Sunday, January 22, 2012

RaP discusses Shavei Israel search for hidden Jews around the world

Looking at the latest postings on Shavei Israel's website; it's reach is global with direct projects geared to:

*"Bnei Anousim  http://www.shavei.org/category/communities/bnei_anousim/?lang=en  Bnei Anousim in Spain...Portugal...Brazil"

 RaP: In Brazil, no Orthodox rabbis undertake conversions and they have closed the door to this kind of thing, but Freund is not put off. Freund is staying clear of the USA -- except to get his funding and ask for more -- and Western Europe where he knows he will have to deal with strong rabbinical opposition, so he works from the Israeli front, leaving the field wide open in the USA for a variety of smaller operators of this effort, that The Jewish Press never fails to promote no matter in which synagogue or state a pro-Anusim talk or gathering may be held.

 *"Bnei Menashe http://www.shavei.org/category/communities/bnei_menashe/?lang=en ...In recent years, Shavei Israel has brought some 1,700 Bnei Menashe back home to Zion.  Another 7,200 still remain in India, waiting for the day when they too will be able to return to Israel..."

 RaP: Even the Israeli government is in no rush to have these people who are of very doubtful Halachic Jewish status, but that does not stop Freund and Shavei Israel from extending the "Zionist dream" to them.

 *"Subbotnik Jews http://www.shavei.org/category/communities/subbotniks/?lang=en "The Subbotniks were peasants in southern Russia who embraced Jewish practice and converted to Judaism more than 200 years ago under the Czarist regime..."

 RaP: Who they were is not clear and what the Subbotniks did is controversial. They had ties with Christianity. After 200 years of raw ignorance there was also the inevitable intermarriage with gentiles. Shavei Israel's work with this group has been featured in past editions of the American Mishpacha magazine. But since the demise of EJF the Mishpacha editors/owners have been more cautious about getting into this minefield.

 *"The Hidden Jews of Poland http://www.shavei.org/category/communities/hidden_jews_of_poland/?lang=en "...increasing number of Poles have begun to discover their families’ Jewish roots. These include young people whose Jewish parents or grandparents were put up for adoption with Polish families and institutions in a desperate attempt to save them from the Nazi onslaught nearly seven decades ago..."

 RaP: On the one hand it is noble to welcome those who can prove they were descendants of victims hidden during the Nazi conquest of Poland, but Shavei Israel is rolling out a red carpet come one come all, not just to victims of Nazism, but of everything bad that ever happened in human life and in the process crosses the line into proselytization, as it does with all it's activities. It is not stopped by what other rabbis may or may not say or think, it makes up the rules and its goals for itself. It gets away with everything because it cloaks all its efforts in the ethos of modern Zionism, the Israeli flag and the kippa seruga, so people in the Israeli government do not oppose them, and that's all that matters to them.

*"The Kaifeng Jews http://www.shavei.org/category/communities/kaifeng_jews/?lang=en  Jews arrived in Kaifeng...China, over a thousand years ago... 5,000 people...assimilation eventually began to take its toll...there are between 500 and 1,000 identifiable descendants of the Jewish community...an awakening has been taking place among them, as increasing numbers of young Kaifeng Jews seek to reclaim their heritage"

 RaP: To Shavei Israel a group of perhaps 5,000 from 1,000 years ago that had withered down 800 years later and for the last 200 years has melted away obviously by centuries of intermarriage with local gentiles does not mean anything. The main thing is to get them to Israel.

 *"San Nicandro http://www.shavei.org/category/communities/san_nicandro/?lang=en ...Italy...end of the First World War.. illiterate peasant, Manduzio...discovered Judaism...thought that no Jews were left in the world. He began practicing the Jewish faith, and more and more of his neighbors joined him in his spiritual quest. Eventually, the community numbered 80 people...They approached the soldiers...to take the community members to the Promised Land. Subsequently, in 1946, most of Donato’s community succeeded in converting to Judaism, and the vast majority of them made aliyah in 1949. Today, there are still a few dozen members of the community in San Nicandro who are living a Jewish life and practicing Judaism even though they did not undergo a formal conversion."

 RaP: This stuff cannot be made up! Someone gets the idea in their head that they want to be "Jewish" and convinces a few more people, they suddenly all want to go to Israel, and Shavei Israel will help any such group to get to every last one. Multiply such things by hundreds of groups all over the world, and where does one draw the red line? Let them stay in Italy. It is a great country. A mecca for tourists. Israel does not have to be the "home" of anyone who decides they are part of the Jewish people. There are hundreds of millions of Christians who regard themselves as the modern Biblical Israel, and who knows when they will want to convert and Shavei Israel will help them make Aliya to make Israel into an even bigger Zionist population. Not to mention all the Arabs who think they already "own" Eretz Yisrael and are willing to kill Jews to get their goals.

 *"The Jews of the Amazon http://www.shavei.org/category/communities/jews_of_the_amazon/?lang=en In the 19th century...Moroccan Jews, made their way to South America...many of them eventually married local women...In recent years, a growing number of these Jews of the Amazon have begun to reconnect with their heritage, leading several hundred to make aliyah."

RaP: If they married local women then their children are gentiles. Simple! Brazil is a great country, why the need to get to Israel? This story can be told about Jews who moved anywhere who did not stick to Torah learning and Mitzvos observance. The whole Reform and Conservative movement in America is riddled with this scenario in every way with millions of such similarly non-Halachic "lost Jews" but there is certainly no mass proselytization effort to reach them by the Orthodox in America at this time, not since the demise of EJF at least. But Shavei Israel works out of Israel and can sell its goods of Aliya from there. The day when they will get access to the huge American market will indeed be interesting to behold...

*The Inca Jews http://www.shavei.org/category/communities/inca_jews/?lang=en Over five decades ago, in the northern Peruvian city of Cajamarca...Alvaro and Segundo Villanueva Correa...decided to embrace Judaism, forming a community in 1958...The group, which came to be known as the “Bnei Moshe”...makes no claim of Jewish ancestry...growing in number to more than 500 people...nearly all of the Inca Jews underwent conversion by Israel’s Chief Rabbinate and made aliyah, thanks in part to Shavei Israel."

RaP: There was no need to rush to bring them to Israel nor to convert them en masse. They could have stayed where they were. Peru is a nice country! Israelis love to vacation there! But again, someone gets an idea in their heads and Shavei Israel is there to not just fan the flames, to roll out the red carpets, to proselytize en masse and even get the Chief rabbinate to give its stamp of approval.

*"Other Communities http://www.shavei.org/category/communities/other_communities/?lang=en This section of our website is the place to learn about other Jewish communities around the world where Shavei Israel is not specifically involved. Below you’ll find these communities organized according to region and country."

RaP: In other words: they've only just begun! According to Shavei Israel they have a global master plan! See the list that Shavei Israel posts on its own website that would target even more far-flung groups. Click on each link to see what Shavei Israel has to say about each one:

"So far, there are only [two] regions listed – we’ll be adding others over time:
*Africa http://www.shavei.org/category/communities/other_communities/africa/?lang=en
    Abayudaya (Uganda)     Cameroon     Igbo Jews (Nigeria)     Lemba (Zimbabwe, Malawi, South Africa)     Rusape (Zimbabwe)     Timbuktu (Mali)

*Asia  http://www.shavei.org/category/communities/other_communities/asia/?lang=en
    Afghanistan     Bnei Ephraim (India)     Bukharan Jews     Donmeh (Turkey)     Jews in Japan
    Kyrgyzstan     Pathans (India)

*Caribbean http://www.shavei.org/category/communities/other_communities/caribbean/?lang=en

    Cuba    Jamaica     Puerto Rico     Suriname "

41 comments :

  1. Whos this guy Freund? I know someone who's donating money to Shavei Israel so this guy and organization can help others come back to Judaism? Daas Torah is this guys conversions Kosher? I do really want to advice my friend not to waste his money and time giving it to someone who is doing fraudulent conversions.

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  2. We have enough problems with the jews we know about, we have to go find more? Send them all to RBS.

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  3. You are right Shaul we have enough problems with the Jews we have now and I would have to say LOTS OF PROBLEMS and we are minority in the world. Oy Vey

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  4. He is not doing conversion, he sends them to the rabanut.

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  5. Kol Hakavod RaP!!!

    Freund gets most of his funding from Evangelical Christians.

    The more Christians who become "Jews", the more likely that the necessary 144k will declare that JC is the messiah and then they can kill the rest of us.

    That is the Protestant End Times prophecy, not MINE, BTW.

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  6. Rap,

    Did you know that in the Torah itself, in Bamidbar, there is a Patrilineal law of what constitutes Israel? It is kind of ironic.
    The actual "maternal line" claim is not logical. how exactly can the line go back to Yehuda, if it is maternal? duh!!
    Indeed, Ramban , as far as I know, is the only rabbi who grappled with this problem. He says that Being yisrael is Paternal, whereas being yeudi is Maternal! Try winding your head round that one!
    In case anyone wishes to call me "reform" , I am just quoting a very important but negelcted text, called the Torah!

