Friday, September 12, 2008

Anusim III - Not Jews without full conversion

Recipients and Publicity's comment to "Anusim II - Demand recognition and acceptance":

Hi Even Ezer Garcia:

Thank you for your response and the points you make. Allow me to respond with my comments beginning with "RaP":
"I am sorry for my previous posting. This is a very emotional subject for me, my family, and many others in the same situation."
RaP: I understand. All people have emotional issues in their lives and so do nations and communities. The challenge, especially on a blog like this is to keep one's cool and rely on facts, reality, reason and logic. That is the best we can do and I try yo practice this as much as possible even though I have many emotional volcanos inside of me too. Both my parents were Holocaust survivors and they lost much of their family to the Nazis. They struggled much after the war too. I have lived in Israel and other tough environments in my youth and I have had to face serious challenges to prove myself to others. So I can identify with you.
"I absolutely agree with you that a person needs to go before a reliable Beth Dim in other to be recognized as a Jew, and this is true in regard of the Anusim."
Rap: That is very good and it is key because many people and secular-leaning institutions involved in this saga of Anusim and "hidden Jews" do not realize that because the Anusim families and ancestors have been cut off from organized formal and yes even halachic communities, that for hundreds of years. After all Jews were finally kicked out of Spain in 1492 in the Inquisition that started this whole Anusim chapter in Jewish history, and that was OVER 500 years so it is important to keep perspective, and to have reliable standrds for Jewish identity, and thus far noone has ever discovered a better method for that than Jewish Law (Halacha) itself and it is to the Halacha, as derived from the Torah given by God Himself and as applied by the leading Rabbinic Sages of the ages.

And essentially 99.99% of all the peresent rabbinic sages maintain that today's so-called Anusim and long hidden Jews must undergo a valid conversion because the Halacha does not regard them as valid Jews until they do. I am not making this up. In the first wave of Jewish survivors after the expulsion from Spain, in the times of the holy ARI (1534-1572) and the author of the Shulchan Aruch the blessed Rav Yosef Karo (1488-1577) they had started to deal with the problem of Jews out of fear for their lives and then genuinely wished to return to practicing Judaism aand all its mitzvot and they welcomed them, but the important difference between now and then is that at that time people knew exactly who their parents and grandapents were while today more than 500 years later that job is literally impossible (even by searching old archives in Spain and Portugal as some claim they do) with people who claim to be Ansuim having lived as active Catholics for 500 years and not out of fear because many Jews, some historians claim it was the majority that went over to the Cathloics willingly and married to gentiles and that only the minority left and even a smaller number hid as Marranos and this happened many times over in many generations marrying gentiles but keeping up a few ancient rites that became more cultural relics than religious acts (like the beerfests in the USA by Americans whose ancesors came from Geramny hundreds of years ago, or Blacks who now celebrate Quanza. So this is not uncommon in cultures and societies with mixed heritages that minorities cling to ritulas in an emotional way not knowing what they mean or wher it really comes from. And just as drinking beer does not make an American of German heritage into a citizen of modern Germany nor does the celebration of Quanza make an African-American into a citizen of Nigeria, Liberia or Gahan from where his slave ancestors came from once upon a time hauled to the Americas on slave ships.
"But we need to realize that we have in our hands a serious situation that need to be addressed with caution and sensibility.
RaP: Ok, fine, everyone realizes this. But you have to look at the situtaion in sort of legal terms, like a judge or dayan looking at a case before him in a court room or Beth Din, that is how the Talmudic system trains one and works, and not like a social worker or community politicized activist out to score points and create revolutions in society that will be utterly rejected by the Torah-observant world.
"Otherwise, we are going to be pushing away Jewish souls that we ought to bring back to our fold."
RaP: Whoa, hold it right there! Why do you assert that they are "Jewish" souls when they are not?!

