Monday, July 2, 2007

RaP: Proselytization in Latin America

MISHPACHA Jewish Family
Weekly 2 Tammuz 5769
Pages 38 – 45"

RaP: Mishpacha magazine for hire continues in its path of publishing stories that promote proselytization, such as in the path with highlighting reaching out to the doubtful Subbotniks and the questionable Jews of Poland by Shavei Israel, and many such articles that seem to always land up mentioning the Anusim/Marranos in a good light, when their status is highly doubtful after 500 years of being lost.

Puerto Rico to Pupa: Rabbi Avraham Goldstein’s Journey from Delivery Boy to Ger Tzedek

By Barbara Bensoussan

With his Monsey residence; Chassidic ensemble of shtreimel, beard, and peyos; and juicy Yiddish, it’s hard to believe that Rabbi Avraham Goldstein’s roots lie in Puerto Rico. But that’s precisely where his unusual journey to Judaism began. Goldstein proceeded through a Williamsburg delivery route to an Orthodox conversion, to yeshivos in Baltimore and Brooklyn and the Pupa Chassidus. Now a violin dealer who’s made it his mission to advocate for South American geirim, he approaches all his diverse roles with an unbounded sense of joy in Judaism.

RaP: If this is all there was to his story it would be fine, but he has taken on more roles for himself than merely being a regular Jew.

"…fourteen-year-old Eduardo Torres…wanted nothing more in December of 1981 than to leave Puerto Rico and go to cold, inhospitable New York…some twenty-eight years have passed since then, but today Torres, better known in the community as Rabbi Avraham Goldstein, lives with his wife and children in Monsey, runs his own business and is ceaselessly busy helping geirim, baalei teshuvah, and anyone else who might benefit from his support."

RaP: Nowhere in this article is it made very clear who exactly gave him semicha to be ordained to undertake the rabbinical counseling and pastoral work, even though he spent time in a few yeshivas and some Chasidishe kehilas.

"Goldstein’s efforts to aid converted Jews and baalei teshuvah in South America ultimately culminated in the creation of an organization entitled Toiras Jesed [Chesed], which has the help and haskamah of Rav Chaim Eliezer Brown and Rav Yitzhak Mandel of Monroe"

RaP: What kind of "haskamah" is this? It should at least be in writing and should have been published with the article that is after all promoting this evidently proselytizing missionary cause, to give it proper Halachic legitimacy.

"Toiras Jesed even mounted a brand-new community designed specifically for geirim in the countryside of Puerto Rico

RaP: Throughout this article, the word "geirim" is used VERY loosely and ambiguously and it's very obvious that it often means people who WISH TO BECOME geirim, but who are not yet at the point where they can be Halachically and officially referred to as "geirim". In any case, why would people who have converted 100% need a separate community in far-off Puerto Rico? when almost all dayanim performing legitimate conversions insist that a gentile who has become a ger tzedek must live in a Torah community or be very near to one where geirim can lots of guidance, and not be detached from the world in a far-off Potemkin village of people who are being kept in seclusion it seems until they can become true gerim, but then, why the need to provide such a service at all isn't it according to Halacha to DISCOURAGE geirim and not to help them by building sponsored villages for them?

"In the Beginning. Perhaps it is no coincidence that Rabbi Goldstein’s original name was Torres. “The first Jew to come to America was named Luis de Torres…and Torres was a typical Marrano name.” Many of the early settlers of the New World were practicing Jews or Anusim who came fleeing the Inquisition, and lately it has become something of a fad among Hispanic groups to trace their Jewish origins…"

RaP: Mishpacha magazine for hire has a fatal weakness for somehow or other always bringing around the remotest subjects about dispersed "Jews" to the subject of the Anusim/Marranos. One wonders why that is so and why they are so invested in this very suspicious line of publishing? Hopefully it is not because of some kind of hidden ecumenical agenda that will eventually seek to make most of the Christian world into "Anusim" or whatnot.