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  7. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 23, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    RaP to Eddie 1:

    RaP: First of all Eddie, it's a pity you weren't around when this blog got going years ago and we discussed all these things. I am well aware of your assertions, and in fact I took a stand then, and still hold, that there was a different set of standards in the times of the Torah and Tanach about the question of "Who is a Jew?" -- but as they say in the classics, "that was then, this is NOW!" -- because once the Bnai Yisrael established themselves in Eretz Yisrael and once the Oral Law began to emerge as a a written body of law in its own right following the end of the era of the Tanach and the end of prophecy -- a new era emerged and the rulings of the talmidei chachomim who were the teachers of the Torah She Be'al Peh formalized and and established the Halachic system that has basically been the core of Jewish Law as from the times of the Anshei Knesses Hagedolah -- so that for the last 2,500 years, and probably longer, the definition of "Who is a Jew?" has followed that of the sages and as finally formalized by the Shulchan Aruch and Poskim for hundreds of years.

    "Eddie said...Rap, Did you know that in the Torah itself, in Bamidbar, there is a Patrilineal law of what constitutes Israel? It is kind of ironic."

    RaP: Indeed, but it is not applicable today. In fact I had focused on this subject long before you came along, and you can clearly see that I am more than fully aware of the claims you are making. But before I point them out, we can ALL agree that from an ORTHODOX Halachic point of view, what Shavei Israel and it's leader Michael Freund are doing runs COUNTER to the Halacha as it has been practiced for the last 2,500 and longer. Far, far greater Halachic authorities would be required to even DARE to contemplate to do what Shavei Israel and Michael Freund do with such carefree abandon! No wonder that the RAMBAM says that this job of "sorting people out" and finding "who is a Jew" is a job that will be done by none other than the true MASHIACH with the help of Eliyahu Hanavi! Therefore Michael Freund and his Shavei Israel would be regarded as impudent, if not heretical, for taking on a job for themselves, as Orthodox Jews yet, to do what the RAMBAM says is literally a task of Mashiach to gather in lost Jews. Michael Freund is not the Mashiach last anyone heard and Shavei Israel are not Eliyahu Hanavi either.

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  8. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 23, 2012 at 12:03 PM

    RaP to Eddie 2:

    "The actual "maternal line" claim is not logical. how exactly can the line go back to Yehuda, if it is maternal? duh!!"

    RaP: No need to be condescending. I am fully aware of that, if you would only have bothered to read the following discussions posted on this blog:

    *"Jewish attitude towards gerim as manifested towards the Erev Rav [May 14, 2008] [Daat Torah said...:] Recipients and Publicity has raised an important point regarding the nature of gerus. What are the lessons to be learned from the Erev Rav? He asserts in the following excerpt [from a longer comment] that we learn a postive attitude because Moshe accepted as converts those who would not meet modern standards - and he never apologized to G-d for this decision. His assertions involve a number of major concerns as to how we learn lessons from our Mesora - both written and oral. He also has expressed irritation about being misunderstood and therefore I want to allow him to clarify the issues here I am also including some of the comments related to this issue. While it is obvious that we are in serious disagreement - I think we have much to gain by focusing on his assertions. [Useful Kabbalistic source material is found on Mishpat Tzedek ]..."

    Please read through the lengthy discussions there and you will see that I have been the one on this blog that states, as you do, that Judaism in its most comprehensive sense is indeed welcoming of GENUINE converts but that it must be within a framework of an Orthodox Halachic rabbinate of Bais Din. There are lenient ways and stricter ways to grant conversions and there is room to debate this and even take opposite sides of a stricter or lenient views based on Halachic sources. That is not the point of the discussions now, and that is that Orthodox Judaism as we know it to be today, from the most modern Orthodox to the most Charedi and Chasidic does NOT have a positive view and is in fact AGAINST going out to gentiles and try to bring them into the fold of the Jewish people because Orthodox Judaism is not "the flying doctors" or, lehavdil, the "red cross" or "salvation army" or "mormom missionaries" that are on a campaign to connect with any goy anywhere who will open a crack in the door or the tent to let them in. Basically, Judaism as it is practiced today has a closed door to the goyim, BUT it can be opened in the correct way if the proper Halachic procedures are followed and practiced -- BUT NOT ABUSED!!

    The Orthodox have pioneered chinuch and kiruv and reaching out to any comobination of Reform, Conservative, atheist, secular Jews and Jews alienated from the Torah and Mitzvot, think of Chabad, the Bnai Akiva youth movement, NCSY of the OU, YU outreach, Aish HaTorah, Ohr Someach, Lev Le'achim and many, many others like them, and very often, LOTS of what they get into is controversial and they cross red lines to help people get mickey-mouse conversions. But NONE of them have the audacity and openness to do what Shavei Israel with Michael Freund at its head does, to turn over every rock and seek out every last situation where outright gentiles wake up one day and decide they "want to be Jewish" and go to Israel, like kids who are on walks and see an ice-cream shop and decide they want "ice-creams" and to even to take over the shop. Shavei Israel goes too far and you know it.

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  9. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 23, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    RaP to Eddie 3:

    "Indeed, Ramban , as far as I know, is the only rabbi who grappled with this problem. He says that Being yisrael is Paternal, whereas being yeudi is Maternal! Try winding your head round that one!"

    RaP: Not sure where this source is, but I am sure that while the Rishonim or others may SPECULATE and "talk in learning" postulating havei aminas (theoretical positions) and go back and forth about what once was, neither the Ramban nor any other Rishon rules in black and white that it is "imperative" let alone "permissible" for Jews to go and try to proselytize to any or even all the gentiles of the world to make them into Jews -- on the contrary, the more one learns Torah as an entirety, with the Oral Law, the Rishonim and Achronim, the Shulchan Aruch and Poskim, one does not find ANY major approval or ruling or line of thinking to "legitimate" nor even to "encourage" proselytization of gentiles by Torah observant Jews!

    "In case anyone wishes to call me "reform" , I am just quoting a very important but negelcted text, called the Torah!


    RaP: That was then this is NOW! They also had access to God and spoke with Him! They were either prophets or were guided by prophecy! Indeed, in the times of the Torah, Abraham and Sarah brought many to believe in Hashem. The 12 Tribes took wives that were either their step-sisters or were Canaanites, and of course they joined the Bnai Yisrael FULLY. Moshe Rabbeinu married Tzippora daughter of Yitro who became a CONVERT and Moshe brought out the Erev Rav and over the generations many waves of gentiles have sought to join the Jewish people. But TODAY there is no HETER (legal allowance in Halacha) and certainly there is NO consensus of any kind by any major Halachic or rabbinic authorities to do what Shavei Israel is doing. In fact they are careful to avoid saying what you are saying and do not use that as a "defense" for their activities. Notice that Shavei Israel does not conduct its activities in the USA or the UK or France where their are big Orthodox populations and strong rabbinates that would condemn them! Shavei Israel works out of the safety net of the state of Israel, where it obviously has some sort of backroom arrangement with reckless types of wild-eyed Zionists in Israel and the Zionist elements in the Chief rabbinate that will work with them. It's all very iffy. Their tactic is to label even the most doubtful far-fetched people as "Jews" while they are still very far from being Jews who actually need Halachic conversions. The main thing for Shavei Israel is to offer free rides to get to Israel with lots of photo ops that makes some people in Israel feel good because it validates them as grand old Zionists that has nothing to do with serious Torah Judaism and they and you know it!

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  10. Eddie said...

    Rap,

    Did you know that in the Torah itself, in Bamidbar, there is a Patrilineal law of what constitutes Israel? It is kind of ironic.
    The actual "maternal line" claim is not logical. how exactly can the line go back to Yehuda, if it is maternal? duh!!
    Indeed, Ramban , as far as I know, is the only rabbi who grappled with this problem. He says that Being yisrael is Paternal, whereas being yeudi is Maternal! Try winding your head round that one!
    In case anyone wishes to call me "reform" , I am just quoting a very important but negelcted text, called the Torah!
    ================

    Eddie could you give a citation. If you look at the Ramban in Vayikira he is clearly saying the Jews from Avraham follow the mother.


    Ramban (Vayikra 24:10): And the French Rabbis say that the reason that this son of a Jewish mother and an Egyptian father required conversion was because he was born prior to the Giving of the Torah and at that time the law was the child’s status was determined by the father and not the mother as it says in Yevamos (78b) that the status of non Jews is determined by the father. So when this son of a Jewish mother and Egyptian father was born they did not circumcise him because he was viewed as legally an Egyptian. However when he grew up he voluntarily converted and was circumcised. However this is not my understanding. That is because from the time that Avraham entered into the covenant with G d his descendants were Jews and were not considered as non Jews.

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  11. RaP

    Thank you for your reply .

    Actually, I am glad we are in agreement - at least about THEN :)

    Of course there is a process of Halacha, at the same time, the THEN cannot change, as far as I understand. It can be qualified or temporarily be suspended, but cannot change to something different. hopefully Mashiach will clarify this matter.


    DT - I am not currently in a palce where ihave my seforim, but will try to give the source on Ramban when i get back.

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  12. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 23, 2012 at 10:36 PM

    I have found the following to be a very helpful explanation in simple English:

    From Torah.org:

    http://www.torah.org/qanda/seequanda.php?id=318

    LifeCycle Events: Marriage and Sexuality: Matrilineal Descent:

    What is the source of the law that a child is Jewish only if its mother is Jewish?

