Thursday, April 10, 2008

Proselytizing by Reform Conservative & Orthodox

The following should be of interest as to what is going on

Rabbi Vinas as described in New York Times article - Baltimore Jewish Times
Rabbi Aaron Ziegler

Conservative outreach,
Jewish Outreach Institute



  1. I don't see the relevance of the profile of Rabbi Zeigler. Why is it included?

  2. Rigoberto Emmanuel Vinas is from Miami. His parents are from Cuba, and say they are descended from "conversos". (There was never any way to document this).

    The family was believed to have "Jewish" customs passed down through the generations and this was the basis for their "return" to Judaism.

    Muslims, Christians and Jews share many of the same religious and cultural practices. Spain was a Muslim country until 1492 when its provinces were united under Catholicism.

    The Vinas family was "converted" in Miami in the late 70s and the children were enrolled in yeshiva.
    The Rabbi who converted the Vinas family has not been able to have any of his conversions accepted in Israel despite the fact that the Rabbi himself accompanied several families to the Rabbinute's Office of Conversion to vouch for their sincerity.

    Rabbi Vinas went to YU and earned YU's Smicha. Rabbi Avi Weiss helped Rabbi Vinas in his "outreach" to Hispanic Gentiles who believe they are "conversos" by donating space at the Riverdale Jewish Center for Vinas' "kiruv" programs.

    Rabbi Vinas teaches in various programs of all Jewish denominations throughout the NY area. He is the editor of Tora Tropical a Spanish language Jewish newspaper that I try to read whenever I can and is also very involved in Casa Shalom, the Institute for Marrano Anusim studies and B'chol Lashon Institute which outreaches to Jews of Color.

    At a 2005 B'chol Lashon Conference in San Francisco, Rabbi Vinas informed his audience that there are "millions of people all over South and Latin America who converted (to Christianity) and then melded into the indigenous population". Vinas goes on to recount that "his own great-grandmother lit candles on Friday nights and gave the children blessings. Around Easter she gave away bread and cookies."

    Vinas told the group that once he tracks anusim down, he coaxes them back to Judaism.

    It is an interesting custom among many Catholics to light candles on Friday nights in remembrance of the day on which Jesus was crucified. Some have speculated that this is a leftover custom from Jews who converted to Catholicism 500 years ago.

    I have Catholics in my neighborhood growing up remove the breads, cakes and cookies from their homes on the Saturday before Easter and bring them to the Church as gifts to the poor. The priest will then bless the family's sustenance this way and the family then takes back a portion of their gift for their own Easter feast.

    Growing up, we also noted that our Catholic neighbors made cheesecakes for Pentacost and also ate lamb for Easter.Italian Catholics eat a New Year's Eve dinner that is generally identical to the Rosh Hashana seder of Sephardic Jews. These customs are fascinating and many scholars have wondered "who got what from who?"

    1. his smicha is from Rabbi Ziegler not YU.

    2. @DT_May a convert be one of the dayanim in a Beis Din for geirus?

    3. Rav Sternbuch told me that a dayan should not be a member of a beis din for geirus. One of links below has a recording of Rav Herschel Schacter saying the same thing. It in fact is malchlokes of poskim as discussed in one of the links below - but practically speaking a ger should not be a dayan to avoid causing a question as to the validity of the geirus.

  3. Larry Lennhoff said...

    I don't see the relevance of the profile of Rabbi Zeigler. Why is it included?
    He is Rabbi Vinas's rebbe. The following is found on the web page of Rabbi Vinas :

    Rabbi Viñas also has “Yoreh Yoreh” ordination from Kollel Agudath Achim under the leadership of Rabbi Aharon Zeigler of Boro Park, Brooklyn, New York. He also has a second “Yoreh Yoreh” ordination from Yeshivah VeKollel Zichron Hizkiahu Yoel of Boro Park Brooklyn, New York. At present Rabbi Viñas is continuing his studies at Kollel Agudath Achim for semicha as a Dayan – judge “Yadin Yadin” from his Rebbi, Rabbi Aharon Ziegler.

  4. In the picture that accompanies the NY Times article, it appears as though Rabbi Vinas is davening at the amud and yet men and women are seated together in the background.

    The website link states:

    "The Lincoln Park Jewish Center is a Modern Orthodox Congregation that can best be described as an “un-orthodox Orthodox congregation.”