They will only become Jewish souls if and when they choose to and finally become Geirei Tzedek (true converts). But this is precisely the point here, Anusim are NOT Jews, period. They may have had Jewish ancestry a long time ago but millions or tens of millions or hundreds of millions of people do and it does not make them Jewish in any way according to Jewish Law regardless of what their emotional systems tell them or self-concocted theories may be.
"Now, it is offensive when you call our traditions “obscure rituals”"
RaP: Well what else are they? And it is not meant in an offensive way either. They were only practiced in secret, upon pain of torture and death, and were not even understood by the people who practiced them either, almost like a kind of voodoo, so that because now in the age of education, the media and the Internet all people can learn about Jews and Judaism easily, if you knew every fact about that just from Wikipedia articles you would be a genius, yet the fact remains that the acts and motions as Anusim or whatver the case may be that you and others have thought makes you "connected" to Judaism had been and mostly are indeed VERY obscure to the Anusim and to the world.
"when these rituals are very alive in the Orthodox community."
RaP: So? Many things in the Islamic and Christian religion are very similar to Orthodox Judaism, and it is well known that many converts from Christianity have the same experiences as Anusim, like Christianity believes in the truth of what they call the "Old Testament" and when they discover it is what Judaism calls the Torah or Tanach and what Orthodox Judaism calls the Written Torah, they get excited. Now does that mean that about two BILLION Christians should be allowed an easy pass into Judaism were they to discover that when it comes to their Old Testament they believe the EXACT same thing that Judaism does? Even more than the Anusim who FORGOT the Torah and were forbidden to study it? Do you see the problem with your line of reasoning?
"I am not asking for a trophy for keeping these traditions for so long."
RaP: Don't worry not many people will give it to you. Others have suffered as well. No one gave Holocaust survivors "trophies" they were lucky just to survive etc.
"I am just saying that we have a valid argument,"
RaP: Not Halachically.
"and obviously this need to be study in a case by case basis."
RaP: Right. Talk to a reliable Orthodox rabbis first, then to a reliable Beth Din as each and every one of the Anusim who come forth must realize that they will be subjected to and require a full Halachic conversion no different to any gentile.
"But the bottom line is that our claims are real,
RaP: This is not about "claims" this about Jewish Law as far as the the Orthodox Rabbinate is concerned all over the worwld. What is "real" and "not "real" is a touchy point. If one accepts that Jewish Law is the first reality to satisfy then Anusim are gentiles and must convert to Judaism like any other convert. And again, I am not making this up.
"and we need to be taken seriously and with respect.
RaP: Indeed. But that does not mean you have an automatic right to become and be called a Jew which can only happen after you have confirmed as having been converted by a reliable Beth Din who will then issue you with a shtar geirut (certificate of conversion) that will finally prove to the world that you are definitely Jewish regardless of the route or sentiments that got you to that point.
"Shabbat Shalom.
Your friend, Even Ezer Garcia"
RaP: A gutten Shabbos, with sincerest wishes.


  1. RaP: Your answers were both respectful and informative. I am very impressed.

    Good Shabbos to you.

  2. Dear RaP:
    As oppose to fellow yid, I find your comments very offensive.

    This is what I would say to a person who is even ezer's situation.

    1) Congratulations for coming, congratulations to your family for keeping parts of jewish rituals over the centuries, this is really amazing.

    2) However, we have a problem, because this "indices" do not constitue sufficient proof.

    3) Therefore you should/have to undergo Tevila etc. to be fully recognised as a Jew by the jewish communities/other jews.

    4) This should not be offensive to you. It is a ceremony where you just confirm that you are ready to take upon yourself ol torah and mitzwot, and you will get a document that confirms you are jewish.

    5) Anyway, you will have to learn a lot in order to be able to keep "Ol Torah u mitzwot".

    Don't stress yourself if you do not succeed to keep everything at once.

    (By the way: there is a question about shmirat shabat in this case: if he is jewish, he is not forbidden to).

    Go by your rhythm, and once you are prepared we will do the "Giur" or "Giur lechumra".

  3. These are some of the most historically
    and halachically ill-informed opinions as well as being shortsighted and cruel.
    Rav Aaron Solovetchik wrote when asked this question: "I am taking the liberty to write about the people of the Americas who claim to be descendantsof the marranos of Spain and Portugal.They must be treated like full Jews in every way (counted for minyan, given aliyot, etc.).Only when one of these anusim wishes to marry a Jew, must she or he undergo full conversion. That is, he or she must undergo immersion in a mikveh (without the blessing) and full acceptance of the mitzvoth or commitment to the Torah"

  4. If you're quoting the alleged letter from Rav Aaron Solovetchik z"l. then you should quote it in its entirety.

    This includes the following:
    "A man, if he is uncircumcised, must in addition undergo circumcision; if he is already circumcised, then he has to undergo hatafat dam brit."

    My questions:
    How do we know that this letter is authentic?
    What is the basis of this alleged halachic position?
    A responsa is generally accompanied by supporting halachic arguments. This alleged letter, being devoid of any such references, does not contribute anything substantial to the halachic discussion, other than that Rav Aaron Solovetchik allegedly said XYZ.


please use either your real name or a pseudonym.