Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The crisis is now. It is worse than you imagined!

Jersey Girl wrote:

Dear RaP,

Thank you for responding to my post. I must admit that my family have become quite fond of your "blog persona".

A few things I would like to discuss a bit more however:

1."even intermarried Jews identify as Jews. "

This is the problem. We have LOTS of Goyim running around with Jewish sounding surnames. Many identify with Reform and some identify with Orthodox. Many will marry other Jews. This is an intermarriage no different than any other.

It has been estimated by some Orthodox Rabbis that as many as HALF of all ORTHODOX affiliated families in the US are personally affected by the Rabbinute's recent decisions regarding Diaspora conversions. The conversions that are being rejected are those that were done to permit intermarriage, most often a Jewish man and a Gentile woman. The Gentile children and grandchildren of these men can never convert according to many Rabbis.

This poses a HUGE problem for Rabbi X's daughter who is married to a young man, one of a large family, all of whom attended yeshiva but whose maternal grandmother is an Episcopalian. The parents thought "it will just be our little secret" when the mother put on a sheital and enrolled her kids in a black hat yeshiva.

Now there are two Rabbis whose daughters are married to these Goyim (no conversion by anyone) and one of their daughters is a Rebbetzin. Three of the marriages in that family have already been annulled. Now what happens to the young ladies who find out that they have to divorce the Gentile husbands they have been deceived into marrying and the children they will have to raise alone? What about the young men who will have to pay child support for the next 18 years for Gentile children that they were deceived into fathering?

I am personally close to FOUR families who are now facing this because their frum children married people who are not Jewish k'halacha, who are not Jewish in Israel and who are not eligible to convert to become a Jew in Israel.

(One of these is my youngest brother, another my cousin and two others are Rabbis with whom our family is close. Additionally I know two other Rabbis whose children's marriages were recently annulled because they found out during the Sheva Brachot that the spouse was a Gentile).


2. The majority of religious young men all go to work.

Please give them my contact info. Rabbi Eidensohn has it. I have a house full of daughters to marry off and it is enough that we support our own family let alone several more. So far all of the young men I am getting from the shadchanim only want to be supported whether or not they are learning.

3. "secular families must budget even more for the college education of their kids".

We have to pay to educate ours too whether they learn in Israel, go to college or continue in Yeshiva.

4."Rabbi Eidensohn is doing "whistle blowing leshem shomayim" and asking the kind of questions many people have in the backs of their minds when they come across the topic of EJF"

For sure, but I bet that if the Kaplans find out about who the Bedatz is and why they assured EJF they will be inclined to spend more on panthers and kidney disease (please its in my family too) and less on proselytizing Gentiles married to Jews. That would CERTAINLY cut into Rav Tropper's "bread" and "butter".

5. "you are getting caught up with and flying away with your own rhetoric".

You are right, I am sorry and please forgive me. My yetzer hara won out and I started to enjoy myself a little too much with the Godfather lines. I am sadly guilty of lowering the bar on this blog and will leave it to you RaP to restore the dialogue to the honorable and scholarly level it had previously attained. I will reserve my childish jokes for my children who would like me to put them to sleep right now.

Thank you again for everything you have been teaching us by contributing to this blog.

4 comments :

  1. Recipients and PublicityMarch 5, 2008 at 9:22 PM

    Hi Jersey girl:

    Please do not stop being yourself, when I wrote that you were getting "caught up with and flying away with your own rhetoric" I was referring to the way you take out the hatchet against some types of conversions, which is not what we are battling here, because no-one can negate what the Torah itself allows, and that is that the Torah commands Jews to love gerim and thus it means that we are to welcome and love genuine gerim kehalachah.

    By the way, no doubt, the pro-EJF posters and readers and Rav Tropper are happy and delighted that we are now talking with each other instead of focusing on them and their shenanigans, but you were stating things that needed to be corrected as well, and I hope that you took that in the right spirit. So please, keep up your vigil and add your comments with full force, there was no intention of censoring or curtailing anything you were saying, just pointing out some key alternatives.