    Does an "un-orthodox Orthodox congregation" have a mechitza?

  5. Anonymous wrote:
    "Does an "un-orthodox Orthodox congregation" have a mechitza?"

    This issue was address on the website of the shul

    Mechitza- We have installed a temporary mechitza made of plants down the center aisle of the synagogue and a short curtain in the chapel. The Mechitza in the sanctuary requires a lot of care and I have replaced the plants many times but they still die due to the lack of light in the sanctuary. I installed the plants myself and occasionally change them when I see that they are no longer aesthetically pleasing. The Mechitza in the chapel is in the front on the left hand side. I made this myself and installed it. Mr. Jack Greenberg suggested that we remove some of the seats nearest the wall in order to allow for movement in the ezras nashim. I removed two seats and this worked out very well. I have proposed that we create a stained glass and wood framed mechitza that would match the décor of the sanctuary. The artist has completed the drawings for the panels which would feature Jewish life cycle events depicted within a Star of David to match the windows. Following the same pattern as the plants, it would be 40 inches high and not obstruct views in either direction. I have also requested that the mechitza be made with wheels on the bottom so that it could be removed for events that do not require its presence.


    The above document was last updated four years ago.

    I hope that by now there is a more permanent arrangement.

    Here is a picture of the sanctuary as of October 2005

  7. "Jersey girl" 's information is incorrect even though she sounds as if she were an expert on the subject of Rabbi Vinas and his family she is not.

    The practice of family customs in my family was not a subject of any process that my family participated in. If you know so much about the Rabbi who supposedly converted me name him. Let me give you a hint what you said about the Rabbanut is not true since he has never been involved in anyone else's process of return or conversion. lol And I have in my hands paper work from the Rabbanut that proves that you are a liar.
    I don't have smicha from YU. I learned for Kabalahin sofrut at Yu Because Rabbi Shmuel Schneid of Monsey NY who is my Rebbe taught me sofrut there.
    Rabbi Weiss is not the Rabbi of the Riverdale Jewish Center he is the Rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. The outreach was not to Hispanic Gentiles there are Jews who come from Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Cuba., etc.
    I am not very involved in Casa Shalom. It is headed by Gloria Mound who is a frum lady from Israel who contacted me regarding her studies of anusim and I shared with her what I know. I am a professor of the subject at a major college in NYC.

    You dishonor the mesorah as handed down in Jewish Families when you cast doubts upon the validity of my family's mesorah it is just as holy as yours. Besides I claim my Jewishness from my belief right now in Torah and Poskim not just the past.
    Regarding anonymous' posting: you cant see the mechitza because it is behind me. The mechitza is 50 inches high and the quotes posted by the blogger are taken from my website and specifically a section that I used to encourage the syagogue to create a mechitza and to accept it. Its called negotiation and motivation as a means to change a formerly conservative congregation to "upgrade" to Orthodox. Please try to be intelligent negotiations are made with tact and assurances to try to persuade people to cooperate with progress and we were successful. Mr Jack Greenberg was one of the greatest opponents to the mechitza so using his name and getting his suggestions regarding the mechitza is a tactically intelligent thing to do. The mechitza relies on creating different reshuyot for the men and for the women for tefillah according to halacha. The condition of hiring me was that the synagogue would declare itself Orthodox, switch siddurim, install a mechitza etc. We did all of this. There are many new Orthodox Families here and some of the former members have become observant. I was able to save a shul from being closed, transform it to Orthodox and do the right thing. The "unorthodox orthodox thing" is shtick sometimes called marketing it makes people come check it out and it has worked.
    Jersey girl if I wasn't married with children I would think you had a crush on me are you one of my many fans throughout the world? Are you perhaps the "fan" that tried to get information from me by sending me nasty emails and wanted to know the name of the Rav but you got frustrated because I wouldn't give it to you. Well if so now I see your newest outlet of frustration. Perhaps it has something to do with your Crazy Eddy connection.

    1. Rabbi Vinas discusses the issues in greater detail here

  8. @Rabbi Vinas-Why do you think so many people have a grudge or are angry at you.You refer to them as "stalkers" or "followers"?You even said that there is a man who tried e-mailing you in some attempt to get the rabbi's name who did a conversion in Miami in the 70s.Also what is your response top Das Torah who said a ger may not act as a Dayan in a Beis Din that does geirus.What say you Rabbi Rigaberto?


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