    The statement that Jewish identity is determined by the mother is found in the Mishnah (Kiddushin 3:12), which says that the child of a gentile woman is like her. The Talmud derives this from the passage in Deut. 7:3-4: "Do not intermarry with [him], do not give your daughter to his son or take his daughter for your son, for he will turn your son from Me": A child born to your daughter (fathered by a non-Jew) is called "your son", but a child born to your son (by a non-Jewish mother) is not called "your son", but "her son". The Talmud is assuming here that the "he" in Deut.7:4 is your gentile son-in-law, and that "your son" whom "he" will turn away from G-d is your grandson, born to him and to your daughter. The Torah calls that grandson "your son" because he is regarded as Jewish since he had a Jewish mother. In the other case, where a Jewish man marries a gentile woman, the Torah doesn't speak about the woman's influence on her children (i.e., it doesn't say "for she will turn your son from me"), because her children are non-Jewish to begin with since their mother is non-Jewish. Apparently we are more concerned about the influence of a non-Jewish spouse on the children than about the influence of a non-Jewish spouse's parents on their children-in-law. The Talmud (Kiddushin 68b) asks how we know that these laws apply to any non-Jews, since the cited verse refers to the Canaanites. The answer given there is that "he will turn your son [away from Me]" implies that all those who might turn [sons] away are included in the prohibition."

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  13. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 23, 2012 at 10:41 PM

    Another helpful summary in simple English:

    From Shamash.org:

    http://www.shamash.org/lists/scj-faq/HTML/faq/10-11.html

    Soc.Culture.Jewish Newsgroups

    Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

    URL: www.scjfaq.org/faq/10-11.html

    What is the origin of Matrilineal Descent?

    The Torah does not always state every law explicitly. In the case of Matrilineal Descent, the practice is derived from Deuteronomy 7: 4, "Because he will lead astray your son from before Me" To understand this verse, look at the preceding verse, which states: "And you shall not intermarry with them, your daughter you shall not give to his son and his daughter you shall not take for your son". Verse 4 should have stated "Because SHE will lead astray your son", for the non-Jewish girl that your son married ('your' meaning Jewish) should be the one that would lead your son astray. So who is the 'HE'? It might be the girl's father, but in general, women leave their father's house and live in their husband's house; they would then not be living with her father. Hence, it would not make sense for the girl's father to lead "your son" astray if your son doesn't live with him.

    The Rabbis concluded that 'HE' is the man that your daughter married, and 'your son' mentioned in verse 4 is your grandchild, meaning Jewish grandchild. Thus, verse 4 is referring back to the middle section of verse 3. It reads like this, "your daughter you shall not give to his son because he will lead astray your son" This shows that the child of a Jewish girl and a non-Jewish boy will be Jewish.

    It is not uncommon for the Torah to refer to a grandchild as an actual child. For instance, Kings I 15: 11 states, " And Asa did that which was correct in the eyes of God just like David his father". David was not Asa's father. He was his great-great-grandfather.

    Additionally, Leviticus 24:10 speaks of the son of an Israelite woman and an Egyptian man as being "among the community of Israel" (ie, a Jew). On the other hand, in Ezra 10:2-3, the Jews returning to Israel vowed to put aside their non-Jewish wives and the children born to those wives. They could not have put aside those children if those children were Jews."

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  14. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 23, 2012 at 11:42 PM

    "Eddie said...RaP Thank you for your reply."

    RaP: Sure. You are a serious person and an enjoyable and fair debater.

    "Actually, I am glad we are in agreement - at least about THEN :)"

    RaP: Sort of. I do not think that we are of one mind, and I do not think that we are even birds of a feather in any way, but we are both willing to think somewhat broader beyond usual pat politically correct views.

    "Of course there is a process of Halacha, at the same time, the THEN cannot change, as far as I understand."

    RaP: NO! Halacha is paramount in Orthodoxy, that is what distinguishes true Orthodox Judaism from all other varieties. While at the same time, there may indeed be "yedios" or notions and underlying principles or a type of underlying sense that the entirety of the Torah and the Tanach goes way beyond the formalized Halacha of the Shulchan Aruch. But again, what makes Orthodox Jews, Orthodox, is that they commit themselves to viewing and living and functioning through the prism of the Shulchan Aruch, based as it is on the correct Oral Law sources, and as defined further by the greatest Halachic and Talmudic minds among Torah Jewry. This is a not a game of pick and choose. It's deadly serious and creates the framework and pillars, literally "Arba Turim" that means "Four Pillars" of Jewish Law, as expressed in the accepted Jewish Codes of law.

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  15. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 23, 2012 at 11:43 PM

    "[Eddie says...] It can be qualified or temporarily be suspended, but cannot change to something different. hopefully Mashiach will clarify this matter."

    RaP: RAMBAM's (Maimonides') closing words in his Mishneh Torah, and everything in the RAMBAM is really a major ruling, speaks for itself. In the volume of Shoftim, Laws of Kings and Wars (hilchos melochim umilchamos), Chapter 12, (the final chapter), siman gimal (3), the RAMBAM states: "In the days of the king mashiach when his monarchy will be re-established and all Israel will be gathered unto him, all will have their pedigree established by his mouth/command ("yisyachsu kulam al piv") with Ruach HaKodesh ("Holy Spirit") that will rest upon him...and the sons of Levi he will purify first and he will say this one is a pure/pedigree Kohen this one is a pure/pedigree Levi and he pushes aside/rejects those [Jews] that are not pedigreed/connected to Yisrael...behold you learn that by ruach hakodesh ("Holy Spirit") they are pedigreed/connected and established and [it's] made known about the meyuchas [the person being examined]. And he only connects/pedigrees Israel[ites] to their Tribes, he announces that 'this one is from Tribe so-and-so [ploni]' and 'this one is from Tribe such-and-such [ploni]'..."

    A few lines earlier in siman beis (2) the RAMBAM states that Eliyahu Hanavi will also have a job prior to the coming of Mashiach: "...prior to the war of Gog Umagog a prophet will arise in Israel to straighten/perfect Israel and prepare their hearts/motivate them, as it says 'behold I am sending you Elijah the Prophet.' And he is not coming to make the pure impure and not to purify the impure and not to negate ("pasul") people who are assumed to be 'kosher' ("chezkas kashrus") and not to make 'kosher' those who are in the category of "huchzeku pesulin/pasul" (ineligible/negative status) but to bring about/place peace in the world as it says he shall return the heart of the fathers to [the] sons. And there are among the sages who state that prior to the coming of King Messiah (melech hamashiach') Eliyahu will come..."

    So it's quite clear that unless Michael Freund can prove that he is the true "Mashiach" and that his various emissaries can show that they are "Eliyahu Hanavi" -- they are automatically running afoul of the RAMBAM's words that are in effect rulings. In fact, the RAMBAM warns against the coming of various false prophets and not to follow them and he was dealing with false messiahs already in his time, as he famously warned the Jews of Yemen about this occupational hazard of being an afflicted Jew in the Exile, not to fall prey to snake oil salesmen and mirages and fakers!

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  16. RaP,a few things.

    1) You go on and on that these people are not Jews, but that is completely irrelevant. If they want to convert and they convert, they are Jews, whether or not they are really descended from Jews.

    2) You have never provided actual evidence that what Shavei Israel does is counter to halacha. Prostelytization is forbidden, but what is the halachic definition of prostelytization, and what's the evidence they've crossed the line? I haven't seen a shred of evidence that they actually try to convince people to convert, as opposed to just educating those who are interesting in learning more about Judaism, and arranging for the conversions of those who decide to convert.

    3) The Gemara says that gathering converts is the real purpose of the exile. The prophets said the 10 lost tribes will return. So what if some people get excited about people (whether with some Jewish ancestry or not) converting -- isn't that to be expected? As long as they are not trying to convince people to convert who don't already want to, how is this against halacha? Of course you might be able to find a rabbi who opposes it -- you can find rabbis who won't let kohanim fly in planes over cemetaries! -- but what is the actual halachic reasoning and the actual facts about what Shavei Israel supposedly does wrong? That's what's important.

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  17. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 24, 2012 at 9:27 AM

    Here are the words of the RAMBAM in Hebrew in the Mechon Mamre online edition at http://www.mechon-mamre.org/i/e512.htm:

    "הלכות מלכים ומלחמות פרק יב

    א אל יעלה על הלב שבימות המשיח, ייבטל דבר ממנהגו של עולם, או יהיה שם חידוש במעשה בראשית; אלא עולם כמנהגו הולך. וזה שנאמר בישעיה "וגר זאב עם כבש, ונמר עם גדי ירבץ" (ישעיהו יא,ו), משל וחידה. עניין הדבר--שיהיו ישראל יושבין לבטח עם רשעי העולם, המשולים בזאב ונמר: שנאמר "זאב ערבות ישודדם--נמר שוקד על עריהם" (ירמיהו ה,ו). ויחזרו כולם לדת האמת, ולא יגזולו ולא ישחיתו, אלא יאכלו דבר המותר בנחת כישראל, שנאמר "ואריה, כבקר יאכל תבן" (ישעיהו יא,ז; ישעיהו סה,כה).


    ד ויש מן החכמים שאומרים שקודם ביאת המלך המשיח, יבוא אלייהו. וכל אלו הדברים וכיוצא בהן--לא יידע אדם היאך יהיו, עד שיהיו: שדברים סתומים הן אצל הנביאים. גם החכמים אין להם קבלה בדברים אלו, אלא לפי הכרע הפסוקים; ולפיכך יש להם מחלוקת בדברים אלו. ועל כל פנים, אין סידור הווית דברים אלו ולא דקדוקן, עיקר בדת.