    Responses below to your full post start with "RaP":

    Jersey Girl wrote:

    Dear RaP,

    Thank you for responding to my post. I must admit that my family have become quite fond of your "blog persona".

    RaP: Sure, it's free too!

    A few things I would like to discuss a bit more however:

    1."even intermarried Jews identify as Jews. "

    This is the problem. We have LOTS of Goyim running around with Jewish sounding surnames.

    RaP: Ok, but, you know, let them run around. This problem has been obvious and known for a long time. In fact it started before Jews started marrying gentiles in droves. It started when the millions of Jews hit Ellis Island and were either given Americanized names or they or their kids chose to change their surnames to non-Jewish sounding names even as they kept on marrying Jews. So Jews are used to being on guard and not taking any name on face value. When I mentioned checking out names, the process I was referring to was a more serious one, that when one sits down to ask the tough questions -- and this must be done before any serious relationship starts -- then zeroing-in on the names of families will almost definitely yield results. This is like doing a cheap pregnancy test that you can buy at a local pharmacy rather than doing a more expensive lab test ordered by a doctor. The test from the pharmacy works just as well 99.99% of the time. So asking questions about names and where people came from will yield key personal information. And again, in America (not talking about Sephardim now who are by nature cagey) but the average liberal-minded secular or Reform Jew is almost always an honest, open and truthful person. Their "religion" is truly ethical liberalism and they take it seriously. This may be hard to accept for Oriental and Eastern European Jews raised under tyrannies of all sorts. They generally will not lie and cheat, they pay all their taxes etc etc, and therefore if one knows how to do this, and experienced kiruv workers can do this blidfolded, it is very easy to know about any person's background. Ask names, the countries gradparents came from, maiden names, towns they were born in, all this is not forgotten, someone knows it in every family, and within a short time you will know if the person in front of you is a Halachic Jew or not. This is not a five minute deal. It may take time. Think of it like buying a house when they do the title search and all the paper-work, it takes time.

    Many identify with Reform and some identify with Orthodox. Many will marry other Jews. This is an intermarriage no different than any other.

    RaP: Not really, you are mixing up the final defintion of end-situtions with the different roads that led up to the seemingly similar results.

    It has been estimated by some Orthodox Rabbis that as many as HALF of all ORTHODOX affiliated families in the US are personally affected by the Rabbinute's recent decisions regarding Diaspora conversions.

    RaP: You are being alarmist, and while what you say may be true, most-people are still carrying on happily with life. Statistics for these kind of things are hard to come by. Most of what we are seeing and hearing is from circumstantial evidence or hearsay. This is an unfolding drama. No-one knows where it will end. In the meantime, while the rabbanut rabbis in Israel are tooting their horns, the Israeli government is letting in thousands of refugees via Sinai from Sudan and Somalia and other hot-spots in Africa (they want to show how Israel is "humanitarian" as the IDF kills Hamas terrorists day and night) and no-one is saying much of anything as the Israeli government makes plans to bring a few thousand more supposed "Falashas" to Israel. These people will present more of a challenge to Israeli society than the people that you are describing who are caught up in their own soap-opera lives. Not to be demeaning, but they sound like very shallow and gullible people if they can fall victim to so many con-artist jobs. People who are spoiled tend to think that no harm will ever befall them and that they are living a charmed life. Well sorry, sometimes their own rabbis and friends will be cheated (cheat them?) and even the rabbis are not functioning as they should with total vigilance. After all we are finding out about Orthodox rabbis being accused of being pedophiles, womanizers, and whatnot, so what is this compared to that?

    The conversions that are being rejected are those that were done to permit intermarriage, most often a Jewish man and a Gentile woman. The Gentile children and grandchildren of these men can never convert according to many Rabbis.

    RaP: Hold it right there. Do not take on the role of a posek. There is most definitely a minority Halachic view that such conversions can be valid. That is not even a question. So that while many Orthodox rabbis may not accept it, some Orthodox rabbis do, and that is all that counts. You can't make everyone happy. After all, Chasidic kids are taught that any Yid who does not dress or talk Yiddish like them is a literal "goy" so does that mean that everyone must now salute them and take on being Chasidic? Most certainly not! The ONLY question of concern that is the main issue is that such allowances become dangerous when they are "commercialized" and "mass produced" and even "mass engendered" which is a very dangerous thing for Klal Yisroel.

