff who have done this and who anyone can talk to (besides Rabbi Tropper of course).

    Dumbfounding and one wonders why the listed batei din are going along with this, and hopefully it's not because they want donations from Tom Kaplan because that would be shochad...and it is hard to stop thinking when the EJF does not spell out who it uses and who it has on call, not just in Rabbi Tropper's rolodex, but objective outside Rabbonim, and EJF can trumpet is that rivers of money are flowing from the coffers of the "Lillian Jean Kaplan" Foundation to EJF which then sets itself up as the "supreme council" of which batei din are good or not. To repeat, this is chutzpah in motion!

    Here is the complete list of batie din on the EJF website:

    Name, Rabbi and Telephone number:

    *Beis Din of Yerushalayim: Rabbi Nachum Eisenstein 011-972-225-322047

    *Beis Din of Monsey: Rabbi Pinchus Rabinowitz 845-425-1315

    *Beis Din of Philadelphia: Rabbi Aharon Felder 215-745-2968

    *Beis Din Merkaz HaRabbanim: Rabbi Moshe Soloveitchik 312-543-3945

    *Beis Din of Cleveland: Rabbi Yisroel Grumer 216-321-5002

    *Beis Din of New York: Rabbi Yisroel Dov Webster 718-236-9244

    *Beis Din of RCC- Los Angeles: Rabbi Avraham Union 213-389-3382 ext 13

    *Beis Din of Milwaukee: Rabbi Mendel Senderovic 414-234-8635

    *Beis Din of Montreal, Canada: Rabbi Yonoson Binyomin Weiss 514-739-6363

    *Beis Din of Miami: Rabbi Mendel Senderovic 414-234-8635 (Rabbi Senderovic is also listed above for Beis Din of Milwaukee. Is he an itinerant dayan?)

    *Beis Din of Lakewood: Rabbi Dov Kahan 732-905-59220

    *Beis Din of Dallas: Rabbi Yerachmiel Fried 214-987-3282

    *Beis Din of Houston: Rabbi Yehoshua Wender 713-729-8870

    *Beis Din of Cincinnati: Rabbi Zelig Scharfstein 513-731-4671

    A quick look at these batei din will show that some are very new and function under the auspices of Litvishe yeshivishe rabbis mosly from "out-of-town" (i.e. outside of the main centers of Torah life) in communities tied to out-of-town rabbis and kollelim involved or tied in with kiruv rechokim. It even looks like it's a system of "kiruv-related batei din" designed to help the spouses and or partners of people who are getting into Yiddishkeit through kiruv programs to obtain conversions for their non-Jewish spouses/partners.

    This is all very worrying, especially since the EJF website has said that in combination with Rabbi Tropper's "Horizons" outreach efforts, EJF will function as a kiruv/conversion effort and it sure looks as if Rabbi Tropper and EJF have lined up a series of Batei Din (except for Rabbi Eisenstein's in Eretz Yisroel -- a more complex effort -- that should not have gotten involved with EJF and will hopefully still break its ties with EJF now that the BADATZ has come out against the EJF) that will work with EJF's and Rabbi Tropper's goals of "kiruv and geirus" now set to march in "lock-step" and being a very radical departure from classical kiruv and from the autinimous of batei din, theta are now sold and depicted as "single-issue" batei din, in effect a "conglomorate geirus factory with local sub-divions" instead of the classical approach of allowing potential geirim to FIND THEIR OWN WAY without outside help from EJF or anyone to deal with each case on its merits and NOT as part of a greater and broader strategic scheme to help non-Jews get converted for their Jewish spouses and partners in kiruv programs. The Halacha has always been to ACTIVELY DISCOURAGE geirim, that is the din, and to allow the DIVINE Hashgocha to take its own route and that if it is bashert for a goy to become a ger tzedek then leave it to H-shen to show the way, so that there is no need for active organizations in this field that are mimicking the Reform policy of welcoming all and sundry non-Jews as a "solution" to assimilation, intermarriage or any other population challenge or self-inflicted human tragedies.

    No wonder Rabbi Tropper and the EJF website is not saying who the active rabbinical board (if there even is one) is and who is giving them *their* hechsher now. But one thing we do know now, they do NOT have the hechsher of the BADATZ but to the contrary the BADATZ has pasulled (negated) them and has called upon any rabbis who assiciate with EJF to wihdraw from them.

    Hopefully the BADATZ has also sent its letter asking rabbis to withdraw to the 14 honorable batei din and its rabbis listed by EJF on its website list and hopefully too the rabbonim and dayonim on that list will respect the BADATZ as much as, hopefully more than, they respect the secular-funded and mysteriously run EJF with its meaningless endorsements of batei din yet.

    To allow a non-Halachic organization, in the sense that it itself says that it does not do coversions and it's just a "project" of the "Lillian Jean Kaplan} Foundation, to not just give mere opinions but to actually "approve" and sit in judgment as a de facto "ubber-beis din" of other batei din, is a perilous and dangerous situation for any Torah-studying, Halacha-observant, beis din-respecting Jew!

    ReplyDelete

ANONYMOUS COMMENTS WILL NOT BE POSTED!
please use either your real name or a pseudonym.