Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Ethiopians as Jews - 2 letters of Rav Moshe Feinstein

Concerning the status of Ethiopians as Jews - there is a teshuva printed in the Igros Moshe which refers to a previous letter on the subject. This other letter was not published in the Igros Moshe but was published in HaPardes (59:1) in 1984. There are clear differences between the two letters and it seems strange that the second letter was not included in the Igros Moshe - especially since it was addressed to Mordechai Tendler who was involved in editiing the Igros Moshe. I am publishing them both here.   HaPardes is available at Hebrew Books


  1. Can we get a translation of the two, (or alternatively a description of each letter's conclusion)?


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  3. What point are you trying to make?

    Isaac Balbin

  4. I dont see a big difference. The main thing is that he held that they must undegoe a " true conversion" before being accepted as Jews. He says it more clearly in the Sept 1984 letter.
    In the second letter he says he does not want to get involved in Israeli matters. But that in no way negates his psak that they require a full conversion.
    This weeks Mispacha magazine has a cover story on Rav Moshe. They qoute Rav Michel Shurkin who was close to him for 25 years saying on page 56 " Ethiopians,he ruled were gentiles." All in all he held that they require a full conversion but that we should be mkarev them because they were a persecuted people.

  5. Do either of the letters say "we should be mkarev them because they were a persecuted people"? If he ruled they are goyim I don't see any reason we should be "mekarev" them anymore than we should be mekarev gypsies -- another "persecuted people".


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