"…Finally, almost two years after his arrival in New York, Rabbi Tress and Rabbi Weberman brought the sixteen-year-old young man to the mikveh, where he emerged as Avraham ben Avraham. He later changed his name to Goldstein after the first rabbi who taught him…Rav Yidel Leib Frank, a Breslover Dayan…asked Goldstein to attend his Shemini Atzeres seudah…at the seudah sat the woman who would later become his wife, a young lady from Mexico whose conversion had been overseen by Rav Frank himself. ”My wife is originally from Guadelajara…she was advised to complete her conversion in Israel."

RaP: Seems the whole world wants to become more Jewish except for the millions of born secular Jews who are running the other way as they assimilate, intermarry and apostasize by the millions. It is truly an olam hafuch!

"Reaching Out to Other Newcomers. Rabbi Goldstein’s “family” has expanded yet more as he reaches to other geirim… he formed an organization entitled “Toiras Chesed” (or “Toiras Jesed in Spanish spelling) to help other geirim, particularly those from Spanish-speaking countries. “It’s very hard for geirim in South America",

RaP: This is where the red line is crossed and he leaps into proselytizations as an organization. Note again, that the word "geirim" is used incorrectly here yet again because it's wannabe geirim that are the subject and not people who have undergone a full halachic geirus in front of an established bais din. Also, why is he busy with this? Who asked him to do this? Besides it being a good story-line and a money-magnet this is skating on thin ice whereby any rabbi who is also a ger is NOT allowed Halachically to perform geirus, and here he is obviously pushing to breaking point the boundaries to that..

"he explains, “because many of the Ashkenazim are not so religious, but most of the Sephardic communities hold by an old gezeirah that forbids their congregants to admit geirim"

RaP: No need to knock the Halachically Jewish Ashkenazim they are still 100% Jews and must be approached with total and pure ahavas Yisroel -(even if they be less religious, ga'ava is never nice, especially from a ger) --there is no "mitzva" to love a goy, even if he /she has ambitions to become a ger one day, they can always be encouraged to keep the sheva mitzvos of Bnai Noach which is good enough, they DO NOT require geirus at every twist and turn! -- and the Sefardim (they have their reasons and rabbonim who guided them on this) all in order to make bunch of Hispanic gentiles who are not even Jews to begin with look good. Mishpacha magazine for hire is showing a lack of sechel here for publishing this.

…”It’s hard to find anyone to convert you...”

RaP: And so it should be! This is good Halachically and good for the Jews! Who needs conversion spas and sponsorship of geirim? Is Uncle Tom Kaplan or his nephew of Shavei Israel sponsoring this? Perhaps some Chasidim with cash to burn who want to show that not just Israel can attract and settle geirim (like they recently did with the Yemenites they brought to Monsey)? The article should make clear who is REALLY sponsoring this financially and who is behind paying for the story to be published in Mishpacha magazine for hire yet again on such a theme, is it maybe an Evangelical Christian group? Anything is possible in this day and age.

"Goldstein points out that if there was a large choice of shuls and mikvaos it wouldn’t be a problem"

RaP: Again, as far as geirus, there is NO "problem" because it is good Halachicaly and good for the Jews that these barriers exist. Judaism does not need a flood of Hispanic or any geirim from this.

"but in South America the options are more limited."

RaP: This is GOOD Halachically, and good for the Jews, and NOT "bad" as his statement and Mishpacha make it seem

"In Mexico City, he claims Rabbi Jabra’s shul is the only one that allows geirim to belong. “Rav Pinchas Rabinowitz and Rav Tropper, who do conversions in Monsey, are really trying to stir things up in Mexico to make life easier for geirim,” Goldstein says…"

RaP: Aha, so Tropper and one of his enablers is now part of this story. It figures. Seems Tropper can't resist going down the path of stirring up trouble anywhere and everywhere there is a crack and they let him in. Doesn't Tropper have anything better to do than to facilitate yet another wrong-headed and misguided proselytization effort now in Latin America, when there are millions of born Halachic Jews who are secular closer to home in the USA and Israel who need kiruv.