    ו [ג] בימי המלך המשיח, כשתתיישב מלכותו ויתקבצו אליו כל ישראל, יתייחסו כולם על פיו ברוח הקודש שתנוח עליו, שנאמר "וישב מצרף ומטהר . . ." (מלאכי ג,ג). ובני לוי מטהר תחילה, ואומר זה מיוחס כוהן וזה מיוחס לוי, ודוחה את שאינן מיוחסין לישראל: הרי הוא אומר "ויאמר התרשתא להם . . . עד עמוד כוהן, לאורים ולתומים" (עזרא ב,סג). הנה למדת שברוח הקודש מתייחסין המוחזקין, ומודיעין המיוחס. ואינו מייחס ישראל אלא לשבטיהם, שמודיע שזה משבט פלוני וזה משבט פלוני. אבל אינו אומר על שהן בחזקת כשרות, זה ממזר וזה עבד--שהדין הוא שמשפחה שנטמעה, נטמעה.


    ז [ד] לא נתאוו הנביאים והחכמים ימות המשיח--לא כדי שישלטו על כל העולם, ולא כדי שירדו בגויים, ולא כדי שינשאו אותם העמים, ולא כדי לאכול ולשתות ולשמוח: אלא כדי שיהיו פנויין בתורה וחכמתה, ולא יהיה להם נוגש ומבטל, כדי שיזכו לחיי העולם הבא, כמו שביארנו בהלכות תשובה.

    ח [ה] ובאותו הזמן, לא יהיה שם לא רעב ולא מלחמה ולא קנאה ותחרות--שהטובה תהיה מושפעת הרבה, וכל המעדנים מצויין כעפר. ולא יהיה עסק כל העולם, אלא לדעת את ה' בלבד. ולפיכך יהיו חכמים גדולים, ויודעים דברים הסתומים העמוקים; וישיגו דעת בוראם כפי כוח האדם, שנאמר "כי מלאה הארץ, דעה את ה', כמים, לים מכסים" (ישעיהו יא,ט).
    "

    ReplyDelete
  18. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 24, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    "yeshaya said...1) You go on and on that these people are not Jews, but that is completely irrelevant. If they want to convert and they convert, they are Jews, whether or not they are really descended from Jews."

    RaP: This is not about me going "on and on that these people are not Jews" -- it is an objective fact that these people are not Jews -- and if Shavei Israel places ads in The Jewish Press, appeals for funds, and conducts PR wars for itself, then it must also face more scrutiny, and people like yourself should not lull themselves and shut down their critical faculties as if "everything is all right" while the metaphoric "Titanic" of Yiddishkeit is sinking!

    Shavei Israel's tactics are deceptive and misleading and above all manipulating!

    Michael Freund works almost like a "Mossad" agent, which he may well be given his level of sheer Zionistic patriotism above all else. His world view comes from the psychology of the rise of the modern state of Israel based upon religious and secular political Zionists, he does not view the world from a Torah Judaism hashkafa and his emissaries are in effect functionally disabled in this department.

    So it comes as no surprise, that when they come across the equivalents of "bagel and lox Jews by choice" who are NOT Halachically Jewish, they just don't care, they jump up and down and roll out the red carpet and rush to bring those strangers to the Jewish homeland.

    This is just what happened with the the recent Aliya from the former USSR with over 300,000 of them (a third out of about one million) being PROVABLY not Halachic Jews and many of them forged papers and lied to escape the crushing poverty and a collapsed state, but the Jewish Agency wanted warm bodies to come to Israel and could care less what Halacha defines as a true Jew.

    As you should know, to many secular Zionists, if people are willing to come to Israel, fight in the Israeli army and abide by Israeli laws, then presto, they are also "good Jews" which of course is nonsense, and you know it.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 24, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    Reply 1 to yeshaya 2):

    "[yeshaya said...] 2) You have never provided actual evidence that what Shavei Israel does is counter to halacha.

    RaP: The Halacha is that Jews do not run around either seeking out geirim or trying to help geirim become Jews. That's the general operative principle in Halacha today. If that is not known to you, please consult with your local most reliable posek in Halacha and tell us if he agrees with what Shavei Israel is doing.

    Rabbis have a lot on their hands, and lots of troubles to deal with. So far, Shavei Israel and its leader Michael Freund have not been torn down, and it's for one reason, they have serious backing within the Israeli government and funding from abroad, and not because any rabbinical group endorses them or likes what they are doing. They bring problems to the batei din, like the cat that brings the mouse it catches to the doorstep of its owner, even though the cat's owner is repulsed by the mouse, but what can he do, he pats the cat on the neck because the cat is his pet and keeps him company and gives him the warm and fuzzies, just as Freund helps the folks at The Jewish Press and in some Israeli government circles smiling.

    But as a first choice, a real Torah Jew and certainly a respectable Bais Din would not allow the cat to play its cat and mouse games and would throw out the cat with the mice if they had a chance. So far, it has been this blog that has been tracking Shavei Israel's controversial activities. Hopefully it will alert the various Orthodox rabbinates to this danger before they are overwhelmed by the results of controversial missionizing.

    "Prostelytization is forbidden,"

    RaP: Thank you, we at least agree on the main principle!

    "but what is the halachic definition of prostelytization,"

    RaP: This has been discussed and posted many times on this blog. Here are some main ones:

    *Proselytizing is problematic I - Aruch HaShulchan [January 8, 2008] "Aruch HaShulchan[1](Yoreh Deah 268:6): One should not try to actively encourage any non-Jew to convert. In fact we should discourage conversion as we see in Yevamos (47a)...";

    *Proselytizing is problematic II - Yevamos 109b: "R’ Yitzchok said what is the meaning of Mishlei (11:15): He that is a surety for a stranger will suffer for it? That means evil upon evil comes to those who accept converts... That those who accept converts bring evil upon themselves is learned from R’ Chelbo who said: Converts are as difficult for Israel as a sore on the skin...Tosfos[1] (Yevamos 109b): Evil upon evil comes to those who accept converts – The Ri explained that that is only when the non‑Jews are proselytized to convert or they are accepted prematurely before they are ready." [January 11, 2008];

    ReplyDelete
  20. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 24, 2012 at 12:00 PM

    Reply 2 to yeshaya 2):

    *Proselytizing is problematic III - Obligation to convert is on ger - not beis din [January 17, 2008] "evamos[1](48b): R’ Chanaiah son of Rabban Gamliel said: Why are converts in the present time oppressed and suffering? It is because they hadn’t fulfilled the Seven Mitzvos of Noach [before conversion - Rashi]...Maharal[2](Yevamos 48b): Why are converts in the present time oppressed and suffering?… Because they delay their conversion. It seems that the proof is the verse [Ruth 2:12] saying that she came under His wings and that there is reward for this. If so it is logical that there is also punishment for not coming...Mishneh Halachos[3](16:92): Is it a mitzva to accept converts?… In the sefer Knesses Yechezkeil (#59) the question is raised whether beis din has a mitzva to accept converts?...the Rambam does not in fact state that love of G‑d means to convert non‑Jews to Judaism. 2) We don’t learn the obligation of any mitzvos from what happened prior to the Giving of the Torah as is explicity stated in the Rambam (Commentary to Mishna Chullin 7:6) and other places...Yevamos (48b which asks why are converts today suffer. The view of others is because they delayed coming under the wings of the Shechina. Ruth (2:12) is cited that G-d gave full reward since Ruth came as soon as possible to convert… Thus we see that a convert who converted as soon as possible is praiseworthy. This would also explain why beis din should not delay the conversion. However it doesn’t show that the beis din is comanded to convert.";

    *Rav Moshe Sternbuch - Kiruv for non-Jews [August 10, 2007];

    *Rav Moshe Sternbuch - Authorized Translation: Kiruv for someone with a Jewish father and a non‑Jewish mother [August 10, 2007]: "...My view is that it is absolutely forbidden to try to proselytize a non‑Jew even if he mistakenly views himself as Jewish. One obvious reason is that such an approach actually encourages intermarriage...";

    ReplyDelete
  21. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 24, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    Reply 3 to yeshaya 2):

    *Kiruv for non-Jews with Jewish Identity II [August 24, 2007];

    *Bedatz letter regarding conversion: Concerning the Holiness of the Jewish People – the Holy Nation.: "The senior dayanim of the Bedatz met today to discuss allegations that certain kiruv activists are actively proselytizing the children of intermarried couples to convince them to convert – even though according to Torah law there is no halachic relationship with their Jewish fathers. They are calling for the acceptance of these non-Jewish children in Jewish programs and religious schools. Such an action is literally a disaster and self‑destructive. It is self‑evident that such a program is absolutely prohibited by the Torah..." and many more posts of this nature on this blog.

    "and what's the evidence they've crossed the line?"

    RaP: Just read the Shavei Israel website. It's obvious.

    "I haven't seen a shred of evidence that they actually try to convince people to convert,"

    RaP: Don't be a fool.

    "as opposed to just educating those who are interesting in learning more about Judaism,"

    RaP: Yeah right! They also give out free lollipops like the candy man in shull. Be real!

    "and arranging for the conversions of those who decide to convert."

    RaP: This is the most serious final act of proselytization itself! Wake up!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 24, 2012 at 12:11 PM

    "[yeshaya said...]: 3) The Gemara says that gathering converts is the real purpose of the exile."

    RaP: In the very broadest sense, but it does not mean to say that the Jewish people have to mute into become latter-day "Mormons" either and run around all over the world like Shavei Israel with PR campaigns! This is an abuse and deformation and counterfeit, a form of "identity theft" if you will, of the outreach by established Orthodox groups such as Chabad and Lev Le'achim that ARE GUIDED by serious Orthodox rabbis, and others like them to non-religious Jews.

    "The prophets said the 10 lost tribes will return."