    This poses a HUGE problem for Rabbi X's daughter who is married to a young man, one of a large family, all of whom attended yeshiva but whose maternal grandmother is an Episcopalian. The parents thought "it will just be our little secret" when the mother put on a sheital and enrolled her kids in a black hat yeshiva.

    RaP: Well, life is always stranger than fiction. But wait a minute, what was she thinking when she put on that sheitel? Did she still go to church secretly (like a reverse Marrano?) or was this a genuine act on her part to join the Jewish people? HOW IS SHE DIFFERENT TO RUTH THE MOABITE WHO TRAILED BOAZ UNTIll SHE HAD HIS BABY FROM WHICH MASHIACH WILL COME? Who was her husband? Didn't anyone else in the family notice what she was doing? Where did these people come from? There is a CLEAR lack of leadership going on here. If you need someone to help you with this let me know and I will give you my contact info. But what you guys are missing is that "it takes a thief to catch a thief" and that is why it sounds like a bunch of naive rabbis and people are being taken for the rides of their lives or are becoming the victims of their own egos, perhaps even too much reliance "kabbalistic" advice, or perhaps too much misapplication of "not speaking loshen hora" when this system is used to stifle free inquiry for life's purposes like for finding and checking up on people to marry -- duh!, and not enough reliance on sechel and independent thinking and research. You know, look at how hard those people who want to be regarded as Anusim do their work, they go to some dude in Paris and he "researches" their lineage for up to ten generations and he then finds "proofs" that they are from Marranos. So why not hire that guy and a dozen more like him to check the background of every prospective bride and groom in your community? Then you will not have surprises like finding out that "Bubby" was really an Episcopalian (with real WASP yichus, wow! --nvere know, she may be the nest Ruth the Moabite -- oh sorry -- the SYs wouldn't let one of their "holy" Jews (with three mistresses yet, marry a Moabite, even if Mashiach would come from such a union.)

    Now there are two Rabbis whose daughters are married to these Goyim (no conversion by anyone) and one of their daughters is a Rebbetzin. Three of the marriages in that family have already been annulled. Now what happens to the young ladies who find out that they have to divorce the Gentile husbands they have been deceived into marrying and the children they will have to raise alone? What about the young men who will have to pay child support for the next 18 years for Gentile children that they were deceived into fathering?

    RaP: This sounds wild. Each and every case must be carefully examined and needs its won dichotomy, beyond the scope of this blog. But why is it hopeless? Just contact an Orthodox rabbi who says that a gentile can convert even though they are married to a Jew. It is allowed according to some and it can be done. Or are you a Sephardic do-or-die (hard) and your Sephardic rules are coming back to haunt you, so that: (a) Ne gerim accepted, (b) No conversions of getiles married to Jews, and therefore (c) No marriages of gerim to Jews allowed and (d) No marriages of gentiles to a Jewish spouse after the gentile spouse has converted to Judaism. -- And if that is what you are saying, then you only have yourself to blame for all the trouble you are describing because there are ways out of it, maybe you need to think of adopting and follooing a more lenient Orthodox Ashkenazi rabbi who can truly help you and your community. This is the time when you should call Rav Reuven and Rav Dovid Feinstein, or Rav Dovid Kohen in Flatbush. These rabbis do not belkong to Rabbi Tropper or anyone. They belong to all of Klal Yisrael. They will help you solve all these problems rather than all the disgraceful, wasteful, self-induced horrible blood-letting that you are describing here -- for the humiliations these people are enduring in this way is like shedding their blood, some in suicide fashion, or worse. After all, even Rabbi Eidensohn has had the intellectual honesty and integrity to post the Halachic views of those who are lenient in these situtions, even though they do have their perils and he does not hold from them, but one cannot reject the rulings of key rabbonim who have written and ruled to allow the leniencies.