"Because the options for geirim in South America are so limited,"

RaP: Again, this is good Halachically and good for the Jews, because it has never been the goal or desire of any rov or true manhig in Yisroel to help potentially limitless numbers of goyim become geirim. "Goldstein set about creating his own special community for geirim and baalei teshuvah of all backgrounds in Puerto Rico

RaP: Who asked him to do this? Is it Halachically permissible?

"With the help of other geirim and some sympathizers in New York, he raised funds for his Toiras Jesed organization and bought a small tract of land in Myaguec, Puerto Rico…He has already begun helping establish similar communities in Venezuela and Colombia "

RaP: Who are the mysterious enablers and financiers who are pushing this and obviously using him as the front man, so that they can avoid getting copped for the Halachic avla they are doing by setting up proselytizing communities?

"In other locations in South America, he helps geirim hook up with sympathetic rabbis and community members. “There us such a hunger for Torah,” he maintains, “I went to Colombia for Shabbos Chanukah, invited by 150 people who want to become geirim…"

RaP: Finally, some accuracy. These people are wannabe geirim not the real thing yet. Funny how it's gentiles nowadays who thirst for Torah yet secular Jews couldn't be bothered with it. Olam hafuch.

"In Venezuela, there’s a group of about fifteen families living in the middle of nowhere, who learned about Torah on the Internet and all want to become Jewish. You should see them! They’re all dressed like Jews, and they look like a bunch of Sephardim".”

RaP: Most Hispanics look like "Sefardim", so what? it's no reason to roll out a long-distance red carpet to welcome them as honorary Jews. And yes, the Internet is making a huge impact in the way people learn and live, just take this blog for example...

"Goldstein qualifies that he mostly works with people who have been referred to him by rabbis. “But lots of people approach me, because they see me as a ger who is stable and successful, who has a good track record. The rabbis trust my judgment when I send people to them, and they in turn often send people to me".”

RaP: All this activity, from Goldstein's perspective, is basically for one purpose to promote proselytization which is highly controversial and problematic Halachically and will be bad for the Jews down the line as these nebulous cases are lined up for factory-like conversion in conversion-mills that he is trying to help and grease and kick-start into action.

"Kiruv in Colombia. Reb Avraham sharing his passion for Judaism with local geirim."

RaP: "Kiruv" has NOTHING to do with geirim as such. Kiruv in its strict and classical definition means reaching out to secular and less religious BORN JEWS and bringing them closer to Torah-true Yiddishkeit. On the other hand missionizing and proselytizing to gentiles goes against thousands of years of normative Jewish life, practice and history. "Moving beyond the superficial…

”Judaism is like an air conditioner. You have the mechanical part and the part that brings in fresh air. As I see it, many of us often get too caught up in the mechanics of the system…as a ger…my job is to bring in lots and lots of fresh air.”

RaP: This is one of funniest and yet most revealing comments. Does he honestly think that bringing infinite numbers of Hispanic geirim into Klal Yisroel is like an "air conditioner" bringing in "fresh air" ??? -- has this man never heard of kashim geirim leYisroel kesapachas and all the problems it has and is creating for the world-wide Jewish and Torah communities ??? as they grapple existentially with the onslaughts of all sorts of schemes for gentiles to gain entry into Klal Yisroel, even with the help of ultra-haredi well-meaning rabbis who act more like Christian missionaries, lehavdil than like humble Jews focused on minding their own affairs who should be busy with their own business and not running around the world looking under every rock and in every village if there are any misnamed "lost Jews" or wannabe geirim to bring home like trophies from the hunt.


  1. RaP's comments (although he may be correct in a lot of what he says) have the word "Hispanic" way too many times. It reads like a racist rant.

  2. That is because he is a racist and a instigator, he has no idea about Rabbi Goldstein and his work. he has helped with his "air conditioner" many regular jews and out of the 1300 people that he interviewed for conversion for 22 years only 27 had achieved conversion. Kashe gerim k sapachas has many meanings including that these guerim tend to become very religious and bring back people that long ago gave up in judaism that hurts the ego of some regular jews who think of being the elite. may I suggest that instead of talking out of your nose and feet, find out before you tear apart what you have no idea about. you should work on the evils of motsei shem ra and the terible harm it causes the jewish people. Rabbi Goldstein will breing the geula closer WHILE YOU WITH SINAS CHINAM EXTEND IT.....