    RaP: That is not clear. But it's a job for Mashiach.

    "So what if some people get excited about people (whether with some Jewish ancestry or not) converting -- isn't that to be expected?"

    RaP: Now you are playing fast and lose with the facts. Shavei Israel is a massive, well-financed, hugely ambitious undertaking with a global reach and near-messianic pretensions. If you don't see the problem here, then you need to have your perceptions re-adjusted.

    "As long as they are not trying to convince people to convert who don't already want to, how is this against halacha?"

    RaP: Shavei Israel does not do only do one thing, it does many things, and it targets many types of people. Many of those they target may have a vague desire to become Halachic Jews -- if they arguablky even know what that means, and many of those that Shavei Israel thinks are already "Jewish" are in fact provably and even self-admitedly to them NOT even remotely Halchaically Jewish. So they are guilty of intellectual dishonesty, misleading lots of people, lies and deception to boot.

    "Of course you might be able to find a rabbi who opposes it"

    RaP: In fact, most serious Orthodox rabbis oppose this type of undertaking. They don't have time to condemn all the problems in the Jewish world, but it does not make Shavei Israel "right" either -- probably, to many rabbis, Shavei Israel is far beyond the pale that they do not even merit condemnation, but sooner or later when Shavei Israel will side with the Reform and Conservative movements in the USA, as they side with ANY type of person claiming even a tenuous link with the Jews, with their millions of non-Halachic Jews ready for the Shavei Israel show-case, they will be unmasked for the trouble-makers that they are.

    "-- you can find rabbis who won't let kohanim fly in planes over cemetaries! --"

    RaP: Non sequitur.

    "but what is the actual halachic reasoning and the actual facts about what Shavei Israel supposedly does wrong? That's what's important."

    RaP: See the responses already provided above.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Publisher Gary Rosenblatt considers himself a follower of Emmanuel Rackman.

    http://www.thejewishweek.com/features/new_york_minute/lost_and_found_tribe

    5,000-member Bnei Menashe in the northeastern Indian state of Manipur, a community believed to be one of the 10 Lost Tribes of Israel.

    ReplyDelete
  24. RaP, thanks for all the posts -- there is some interesting stuff in there. However, in most of your responses I see a lot of vague claims, grandiose metaphors, and unsubstantiated accusations about people's actions and worldviews, but no evidence. Where is the evidence they actually try to convince people to convert, as opposed to supporting those who do want to convert? To get such evidence you'd have to go undercover, or interview people involved. No one's done that, as far as I know.

    Neither have I seen evidence of any halachic principle that providing education to people who want to convert comes under the definition of prostelytization. I'm not an expert, but what it sounds like to me is that there has never been an exact halachic definition of prostelyzation -- people probably just assumed it meant going around trying to convince people who don't already want to convert to convert -- but in modern times some rabbis have used the term to describe initiatives that simply offer educational resources (such as a mentor, as in EJF, or an educational program, as with Shavei) to people who have indicated they are interested in conversion. While it's no surprise some rabbis would be uncomfortable with doing anything organized to mentor potential converts -- like the the super-machmir Badatz -- I still don't see anyone issuing a decision applying a clear halachic principle to a well-developed set of facts, reasoning to a conclusion, and ruling out this sort of thing.

    Where is the evidence that Freund and his staff have a non-Torah hashkafa, as you allege? Here's the list of people you've slandered.

    http://www.shavei.org/about-us/stafstaff/?lang=en

    http://www.shavei.org/our-emissaries/?lang=en

    They're mainstream dati leumi as far as I can tell, and I would call that a Torah-based hashkafa. The fact that they're Israelis (many of them olim) and therefore "Zionist" doesn't mean everything they do is motivated by demographic imperatives alone, to the exclusion of halachic considerations.

    Personally, I don't think the Shavei thing compares to the Russian immigration to Israel. When the non-Jewish Russian olim (or their descendents) convert they might in some cases be doing it to fit in with their countrymen, while the Shavei people seem to really be enthusiastically accepting the mitzvot and staying completely observant after conversion. In fact, Rabbi Shlomo Amar was so impressed by the devotion of the Bnei Menashe that he actually said the thinks they are descendents of the lost tribe. I have no opinion on whether this is in fact the case, but the fact they are observant post-conversion demonstrates they are valid converts.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 25, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    ONE of THREE:

    "yeshaya said...Where is the evidence they actually try to convince people to convert, as opposed to supporting those who do want to convert? To get such evidence you'd have to go undercover, or interview people involved. No one's done that, as far as I know."

    RaP: You know, this is unfolding like the Troppe-EJF story in many ways. From the time Tropper and Tom Kaplan launched EJF most of the greatest rabbis and rosh yeshivas vouched for Tropper-EJF, even attended its conferences. To this day, even after the collapse of EJF and Tropper's disgrace, Tom Kaplan himself is still unscathed, he was the one who pushed Tropper and funded him. When a few objecting voices emerged, and stories started coming in of how gentiles in mixed marriages were being courted for conversions, few backed off from supporting Tropper. It was all "jealousy" and "slander" they held. Rav Amar, Rav Yosef and the biggest and the best kept on supporting Tropper...until someone recorded Tropper on video and on audio cavorting and acting immorally, demanding "sex for conversions" and Tropper resigned in disgrace bringing EJF crashing down behind him. So now you are saying, until such a "recording" and operation is conducted against Freund that will discredit Shavei Israel, that you will be on the sidelines. Ok, so be it, but sorry, around here we are only BLOGGERS and doing what we can to raise the alarms just as we did years before Tropper self-destructed. At this time, it is not clear how the Freund-Shavei Israel undertaking will pan out, but such a controversial undertaking cannot sustain itself in the post EJF era.

    "Neither have I seen evidence of any halachic principle that providing education to people who want to convert comes under the definition of prostelytization."

    RaP: They are not merely "providing education" they are chasing after them at full speed, "providing education" = proselytization, to "people" = gentiles, and halachically it is simply wrong to chase gentiles to become Jews, even if those gentiles had Jewish grandaddies 1,000 years ago. Shavei Israel's work is as self-appointed headhunters to dredge up people and take them before the Israeli batei din. Bait Din did not appoint them to do it. It all comes out of Michael Freund's mind, a book should be written about that, maybe by a Freudian!

    "I'm not an expert,"

    RaP: You sure sound off like one.

    "but what it sounds like to me is that there has never been an exact halachic definition of prostelyzation"

    RaP: Because it was never imagined by Torah Jewry that anyone would do such crazy things! But this blog has provided lots of key resource material on this Halachic issue from a variety of angles.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 25, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    TWO of THREE:

    "-- people probably just assumed it meant going around trying to convince people who don't already want to convert to convert --"

    RaP: Even if gentiles "want to convert" there is NO "mitzva" to go out and convince them to go through with it. You know full well that it is actually incumbent on a beit din to discourage a convert and certainly mass conversions. But with Shavei Israel it goes further, they have already decided for themselves that their target audience of people who are Halachically gentiles are in any case already "Jewish" and "Jews" which is intellectually dishonest and a fraudulent claim. All that Shavei Israel really wants from batei din is to act like literal RUBBER STAMPS and just give an automatic hechsher to the people it dredges up. Who are the rabbis that Shavei Israel relies on in the first place and who allows them to go out and do what they do??? Is it known? Why don't you ask that basic question first! If Freund were a Reform or Conservative Jew he would be dismissed as a joke, but he takes on the mantle of THE "interpreter" of this subject with his supercilious attitude and his hoity-toity tones and as THE "posek ha'acharon" in this regard when he is just an upstart with a VERY radical idea in his ever-churning head ("zhuk barosh") trying to upturn the apple cart! (Yes, sometimes colorful phrases convey what is REALLY going on!)

    "but in modern times some rabbis have used the term to describe initiatives that simply offer educational resources (such as a mentor, as in EJF, or an educational program, as with Shavei) to people who have indicated they are interested in conversion."

    RaP: So what you are saying in effect is that EJF AND Shavei Israel are really no different! No wonder you have difficulty digesting what I am saying and the in-depth research that this blog has placed before you over the years, if you will bother to re-read the many posts from the past about this.

    "While it's no surprise some rabbis would be uncomfortable with doing anything organized to mentor potential converts -- like the the super-machmir Badatz --"

    RaP: But in the end, they were proven right about Tropper and EJF, so that even the super-lenient RCA in the USA led the last attack on denouncing Tropper and EJF. Probably, with time, the same will happen with Shavei Israel.

    "I still don't see anyone issuing a decision applying a clear halachic principle to a well-developed set of facts, reasoning to a conclusion, and ruling out this sort of thing."

    RaP: Plenty were posted in the above links. Look them over again!

    "Where is the evidence that Freund and his staff have a non-Torah hashkafa, as you allege?"

    RaP: It is against Orthodox Judaism to encourage people who are gentiles to convert to Judaism, especially as a mass movement. That position is how normative Torah Judaism is understood and practiced today.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 25, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    THREE of THREE

    "Here's the list of people you've slandered.

    http://www.shavei.org/about-us/stafstaff/?lang=en

    http://www.shavei.org/our-emissaries/?lang=en

    They're mainstream dati leumi as far as I can tell, and I would call that a Torah-based hashkafa."

    RaP: Can they or you cite which dati-leumi rabbis back them up IN EVERYTHING THEY DO AND SAY, in writing please!

    "The fact that they're Israelis (many of them olim) and therefore "Zionist" doesn't mean everything they do is motivated by demographic imperatives alone, to the exclusion of halachic considerations."