    I am personally close to FOUR families who are now facing this because their frum children married people who are not Jewish k'halacha, who are not Jewish in Israel and who are not eligible to convert to become a Jew in Israel.

    RaP: You are confusing a number of issues, and it's a bad tendency to conflate related yet separate issues: (1) If someone marries a person who is not Jewish kehalacha they have choices. They are NOT trapped as mentioned above. (2) What do you mean "not Jewish in Israel"? To be in Israel you do NOT need a religion. Their are Muslims, Bahais, Atheists and Christians in Israel, so you are veering to hysteria on this point. And (3) If they are "not eligible to convert to become a Jew in Israel" so maybe H-shenm is telling them that there place is not Israel. But seriously, take this one step at a time. View it as a huge HUMAN problem first and foremost. If two people love each other and have built a life together, they will find a solution to their dilemmas. Even a mamzer can find a way to have his descendants cease being mamzerim in Halachah. The rabbis of the rabbanut are not ruling Israel like the Ayatolas in Iran (not yet, anyhow) and there are other rabbis and ways to get help. Rabbis outside of Israel still have a powerful say and voice, don't kid yourself! Don't gasp or faint: Maybe you should contact the EJF, since the cases you mention here sound just up their alley. And I am not being funny either. If you want to help these people, and they are a lot more shtark than the people EJF works with, then you should use EJF's services whilst it is still around and while they are still functioning, and get the help you need for these tragic cases, instead of ending with conclusions of "off with their heads" like the mad queen in Alice in Wonderland. At any rate, the bottom line is, that just because there are debates going on, until Mashiach comes, no-one, not Sephardi rabbis and not the Israeli rabbanut can slam the door in the face of ANY type of sincere converts from ANY type of situation. Where there is life, there is hope! P.S. In "war" lehavidl, if one is taken captive and injured, then according to the Geneva Conventions the "enemy" must also give care to injured captured prisoners. And since in the rules of war it is allowed, we see that in life and certainly in Halachah it is not forbidden "chas vesholom" to seek the help of an opponent's beth din when such a beth din may hold the solution to the problem. This is not hypocrisy. This is knowing that Halachah is never a rigid straight-jacket but it is more of a life-jacket! So while EJF may be part of a policy dispute between rabbis and part of a broader klal problem with conversion being debated and addressed, and helping with mass conversions is that main criticism against EJF, but it can perhaps help individuls like the ones caught up in the tzures you are describing until such time that it becomes defunct, which it is not at this time. Do not let "frumkeit" get the better of you and destroy your life and the lives of those around you.

    (One of these is my youngest brother, another my cousin and two others are Rabbis with whom our family is close. Additionally I know two other Rabbis whose children's marriages were recently annulled because they found out during the Sheva Brachot that the spouse was a Gentile).

    RaP: None of this makes sense. In Judaism no marriage is "annulled" because (a) If both parties were Jewish they would need an official get to divorce and (b) if one party was not Jewish then there is no kiddushin that takes effect and hence no "marriage" happened and no get is required. A civil divorce in court may be required if the marriage was registered with the civil authorities. So what this "annullment" is, is a puzzle. But again, you are describing a chaotic scene where people are being tricked left and right which makes one doubt what kind of community this is. Maybe it's time for you to relocate to a better community.

    2. The majority of religious young men all go to work.

    Please give them my contact info. Rabbi Eidensohn has it. I have a house full of daughters to marry off and it is enough that we support our own family let alone several more. So far all of the young men I am getting from the shadchanim only want to be supported whether or not they are learning.

    RaP: Find other shadchanim. And hey, what is so bad if you got an eidel Talmid Chochem who was provably 100% Jewish for your daughter and would make her happy. Kollel husbnads make great partners. They are more domesticated and available than "masters of the universe" Wall Street shark types. Not only won't have you have to worry about annuling your daughter's marriage, but maybe at last he would bring H-shem's blessings of Torah truth and honesty that your community seems to so desperately to need. Forget your prejudices and start becoming open minded, in good way of course. It's a new world now, and be happy that the cream of Charedi Jewry's young men and many other Orthodox young guyswant to learn Torah (would you be happier if they were all running to Hollywood or to Ashrams?) because Jews are a Torah Nation first and foremost. As Rav Avigdor Miller zt"l used to teach, that the "national occupation" of the Jewish people is learning Torah.

