Thursday, February 28, 2008

RCA Announces Establishment of Recognized National Network of Rabbinical Courts for Conversion

Dear Rabbi Eidensohn,

In light of all that is happening publicly on your blogsite, I thought you would find this to be interesting, as it was just posted last night on the RCA website.

The "standards" they refer to are attached as a PDF file. Of interest were part 3d in particular, as well as 5a.
Thank you again for all you are doing.
5a. Where the Conversion is Primarily for the sake of Marriage

i. Where marriage to a particular Jewish partner is a major incentive to a prospective conversion, there is an increased possibility that the geirus may come with less than the complete commitment necessary for a conversion that would be in keeping with the standards we are trying to set for the regional Batei Din. Nonetheless, experience also shows that such a motivation can result in converts of the highest caliber. Conversion for the sake of marriage therefore requires the Beit Din to constantly reevaluate if the candidate and future partner are likely to subscribe to the requisite beliefs and practices. The Beit Din must be convinced that if the potential spouse were to disappear from the candidate’s life, his or her commitment to the Jewish faith and people would not waver. These factors inevitably prolong the process and make examination of the prospective convert more intense. Indeed, should the couple mention a proposed wedding date as a deadline or goal, the Beit Din should respond that the process will take significantly longer than that.

5 c. Requirements of Other People in a Candidate’s Life

i. When a candidate is previously intermarried or is converting for the sake of an individual Jew (as per above), the spouse’s observance level and attitudes must be consistent with the present and future Torah observance of the candidate and not be a source of conflict or opposition to the convert’s adopting a halachic lifestyle. The Beit Din should also consider whether other significant individuals in the candidate’s life such as parents, or any existing minor children, will have an impact on the success or failure of the process and the aftermath of conversion.

5d.ii. Intermarried Couples, those living Together, and Single Women.
The requirement for havchana is also relevant when the gentile partner in an intermarriage converts, or where the couple was living with each other outside of wedlock. In such cases, the regional Bet Din should require the couple to separate for at least three months prior to conversion, which is in any event necessary in order for the couple to demonstrate their readiness for a life of full Torah observance. In consultation with the BDA, the regional Beit Din will determine whether any of the leniencies described above apply in any particular case.


Feb 26, 2008
-- The Rabbinical Council of America, the largest Orthodox rabbinic group in the world, has today announced the establishment of a North American network of rabbinical courts for conversion. The network, established with the enthusiastic agreement of the RCA membership at large, creates uniform standards of Orthodox conversion. The network will benefit genuine converts and their offspring, by facilitating their acceptance in Jewish communities around the world. The courts, a number of which are already functioning in major communities, will involve the active leadership of local rabbis in all phases of the conversion process. The courts will adhere to the protocol for conversion procedures issued some months ago by the RCA.

Key to the success of the network will be the maintenance of permanent and comprehensive databases for future reference, as well as close consultation and cooperation among the various rabbinical courts, rabbinic organizations, and communal leadership groups.

The network of Rabbinical Courts for Conversion under the supervision of the Rabbinical Council of America and its affiliated Beth Din of America is committed to perform conversions in accordance with the highest standards of halachah, and is recognized throughout the Diaspora and in Israel by the Chief Rabbinate.


  1. Question for Rabbi Eidensohn:

    The RCA claims that their network of Rabbinical Courts for Conversion is recognized by the Chief Rabbinate.

    Is this true?

  2. That is what was reported in the Jerusalem Post.

    Israel-US conversion authority crisis resolved (JERUSALEM POST) By MATTHEW WAGNER 02/22/08) Source:

    In a move that ends a central dispute between the two largest Orthodox rabbinic organizations in the world, the Chief Rabbinate has agreed to recognize conversions performed by the Rabbinic Council of America.

    Until now, RCA conversions were not automatically accepted by the Chief Rabbinate.

    The Jerusalem Post has learned from sources in the Chief Rabbinate that in an agreement to be announced Monday, it has approved a list of about 15 RCA rabbinic courts and around 40 rabbinic judges across the US as authorized to perform conversions.

    Courts and judges not on the list will not be automatically recognized.

    The RCA and the Chief Rabbinate also agreed that conversions performed in the past by judges who are not on the new list will need the approval of Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz, the octogenarian head of the RCA-affiliated Beth Din of America.

    New conversion judges who wish to be included on the list will need to receive the approval of Rabbi Hershel Shachter, head of the Rabbi Isaac Elhanan Theological Seminary at Yeshiva University in New York, and Rabbi Mordechai Willig, deputy head of the Beth Din of America and a professor of Talmud at the university.

    As part of the agreement, Rabbi Moshe Nidam, a representative of the Chief Rabbinate, will help approve new religious court judges together with Shachter and Willig.

  3. That was the Post article....but I haven't seen an announcement of this allegedly "approved list" from the Rabbinate in Israel.

    I wonder if this is more of the same -- RCA leaking information that makes it appear as though they have the Bracha of the Rabbinate in Israel (meaning all their past "conversions" will be accepted) when in reality they do not.


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