    RaP: Many of them are converts themselves and the Halacha does NOT allow converts to engage in practices that encourage or help other gentiles to convert. That is something that has also been discussed and cited on this blog. Please do your homework.

    "Personally, I don't think the Shavei thing compares to the Russian immigration to Israel."

    RaP: Oh yeah?

    "When the non-Jewish Russian olim (or their descendents) convert they might in some cases be doing it to fit in with their countrymen, while the Shavei people seem to really be enthusiastically accepting the mitzvot and staying completely observant after conversion."

    RaP: That's because the Jewish Agency is not run by Shavei Israel...yet, but you could bet your last cent that if ever the day came and Michael Freund became the Israeli Minister of Absorption/Aliya/Interior and Shavei Israel was given the Jewish Agency/Ministry of the Interior/Absorption Ministry to run, they would all look and say and act and be "educated" like Shavei Israel is doing. At least the Jewish Agency is secular but Shavei Israel wraps itself in the mantel of religiosity and takes for itself the "moral high-ground" and acts as if it, and it alone, knows "what's right" as if Freund has an ongoing "revelation" from God and Shavei are his "divinely-appointed emissaries" that can do no wrong which makes the problem even bigger.

    "In fact, Rabbi Shlomo Amar was so impressed by the devotion of the Bnei Menashe that he actually said the thinks they are descendents of the lost tribe."

    RaP: Rabbi Amar was also taken in by EJF and Tropper's tricks, so this is no proof of anything!

    "I have no opinion on whether this is in fact the case,"

    RaP: For someone with lots of certain opinions you are not convincing when you express doubts.

    "but the fact they are observant post-conversion demonstrates they are valid converts."

    RaP: Shoin! So now they are all "valid converts" -- did you interview all of them? And probably you will argue that "because" the ones who get to Israel are "valid converts" (not all become converts by the way) so then somehow "therefore" the ones who are *still waiting* to get to Israel should be "accepted" as "Jews" even though they are far from it now, and we know that Shavie Israel has a bad PR habit of calling "gentiles" as "Jews" and "Jewish" way before they undergo any form of education let alone conversion! This kind of lawyering, posturing, twisting of reality, distortion and misrepresentation of Jewish Law and deception for pre-determined self-serving ends comes from the mind of a Tropper or Freund defender.

    ReplyDelete
  28. RaP, thanks for the detailed replies. You say that they are good halachic decisions, but have any of these decisions (like the Badatz one) actually heard arguments and evidence from BOTH sides of the story? If they're just basing it on second-hand accounts by opponents, why would their opinions have any weight? That is, any more weight than with the decisions regarding R' Slifkin, whose books were banned by Gedolim who had not read them, had been lied to about them, and had not heard Slifkin's side of the story (which turned out to be correct, since he has dozens of rishonim agreeing with his approach). I know it's customary these days (fashionable?) to issue bans without hearing both sides of the story, but is that halachically valid?

    You suggest I'm a Tropper defender. I'd never defend him personally, or try to argue he was framed or whatever. But I admit to not being convinced that it's prostelytizing to provide non-Jews who are married to Jews with mentors IF they already want to convert and WITHOUT trying to convince them to convert. If it results in the kids being raised Orthodox (if already Jewish) or converting validly (if not already Jewish), and the Jewish partner being observant, then it's a good outcome. As long as no one is prostelytized as that word is properly understood, everyone wins. The idea put forward by R' Sternbuch, that the existence of such programs will somehow encourage intermarriage, is unconvincing. After all, millions of secular Jews are already intermarrying. If these secular Jews cared in the slightest what Orthodox rabbis thought, they wouldn't be intermarrying to begin with.

    "And probably you will argue that "because" the ones who get to Israel are "valid converts" (not all become converts by the way) so then somehow "therefore" the ones who are *still waiting* to get to Israel should be "accepted" as "Jews" even though they are far from it now, and we know that Shavie Israel has a bad PR habit of calling "gentiles" as "Jews" and "Jewish" way before they undergo any form of education let alone conversion!"

    No, I never said we should accept them as Jews, and to the extent Shavei implies they are halachic Jews already, that's regrettable. They're almost certainly not halachically Jewish, and I'm sure not all of them will convert (if they all did, I'd be worried). For those who do, though, fine.

    One important thing to understand, which seems to be little known, is that mass conversions did happen under frum auspices in Eastern Europe. Rabbi
    Joseph Lifland (1876-1950), in his book Converts & Conversion to
    Judaism, reports that when he was living near Voronezh, Russia, there
    were whole gentile villages who converted (sometimes with his help or advice). He says that he met
    with many of the converts or prospective converts, who were often
    persecuted or killed by the Tsarist government. During WWI, a village of gentiles near Uman, Ukraine converted with the help of Breslov chassidim. Another village also converted with the help of Breslovers, though I'm not sure which time period (these episodes are discussed on the Nachal Novea website). I've also read of similar accounts in the 19th century and earlier. There are enough converts stories around that I think one can be fairly certain that most Ashkenazim have converts in their family tree within the last few hundred years.

    Given this history, I'm not convinced that there's necessarily something wrong with converting more than one person at once who wants to convert, or -- gasp! -- actually being nice to them and helping them. After all, it is a mitzvah not to oppress converts (not sure if this applies to a ger toshav, which is I suppose is the status of someone who wants to convert but has not yet converted, because they accept the Noahide laws).

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  29. To clarify, regarding EJF, I was only saying that providing someone with a mentor if they've already on their own expressed interest in conversion (and the mentor is not trying to convince them) doesn't sound like prostelytizing. I accept the argument of R' Reuvein Feinstein that publicly advertizing events in hope of attracting potential converts from mixed marriages is prostelytization. When a non-Jew married to a Jew approaches a rabbi because he or she genuinely wants to convert, and the intention wasn't to do this all along (which would rarely be the case), then I think the convert should be treated like any other convert. It would be best if EJF would disband and let local rabbis handle this issue.

    I don't mean to steer this conversion to EJF. I'm more interested in responses to my last post about Shavei and mass conversions.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 29, 2012 at 6:18 PM

    1 of 4: RaP to yeshaya:

    "yeshaya said...RaP, thanks for the detailed replies."

    RaP: Thanks.

    "You say that they are good halachic decisions, but have any of these decisions (like the Badatz one) actually heard arguments and evidence from BOTH sides of the story?"

    RaP: Good or not so good, they were positions that made good sense given outside corroboration of what Tropper was really like over a very long controversial career. He was an ego-maniac, that then became armed with tens of millions once he hooked up with Toma Kaplan. They both paid a heavy price for their alliance, their goals through EJF, and they brought shame and disgrace upon the many rabbis and even the converts who thought that Tropper and EJF were "kosher" or at least "parev" while in the end Tropper and EJF were revealed to be "treif" and even "toxic"! Only a die-hard blind hypnotized disciple of Tropper would argue otherwise today.

    "If they're just basing it on second-hand accounts by opponents, why would their opinions have any weight? That is, any more weight than with the decisions regarding R' Slifkin, whose books were banned by Gedolim who had not read them, had been lied to about them, and had not heard Slifkin's side of the story (which turned out to be correct, since he has dozens of rishonim agreeing with his approach)."

    RaP: Puh-leeze, to try and compare the Slifkin case with the Tropper case is absurd when Tropper himself was one of the lead attack dogs against Slifkin and that in itself should tell you who you are dealing with, someone who is very rabid! Again, Tropper had a long controversial career BEFORE he founded EJF, and had he just restricted himself to growing his small BT yeshiva in Monsey no-one would have minded, but what the BADATZ, to their great credit, divined VERY early on was that Trickey Tropper was playing a two-faced game, while on the one hand he was telling the Aguda type gedolim that he was going top "raise" the Halachic standards of conversions, what he did not tell them was the other great secret (to them) agenda that he and Tom Kaplan had discussed and planned to proselytize and seek out gentiles to join the Jewish people, and when that came out the gedolim behind Tropper were shown as naive and found it hard to believe, and they were also unfortunately beholden to Tropper and Kaplan by taking big money from them. So it was a mess. Until Tropper self-destructed when he was recorded on tape bartering sex for conversions, and worse, having sex with a potential convert and employee Shannon Orand who went public with her story and was proven by the now notorious sex audio and video tapes.

    "I know it's customary these days (fashionable?) to issue bans without hearing both sides of the story, but is that halachically valid?"

    RaP: No need to be facetious. The fact remains that in the case of Tropper the BADATZ, particularly under its RAAVAD Rav Moshe Shternbuch, the opposition to Tropper and EJF was 100% consistent and validated by events. One can give credit where credit is due. To be subjectively opposed to the BADATZ for no reason also makes no sense.

    "You suggest I'm a Tropper defender."

    RaP: What then? Besides, the main thing in this discussion is to focus on the challenge at hand of Shavei Israel's worldwide proselytization campaigns.

    "I'd never defend him personally, or try to argue he was framed or whatever."

    RaP: Why mention "he was framed" that in itself casts doubts on your goals and methods on this blog.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 29, 2012 at 6:20 PM

    2 of 4: RaP to yeshaya:

    "But I admit to not being convinced that it's prostelytizing to provide non-Jews who are married to Jews with mentors IF they already want to convert and WITHOUT trying to convince them to convert."