    3. "secular families must budget even more for the college education of their kids".

    We have to pay to educate ours too whether they learn in Israel, go to college or continue in Yeshiva.

    RaP: Ok, but this was not meant as a put-down, just that the normal respectable American Middle Class everywhere is facing huge pressures too.

    4."Rabbi Eidensohn is doing "whistle blowing leshem shomayim" and asking the kind of questions many people have in the backs of their minds when they come across the topic of EJF"

    For sure, but I bet that if the Kaplans find out about who the Bedatz is and why they assured EJF they will be inclined to spend more on panthers and kidney disease (please its in my family too) and less on proselytizing Gentiles married to Jews. That would CERTAINLY cut into Rav Tropper's "bread" and "butter".

    RaP: It is almost certain that Tom Kaplan knows who the BADATZ is and knows full well what is going on and that he and Rav Tropper read every post here and keep track of what is being said about them and EJF and that nevertheless they are pressing ahead with their project and ideas simply because they believe in them. While Rav Tropper is an ambitious guy with a colorful and controversial past, Tom Kaplan is a straight shooter with pure ideals who wants to help the world and the Jews and while he may respect other Charedi rabbis, such as on the BADATZ, he has his vision of what he wishes to accomplish. The problem is that assisting mass conversions to Judaism via EJF is a huge problem and that it even runs counter to the anti-inclusionist rabbis such Rav Eliashic and Rav Eisenstein citwed as support by EJF and who do not share Tom Kaplan's inclusionistic "tikkun olam" Utopian visions.

    5. "you are getting caught up with and flying away with your own rhetoric".

    You are right, I am sorry and please forgive me. My yetzer hara won out and I started to enjoy myself a little too much with the Godfather lines. I am sadly guilty of lowering the bar on this blog and will leave it to you RaP to restore the dialogue to the honorable and scholarly level it had previously attained. I will reserve my childish jokes for my children who would like me to put them to sleep right now.

    Thank you again for everything you have been teaching us by contributing to this blog.

    RaP: sure, You are welcome. Do not feel inhibited. The goal was not to cramp your or anyone else's style chas vesholom. On the contrary, feel free to be honest yet diplomatic, frank discussions as the diplomats call it. Only if we are honest and open and do not stifle each other can we learn from each other.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Maybe you should contact the EJF, since the cases you mention here sound just up their alley."

    I think that is the problem with EJF, that is that they kasher intermarriages.

    "Maybe it's time for you to relocate to a better community."

    My accidentally intermarried brother was is in Brooklyn and now Manhattan. My sister and sisters in law live in Lakewood. My parents and another brother live at the Shore and my in laws moved to Monsey.

    My cousin (tricked into an intermarriage) lived in Boro Park as does my other cousin who tells me half of the shidduchim recommended for her children are Gentile.

    We have lived in NY, LA and Miami because of my husband's business. I have another cousin in Baltimore who tells me it is the same there.

    Please do tell me WHERE it is different?

    I think that the answer to that question is that it is different in the place where you have not lived long enough to know anyone!

    RaP, the crisis IS now and it IS worse than ANY of us imagined!!! I am sorry to say.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am sorry, my health insurance INCLUDING maternity is $1500 USD per month, not an additional $1500, per month.

    We actually dropped our $500 per month maternity coverage last year because it seemed unlikely that we would have another child.

    Guess what?

    B"H we were recently blessed with an uninsured but healthy baby.

    We were not able to buy maternity coverage once expecting for less than that cost of paying cash for prenatal care and delivery.

    "For all the surprises in your life, there is Visa Card".

    ReplyDelete
  4. Rabbi Gil Student on the "Conversion Consensus"


    http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/

    Muy Interesante (very interesting).

    ReplyDelete

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