  3. As a "Hispanic" "ger", I am insulted by the insinuations in your comments that Rabbi Goldstein is proletyzing throughout Latin America. That is most incorrect and you also have taken many items in the article completely out of context. The fact is that these people literally in the middle of nowhere have tapped into some spiritual stirring deep within their souls and have searched for meaning. They have contacted Rabbi Goldstein since they feel he can help them and understand them on a level very few others can. From personal experience, I know that he details for them how hard it is to be a Jew and how difficult it is to stay on the derech all the moreso with their diverse backgrounds. Furthermore he does encourage them to live in a frum community which is why the many converts that Rabbi Goldstein has helped live in Monsey or in other established communities.

    Your misinterpretation of the article and of Rabbi Goldstein's work is what we converts have experienced throughout our lives from other Ashkenazi Jews - an attempt to disconnect us and questions our devotion to Torah.

    As for your comments that many born Jews are disconnected from Torah and totally off the derech, that really has nothing to do with Rabbi Goldstein's line of focus, but should be the focus of other Rebbeim if they so choose to help bring in those lost souls as well. In my opinion the neshomas that are lost today in the form of Jews that have lost their way or neshomas that are wondering amongst the goyishe nations are both needing to be brought back to its source - whether by Rabbi Goldstein or other Rebbeim. When we all open our eyes and unite as one Jewish nation and not the fragmented nation we have become, perhaps then we can bring the geula closer.

    Also, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know Christianity is a made up false religion. The movement away from fairy tales and towards truth has started and with this will come cynics from within our midst. We all remember there were Jews that wanted to remain in Mitzraim and doubted Moshe all the way to the desert..


  5. I like this line in the article:

    "We were all idol worshipers at the begining. We are all guerim some earlier and some later"

    you hear that Rabbi Eidensohn?

  6. Daniel said...

    I like this line in the article:

    "We were all idol worshipers at the begining. We are all guerim some earlier and some later"

    you hear that Rabbi Eidensohn?
    Of course I heard that - it is a paraphrase of what the Torah itself says. However it is not a heter to do whatever you feel like in connection with conversion. It is not an excuse to throw out halacha or the respect for gedolim who devote their lives to understand the halacha. It doesn't mean that those who pass off a phoney understanding of geirus on unsuspecting non-Jews get a free pass. It is not even an excuse for sincere and caring people to distort the halacha because their version is "more humane".

    So what is your point?

  7. Since you admited that you are also a "ger" Rabbi, come to Latin America and see in what synagogue they let you enter (you may need Rabbi Goldstein's help) . The "olam hafuch" was before Rabbi, now all the neshomas are going to where they belong that is why some are going away and some are becoming jewish. Read the ohr ha chayim ha kodosh.

  8. Rabbi Eidensohn, its been pointed out to you several times that you are assuming the unknown however you dont seem to hear. You have no Idea who Rabbi Goldstein is or what is he thinking or doing.
    You said:
    "is not even an excuse for sincere and caring people to distort the halacha because their version is "more humane"."

    I hope that Hashem will not judge you by this strict justice.

    No one has distorted Halacha, the reality is that you had made yourself the only police that has the right to tell whos conversion is Kosher. You do this by a process of judging blindly and creating scenarios that dont exist. You took the article and decide to ignore the points he made. The gerim that Rabbi Goldstein helped convert are all great people. Ask Yeshiva Ner Israel about some of his talmidim or ask the community where they live. I believe that Rabbi Goldstein is the bigest expert on Gerim because "ein chochom kbal nisayion".