    RaP: According to EJF's own advertizing on the web that was only the beginning and small part of their goals. Eventually, they aimed at digging up and "reaching" about a third of the world's population (sic) that they estimated came from Jewish ancestry of one sort or another. Tom Kaplan the funder of EJF viewed it like his other big project "Panthera" to somehow or other go out and find ways to save and revitalize the shrinking population of the world's wild cats and bring them back in big numbers.

    "If it results in the kids being raised Orthodox (if already Jewish) or converting validly (if not already Jewish), and the Jewish partner being observant, then it's a good outcome."

    RaP: Most Orthodox Jews can agree that this is nice in the ideal. But it is easier said than done. Besides, this was not the real objection to EJF or to Shavei Israel who took it on themselves to reach out and proselytize to masses of the gentiles who are or not Jews but may have the slightest links to or desire to become Jews.

    "As long as no one is prostelytized as that word is properly understood, everyone wins."

    RaP: Ok, but that is not what is being discussed. I do not oppose standard Orthodox Halachic procedures for conversions to Judaism to become a righteous convert (Ger Tzedek), even according to lenient Halachic views if need be as long as there is a basis in normative Halacha approved by known poskim or dayanim.

    "The idea put forward by R' Sternbuch, that the existence of such programs will somehow encourage intermarriage, is unconvincing."

    RaP: Oh yeah?

    "After all, millions of secular Jews are already intermarrying. If these secular Jews cared in the slightest what Orthodox rabbis thought, they wouldn't be intermarrying to begin with."

    RaP: Rav Shternbuch does not oppose good kiruv as far as I know. He in fact has a following among certain BTs, especially from South Africa where he lived for some years and worked with secular Jews to mekarev them. However, that does not mean that he should stay quiet and not speak out and warn against reckless acts that target children/students whose fathers are gentiles. Anyone involved in kiruv rechokim today knows that it is a very difficult minefield to tread. One needs to know who to mekarev ("bring close" to Judaism) and who to merachek ("push away" from Judaism) FREQUENTLY ALL AT THE SAME TIME in the spirit of "mekarev beyemin -- umerachek besmol" as it is an art and not a science and certainly Rav Shternbuch is right that there cannot be and should not formalized programs that in effect are proselytizing to people with gentile fathers and no matrilineal descent whatsoever.

    "No, I never said we should accept them as Jews, and to the extent Shavei implies they are halachic Jews already, that's regrettable. They're almost certainly not halachically Jewish, and I'm sure not all of them will convert (if they all did, I'd be worried). For those who do, though, fine."

    RaP: Sounds reasonable.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 29, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    3 of 4: RaP to yeshaya:

    "One important thing to understand, which seems to be little known, is that mass conversions did happen under frum auspices in Eastern Europe....I've also read of similar accounts in the 19th century and earlier."

    RaP: Yes, sometimes gentiles do want to become Jews. I am surprised you do not cite the even more important cases of: 1) The souls that Abraham and Sarah converted, 2) the wives of the Forefathers and the 12 Tribes, 3) Yisro and Tziporah convert, 4) the Eruv Rav who were considered converts, 5) the Kusim (Samaritans), 6) Givonim, 7) King Solomons' 1000 wives, 8) Those who converted "misyahadim" in the times of Ester and her son Cyrus, 9) Intermarried Jews during Ezra and Nechemiah, 10) King Munbaz and Queen Adiabene converts and their people, 11) The Kazars -- all of which are great and significant cases, but in all instances there is no indication or proof from the Torah, the Tanach or the Talmud that the Israelites or the Jews RAN AFTER and TRIED TO RECRUIT=TO PROSELYTIZE these people, and indeed in spite of these events and people, the Jewish people as we know them today RUN AWAY from this type of thing and are defined by their "otherness" and separateness from the gentiles who do not keep the Torah and mitzvot and especially once people, even Jews, fall outside of the Halachic definition of Jewishness they are thus automatically gentiles and not Jews, no matter what Michael Freund says or dreams, and no matter how romantically one wants to bring them back, they are on the sunken Titanic and the remnant is in the surviving lifeboats. That's the story of Jewish history and neither you nor I nor Michael Freund can ever change that!

    "There are enough converts stories around that I think one can be fairly certain that most Ashkenazim have converts in their family tree within the last few hundred years."

    RaP: You are wrong. Can you cite family histories of Jews from Europe THAT YOU KNOW OR KNOW OF that would tell you that they have converts in their midst happening IN EUROPE, especially in Eastern Europe??? I cannot think of one such case.

    In fact in Christendom, whether in the Catholic, Protestant, Greek or Russian Churches, gentiles faced death and extreme ostracism if they even dared to admire Jews let alone convert to Judaism.

    The order of the day was persecution, ghettoization, Pogroms, Crusades and anti-Semitism, culminating in the Holocaust.

    If anything, it was ONLY when Jews ASSIMILATED following the modern Enlightenment when Jews were granted political freedoms that they them began to assimilate, intermarry and finally apostacize as happened in the mostly Western European countries of Germany, France and Great Britain where Jews became Christians and virtually none the other way around!

    In Eastern Europe, the Haskala was more "Jewish" and Jews still stuck together and if they intermarried they ceased to be identified with other Jews ---- until the advent of the modern day new anti-Semitism in the former USSR and many decided to run to Israel without repudiating their openly gentile way of life and ancestry, and we (Israeli Interior Ministry) know who they are yet!

    But almost all Ashkenazic Jews were free of having converts in their midst for a very long time (to assimilate and intermarry meant the end of the Jewish partner who was RUNNING from being Jewish and NOT the "welcoming" of the gentile partner!!!) and to suggest or surmise otherwise is a great slander and historical inaccuracy.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 29, 2012 at 6:29 PM

    4 of 4: RaP To yeshaya:

    RaP: Note again, that in EUROPE once Jews assimilated and intermarried the next step was to baptize and become Christians, while in the USA the process is slower and their is more interfaith tolerance for the Jewish spouse to stay Reform or Conservative or be "unaffiliated" -- but again, this is not the main discussion, conversion is not the issue, the main problem is when Shavei Israel goes out and waves flags and outright recruits gentiles to become Jews and helps them get to Israel to undergo conversions.

    "Given this history, I'm not convinced that there's necessarily something wrong with converting more than one person at once who wants to convert, or -- gasp! -- actually being nice to them and helping them."

    RaP: Stop trying to be funny, this is not a joking matter. Everyone agrees it is important to be "nice" to people. But the Halacha is that one must discourage even an individual genuine righteous potential convert and this is VERY NOT nice! And everyone agrees that an individual or even a group of gentiles can come forth and want to convert. It is not unusual sometimes to find entire families doing this and batei din treat them fairly. But all that is not part of the discussion. We are not debating the requirements for valid conversions that we can all agree on. But what IS under discussion is the efforts of Shavei Israel to undertake a mass recruitment and PR drives to proselytize gentiles, no matter how nice they are and nice its done, to convince or aid them in becoming Halachic Jews. No beit din has such an ongoing program and no beit din supports such an ongoing program, in fact Rav Drukman's efforts and the Neeman Commission's efforts were all shot down even for those gentiles in Israel already, because it's very controversial and requires great consensus among great rabbis and quite a few written rabbinic approvals to go ahead and do such things. You wouldn't eat a simple candy unless it has three hechsherim from three reliable batei din nowadays so why accept gentiles on the whims and fancies of Michale Freund and Shavei Israel that have ZERO halachic power or credibility???!!!

    "After all, it is a mitzvah not to oppress converts"

    RaP: No one is "oppressing" anyone. You are missing the point entirely! The question here is not about how to treat someone who is a genuine ger tzedek already. The Torah tells us it is Mitzvah to love them, but Michael Freund cannot use that Mitzah to go out to search for gazillions of gentiles to see if they are part of the Jewish people as if he were "Elijah the prophet" or the "Messiah" himself -- unless he is suffering from a megalomaniacal delusional messianic complex of course which seems likely given the way he is obsessed with this!! The problem here is something else entirely! It's about the legitimacy of recruiting gentiles in big numbers who are NOT converts, never mind the real problem of calling them "Jews" or "Jewish" when they are still a VERY long way from any formal education or conversion.

    "(not sure if this applies to a ger toshav, which is I suppose is the status of someone who wants to convert but has not yet converted, because they accept the Noahide laws)."

    RaP: Again, this is not the point of this discussion. A Ger Toshav is a GENTILE! Period. We don't know hat they want to do because we are not mind readers. It may surprise you that not all gentiles want to convert fully to Judaism as much as the prosletyzers want them to!!! So why bring that in?

    ReplyDelete
  34. RaP, thank you for all your replies. I may respond more later, but for now I'll just refer you to this book by Rabbi Joseph Lifland, which mentions (if you search for "village" using the look-inside feature) that there were entire villages who converted. Looks like an interesting sefer, but I haven't read the whole thing.

    http://www.amazon.com/Converts-Conversion-Judaism-Rabbi-Lifland/dp/9652292354

    You're certainly right that pogroms and anti-Semitism were the norm, but these things were cyclical, and lots of the peasants were at a very low level, completely illiterate, and understandably looked up to the Jews who at least knew how to read and write. Genetic studies have indicated there must have been at least some conversion (though not a huge amount, to be sure), and I've seen enough blond-haired and blue-eyed Jews -- even whole families of them -- with as far as they know 100% Jewish ancestry in the last few generations that it seems absurd to conclude that they did not have at least some converts in their family tree.

    About the "framed" comments, don't worry, I wasn't trying to hint that I think there's any plausibility to such suggestions made by Tropper or his supporters. I don't.

