Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Criticizing conversion organizations - debases all gerim?

Baruch has left a new comment on your post "A Deeper Look at the current EJF Website and Troub...":

As someone who studied for seven years for geirus, beginning at the age of 14, I am very involved with the controversies surrounding the issue. It should be noted that none of the batei din on this list are, to my knowledge, officially associated with EJF. Instead, the organization simply lists them as acceptable batei din organizations and run by those with deep knowledge of the issues and upstanding members who have studied under and/or gained the trust of rabbonim such as Harav Eliyashiv shlit"a, Harav Amar shlit"a, Harav Feinstein shlit"a, and Rav Eisenstein shlit"a. I was mentored and tutored under one of the batei din listed on the EJF list and never heard anything about EJF from them. Also, my geirus was done by a beis din listed on the list, who also never made any mention of the EJF organization. Please remember that whenever you cast doubts of batei din being able to carry out geirus as a whole, you cast doubts on people like me, who studied for years, adjusted to, adapted with, and completely became part of the Torah world and have complete committment to halacha without any "motivation" by a spouse or partner. I am not saying that geirus shouldn't be more closely watched, and that there shouldn't be more assurance that gerim are truly Torah-practicing people; in fact, it would make it better for people like me. However, I do feel that blanket statements, be they about baeti din or organizations, should not be made, as they cause people to look with unneeded suspicion towards true geirim, which only reminds us over and over that we weren't born Jews, something that is expressly forbidden time and time again by the Torah.

1 comment :

  1. Dear Baruch,

    Thank you for your post. Have you been able to have your gerus verified as acceptable to the Rabbinute in Israel?

    If you have not done so, I would hope that you would do so as soon as possible in order to avoid any potential questions as to your Jewish status now or in the future.

    Neither I nor anyone else is passing judgment upon you or any other ger. The facts as I know them are simply that I have only known of ONE Diaspora convert who was able to make aliyah as a Jew in Israel and who was able to marry as Jew in Israel.

    This is despite being personally involved with dozens of families including my own who have members who have undergone what they believed was an Orthodox conversion in the US.

    Incidentally, the only convert,I know who was able to make aliyah as a Jew turned out to be a Christian missionary. She works for a Church in Bat Yam. I personally learned with this woman as she prepared for her geirus. I am shocked and hurt to have been part of the training of a missionary, but sadly, I have verified that it is true.

    I have a dear friend who married a man who is the son of a Jewish man and a Gentile woman. He attended a Modern Orthodox Day school from kindergarten and only found out that he was not a Jew as a teenager. He studied Judaism for 8 years and converted via the same Beit Din as the woman mentioned above, a Beit Din was on the list of previously accepted Batei Din published by ITIM, Rabbi Seth Farber in 2006.

    My husband and I have been close to this family for 15 years in I helped to make their wedding. This dear man, who is extremely well educated and as sincere as they come, found out that he was not a Jew according to the Israeli Rabbinute when they tried to make aliyah in 2005.

    I do not blame him for feeling like a victim. I know that I surely would in his shoes.

    Incidentally, he was working for an anti missionary organization at the time and he was let go from his job ("lack of funding"). His kids were put out of the yeshiva they attended ("lack of scholarship funds") and he was told by the Rabbi of his shul, the same Rabbi who facilitated his conversion that he could no longer be counted for a minyan.

    The family made the choice to sell their home in an observant neighborhood and to move to an area that is without Jewish life but which has a much lower cost but much higher standard of living.

    The children of this family are 100% Jewish because their mother is a born Jew. They are not in Jewish school now, not keeping kosher and not attending an Orthodox shul. They are also not speaking to me or anyone else from the community in where they lived and grew for 14 years.

    There are no words to describe this tragedy. It is a tragedy of an unintentional intermarriage on the part of a sincerely frum girl who was a Baalas Teshuva and her Jewish children who are growing up with bitterness towards the Jewish people.

    And it is a terrible tragedy for the dear and sincere man who grew up believing he was a Jew, found out he was a Gentile, struggled and did everything he was told to be considered a Jew only to later find out that he is a Gentile in the only place where it really counts, and that is Eretz Yisroel.

    I wish nothing but the best for you and hope that for you it will be different. I would be grateful if you would keep us updated as to your status as a Jew according to the Rabbinute in Israel because I would like to have ANY story of a Diaspora Geirus that has a happy ending. I have too many already in my collection of sad ones.


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