Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Article requested by Jewish Press

The Jewish Press requested that I send in a more detailed comment which they said they will publish in the print edition. This is what I submitted

The Bedatz’s criticism of Eternal Jewish Family

The Bedatz of the Eidah Chareidis has recently brought some disturbing developments to our attention. [This is the actual Bedatz not an unofficial offshoot]. I must note that I am not a neutral observer in this matter. I played a minor role in aiding Rav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita obtain information from the Internet as well as translating and distributing two letters. [See my blog Daas Torah - http://daattorah.blogspot.com/ ] While I have some knowledge of Rav Moshe Feinstein’s zt”l views as the author Yad Moshe - my comments are what I have heard from Rav Sternbuch and other rabbonim.

Last Chanukah, Rav Efrati described Rav Eliashiv’s views concerning teaching Torah in a non‑observant community which has non‑Jews who think that they are Jewish. Concerning intermarried couples he says: “Rav Eliashiv, shlita has repeatedly said that those living as intermarried couples cut themselves off from the Jewish people. Furthermore he holds that we are obligated to distance ourselves from them and their society and to cut off all connection with them. However this community is different because its members mistakenly think that the non‑Jewish spouses are Jewish. Therefore it is permitted to maintain ties with the Jewish spouses in order to draw them closer through ties of love and to bring them under the wings of the Shechina.” This shunning of intermarried couples has always been the normative approach.

Nevertheless, what if a couple comes to a rabbi and asks for the non‑Jewish spouse to be converted? While there are dissenting views – there are many great rabbinical authorities which permit conversion as last resort - if the Jewish spouse becomes observant and the non‑Jewish spouse sincerely accepts the obligation to keep all mitzvos.

Why did the Bedatz issue their protest against participation in Eternal Jewish Family (EJF) – despite it being supported by many gedolei Torah? Because EJF is actively pursuing the conversion of the non‑Jewish spouse! Rav Leib Tropper, the head of the organization, has repeatedly denied proselytizing because he says he is only dealing with couples referred to him by rabbis. However it is difficult to understand his denials since proselytizing simply means trying to convince someone to change their religion. That is clearly what EJF is doing. It is a fact that Rav Tropper spends hundreds of thousands of dollars per convention to persuade a handful of uncertain or curious couples that they should become Jews. Those who are certain are not invited. These intermarried couples are given free conventions at quality resort hotels where they are wined and dined and given an intensive program by the world’s best religious motivational speakers – all in the hope that they will decide to convert.

In a recent intensive exchange of e-mails, I asked Rav Tropper the halachic rulings of Rav Moshe Feinstein he claims as the basis for EJF’s activities. His response was, “Why do you think it is prohibited?” This is an astounding justification for a radical break with the past. While in fact it is not explicitly prohibited – this radical innovation of spending millions of dollars to convince non‑Jews to convert presents serious dangers to the Jewish people. It requires acceptance or rejection through scholarly discussion in peer-reviewed responsa - as innovations have been justified in the past.

Daniel Eidensohn Ph.D.


  1. Thank you for this exceptionally well written article, I hope that the Jewish Press will print it.

    Personally, I am obsessed with the expensive menu at the Oxnard retreat because I cannot help but contrast the luxurious dishes served to proselytize Gentiles at a posh resort to the needs of the many hungry Jewish children in Israel and the US.

    I also cannot help but contrast the expensive accomodations at EJF's luxurious conferences to the 1200 name long waiting list for the Ben Gamla Charter School in FL.

    I don't think it is unfair to say that the parents who are moving to the district are doing so because they cannot afford Day School tuition but desperately want at least some sort of Hebrew education for their children. It should be noted that the majority of the 400 children who already attend the school are from observant Jewish homes.

    And yet, at least in South Florida day schools, a sizable percentage of both seats and tuition assistance continues to be given to Gentile children with biological Jewish fathers, in hopes that they will grow up to convert.

    I have been tracking this for the past generation. Few of the Gentile students at these day schools actually complete a halachic conversion. They simply self identify as Jews and have the education and social contacts to pull it off.

    Often the families will switch schools or move and enter the next school stating that the mother is a born Jew. Why not? The man who chooses to intermarry (and it IS always a willing choice) has already committed a most serious crime against G-d and the Jewish people, so WHY NOT lie on the yeshiva admission form?

    In this way the policy of admitting Gentiles to Jewish schools does nothing but cause MORE intermarriage. When a young man or woman is presented for a shiddach and he/she is yeshiva educated, few families will check to find out if the person is even Jewish!!!

    Here in South Florida, I personally know of several yeshiva educated Gentiles who NEVER converted, who work as Rabbis, Sofrim, Mashgichim, teachers or who are married to Rabbis or the children of Rabbis. I also know of several marriages that have been annulled during the week of Sheva Brachot when it was discovered that one or the other of the couple was not Jewish!!!

    In the course of investigating potential shidduchim for my own children, no less than HALF of the those who have been presented to us by well meaning Rabbis and shadchanim have been GENTILES!!! My friends and relatives around the US have told me the same.

    I KNOW this sounds CRAZY. If anyone would have told me 20 years ago that when my children would be looking for shidduchim HALF of the potential shidduchim presented for them by Rabbis and shadchanim would be yeshiva educated GOYIM I would have also thought that was crazy.

    But,unfortunately, it is not only CRAZY but it is TRUE.

  2. As a secular-raised Jew (not frum) married to a goya undergoing conversion via the EJF, I must tell you from the bottom of my hear to please drop dead.

    It's because of Jews like you that 85% of our people want nothing to do with Hashem, Torah & Mitzvot.

    May the Aybishter see fit to show you the errors of your close-minded ways as painlessly as possible, for your own sake. You are committing the worst of aviras. May Hashem show you mercy when He asks you why you were responsible for so many possible frum Jews being thrown back into the secular world.

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