    I certainly agree that it would be wrong if Shavei were to go around the world trying to convince anyone with the slightest notion of Jewish ancestry to convert. And I think it would far less problematic halachically (perhaps not problematic at all) if an organization just made known to anusim or bnei menashe or whomever that it was there and they could come to it if they were already interested in learning more, and if they tried to convert they would be discouraged as required and only accepted if they were completely committed, and the whole thing only ends up with something 1% or less of the possibly-seed-of-Israel population converting. It's an empirical question where Shavei is on that spectrum. I think you and I just seem to have different guesses about where they fall, with you thinking the former and me the latter.

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  35. RaP, I find it curious that you call my claim that significant coversion occurred in Eastern Europe a "slander." You seem to think I think the conversion resulted from assimilation and intermarriage, as it frequently does today. That's not what I meant (or said). I meant that people simply converted -- sometimes individuals, sometimes families, sometimes entire villages -- because they wanted to join the Jewish people (and some of them were surely killed by anti-Semites or never had children or went back to their old religion, but I'm sure many married born Jews or, if they converted as families, had children who did). Saying so is only a "slander" if one considers it shameful to be descended in part from converts, which makes no sense at all (since Avraham and Sarah were converts, anyone qualified to be Moshiach ben Yishai is descended from Ruth, etc.).

    ReplyDelete
  36. Recipients and PublicityFebruary 1, 2012 at 6:18 PM

    1 of 2: RaP responds to yeshaya's latest:

    "yeshaya said...RaP, thank you for all your replies."

    RaP: You are welcome.

    "I may respond more later, but for now I'll just refer you to this book by Rabbi Joseph Lifland, which mentions (if you search for "village" using the look-inside feature) that there were entire villages who converted. Looks like an interesting sefer, but I haven't read the whole thing. http://www.amazon.com/Converts-Conversion-Judaism-Rabbi-Lifland/dp/9652292354"

    RaP: Not sure if I would use the term "book" and "sefer" equally here. I don't have access to this book. There is nothing in Jewish law to prevent individuals or groups from approaching batei din to get conversions, such as with the nation of the Kazars, but it is an entirely different matter to undertake mass PROSELYTIZATION drives with PR and big money from the Jewish side to go out and act as "rescuers" and "recruiters" when there is no such requirement or allowance in Jewish law. The best Michael Freund can do, and it's a neat trick, is to call them "Jews" or "Jewish" even before they converted or even before they come up with the idea to convert. And he should cut it out.

    "You're certainly right that pogroms and anti-Semitism were the norm, but these things were cyclical, and lots of the peasants were at a very low level, completely illiterate, and understandably looked up to the Jews who at least knew how to read and write."

    RaP: Modern day people do not grasp many things. One is the religious and cultural distance, often enforced and policed from both sides, between Jews and gentiles. Another thing is, the deep extent to which both Jews and gentiles were religious and dominated by their religious hierarchies. On the Christian side the Churches and priests ruled with an iron fist over kings and peasants alike. On the Jewish side the immense strength, prestige, power, and social control wielded by the rabbis and scholars was almost watertight and they would not allow a breakdown in Jewish life to accept converts helter skelter. To grasp this, think of the present time Charedi societies in Bnai Brak or in any Charedi enclaves anywhere, where among Litvish yeshivas and Chasidim no one makes a move or does anything communally without the ok and green light from the rabbonim. In a way it was a self-enclosed world that only started to crack as the Haskala grew, but in religious circles, to this day, the authority of rabbis was absolute and none of them would be so reckless as to welcome huge amounts of Russian peasants into the Jewish people -- you can just see how they fight weak conversionary efforts today concocted by the modern Zionist establishment from time to time.

    "Genetic studies have indicated there must have been at least some conversion"

    RaP: Actually, from what I have heard, according to Dor Yeshorim that conducts genetic tests of religious singles prior to marriage, the amount of non-Jewish genes among religious Jews is almost non-existant. Jews have a unique genetic ID, and on the Dor Yeshorim questionnaires they specifically ask if there has been conversion in the family to help it explain why the results would differ from the Jewish genetic norm among the religious/Orthodox population. Of course tons of Reform and Conservative Jews in the USA are married to gentiles in such huge numbers today that they are moving towards a melting away from the Jewish people in short order.

    "(though not a huge amount, to be sure),"

    RaP: It's very tiny in actual fact.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Recipients and PublicityFebruary 1, 2012 at 6:19 PM

    2 of 2: RaP responds to yeshaya's latest:

    "and I've seen enough blond-haired and blue-eyed Jews -- even whole families of them -- with as far as they know 100% Jewish ancestry in the last few generations that it seems absurd to conclude that they did not have at least some converts in their family tree."

    RaP One cannot make silly "conclusions" and it's bad habit that people have nowadays to assume that somehow there is bad or goyisha "yichus" when they have nothing to prove it. You mentioned genetics, well according to that, regardless of hair and eye color, Jews almost always have the same genes no matter what the color of their skin or the shape of their hair or faces.

    "About the "framed" comments, don't worry, I wasn't trying to hint that I think there's any plausibility to such suggestions made by Tropper or his supporters. I don't."

    RaP: Ok.

    "I certainly agree that it would be wrong if Shavei were to go around the world trying to convince anyone with the slightest notion of Jewish ancestry to convert."

    RaP: But that is EXACTLY what they do and they plan to do lots more of it, according to their own website and PR. They are proud of it, and they do not apologize.


    "And I think it would far less problematic halachically (perhaps not problematic at all) if an organization just made known to anusim or bnei menashe or whomever that it was there and they could come to it if they were already interested in learning more,"

    RaP: Only people like Michael Freund and Leib Tropper think its needed, what does that tell you?! The time, effort and money could help the known Jewish people today in better ways.

    "and if they tried to convert they would be discouraged as required and only accepted if they were completely committed,"

    RaP: Why wait till the end? Just stop the process from happening in the first place.

    "and the whole thing only ends up with something 1% or less of the possibly-seed-of-Israel population converting."

    RaP: Weird term that "possibly-seed-of-Israel population" never seen it before. No notable rabbis use it. Sounds like a wild goose chase, concoction and waste of time.

    "It's an empirical question where Shavei is on that spectrum. I think you and I just seem to have different guesses about where they fall, with you thinking the former and me the latter."

    RaP: Not sure what you think I am thinking. I can read and I can understand and the Shavei Israel message is not unclear, they are and aim to continue PROSELYTIZING to all and sundry who have the slightest connection to or interest in becoming Jews, and they start by calling their potential customers as "Jews" or "Jewish" before they have even met them let alone before they have converted, which Shavei Israel sees as just another "technicality" as it manipulates the various batei din to act as their rubber stamps, but time is not on their side, sooner or later the doors will be shut, as in the times of Mashiach no more converts will be welcomed, so Freund is in a race against time in his rush to pump up his geo-political ZIONIST agenda via PROSELTYZATION to confirmed gentiles who are very far from being Jewish Halachically.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Just to clarify, when I said most Eastern European Jews probably have a convert in their family tree in the last few hundred years, I wasn't saying there were lots of converts. Think about it this way. Eastern European Ashkenazim were in Eastern Europe for about 500 or 600 years between the expulsions of the Middle Ages and the Shoah. 500 years ago, that's 20 generations. That means that for each individual, there were about a million living people 500 years ago who were their direct ancestor (two to the twentieth power is about one million). Actually, it would be somewhat less than a millon because of people marrying their distant relatives. Anyway, of those million or at least several hundred thousand people, there has to be at least a few gerim! If entire villages would convert even during times of great repression, surely at least a small amount of conversion would have occurred in nearly every generation over the 500 years we're talking about. The anti-Semites couldn't have killed them all -- no government or Cossack mob is that efficient.

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  39. In terms of genetic studies, you're right that the vast majority of the genes of Ashkenazim are not of European origin. Various genetic studies have come up with different estimates of how much of the Ashkenazic gene pool came from European non-Jews (meaning in most cases converts, though some of it may have also come from other sources, such as rape or infidelity, ch"v.) One study, for example, estimated that about 5 to 8% of the Ashkenazic paternal DNA (Y-Chromosome) had come from European non-Jews (with Eastern European and Western European Jews having statistically the same rate). Some estimate less. One estimate is of .5% per generation. See this book (and this page in particular) for an overview of the findings of some studies.

    http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=UNczHm67tjIC&oi=fnd&pg=PA9&dq=conversion+judaism+dna&ots=N2GSYW1Jja&sig=GrDBl1jnqPmcfCMaSC9VjNQCiL4#v=onepage&q=paragroup&f=false

    ReplyDelete
  40. Here's a quote from a study published in 2010:

    "Recent reports have reaffirmed that the AJ [Ashkenazic Jewish] population has a common Middle Eastern origin with other Jewish Diaspora populations, but also suggest that the AJ population, compared with other Jews, has had the most European admixture. Our analysis indeed revealed higher European admixture than predicted from previous Y-chromosome analyses."

    http://www.pnas.org/content/107/37/16222.short

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  41. Hi Rabbi,

    Thank you for letting me know about Shavei Yisrael. I think they are making a great kiddush hashem by showing that Jews are welcoming to those in the farthest parts of Galut who may have lost touch with their Jewish heritage and know that the only way they can embrace the 613 mitzvot is to return to Eretz Yisrael, since they are so deep in Galut that there are no Torah-observant communities nearby for them to grow in spiritually or to regularize their non-halachic status. Now I know where to send my tzedaka. Toda raba!

    ReplyDelete

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