  9. I read this blog and was in shock by the tenore of the entire story. Without a doubt there is a sense in RaP that the Askenazic community are more "blue blood" than the Sephardic community. I will admit,that they have been more prone to deal with conversions in an overwhelming level in the Askenazic community. In Latin America, many Rabbi have prohibited conversions there for various reasons, but have always been open to recieve great sums of money for would be converts. One such family who came out of colombia, had to pay $20,000 and still was not properly converted until they arrived in the US without being converted, and financially weighing less than their non-hispanic counter part. After some direction, they did achieve their conversion in the US under a Beit Din that is recognized by Israel.

    The attitude of those wanting to convert to Judaism from hispanic or Latin American Countries has always been skewed with suspicion from the certain groups inside the halls of Jewry (as so beautifully demonstrated in this blog by RaP). Had I known Mr Torres before he changed his last name to one that would be more acceptable to the Ashkenazic community, I would have told him to not even waste your time. You will alway be looked at as the "spic" that you are.Be proud of your surname, which may have more Yichus than some in the ashkenazic community. But one thing is cleare having a Sephardic Surname, as an Askenazic Surname does not make one a Jew. This who have been force to live in a culture which underminded the legacy of the Jews of Spanish is a part of history which has been purposely slighted in the history of a post holocaust world. Unlike the holocaust where millions of Jews died (Kiddush Hashem), hundreds of thousands of Jews took upon themselves to live outwardly as Christians and inside had to live as secretive Jews. And to their children on a word, a customs and practise remain as a string to remind them where they came from. Why this "fad", as you put it, is sweeping the Hispanic World? Simply because it was always there. But the information was not at there reach to connect the dotts. And know the Jewish world is about to experience of Hispanics who are lining up for convesion when in fact they should be directed to check their geneological tree, so if they can show 3-4 generations of unbroken linage back to the Jews, there may not even be a need to under go conversion. A conversion which throughout Jewish History was always possible, except in countries where our fellow tribesmen decided to market the female elements for business purposes. And in those country, such conversion where prohibited because, we could not have Jews marrying into lo zenut nashim, and in fact that is what began to happen. Horrified, many Rabbis placed takkanots to prohibit such actions with threats of cherem. This all swept under the rug. I do applaude Rabbi Goldenstein (Torres) effort. If he is in fact of Jewish descendants, and went through the conversion process,then your argument about a ger is not authorized to be involved in conversion is a mute issue. And what remains is raw discrimination and fear that those you may call hispanic goy have in fact a Sephardic Yiddishe Neshama which have been surpressed all these years. Sephardic Rabbis of the Spanish Portugese traditions should read this blog which sends an alarm, it is the Sephardic community responsability to deal with this issue, not a Beit Din who by and large is Askenazic and poskim accordingly. A Sephardic renewal is on it ways, and it is sending a wave of concern in the Jewish Community. Let them practice Judaism, and follow Judaism and be recognized as Jews, as long as it is done by halakhah. And alway keep in mind, that among the blue blood Syrian lavi community, even the Askenazic community is considered from the khazar, or descendants of converts.

    Kol Tuv


  10. yehudah, lima peru.

    Rabbi Eidensohn, Im a young man from Peru that had the honor of finding Rabbi Goldstein at the time SOME TWO YEARS AGO Rabbi Goldstein inform me that it was difficult to be a jew and that it will be preferable if I became a friend of the jewish people and a ben Noach.

    Off course my soul was looking for more than that I learn Hebrew to write it and speak it all by myself.
    I`m the mockery of my family and friends because I have chosen a life of Torah. I live in a world alien to the reality of Torah. You live in a cozy Torah atmosphere that has no idea what it means to dwell in a soul that has this longing with no one to help you.

    since I met rabbi Goldstein he has become my father my rabbi my mentor a refreshing air conditioner in a world of idolatry and inmorality. I hope that i will live to be a Torah giant and with it elevate the name of converts as Rabbi Goldstein has. So rabbi, maybe is not for you to help people like me.... but do not dare interfire with those that have.
    after all Rabbi, the jewish people are supposed to be a light to the nations... not a self centered religion ,maybe that is the reasons why we are still in Egypt.

    I want a halachic conversion because I want to live as a halachic jew
    I have done everithing in my power to become a Jew and a good one it be and respect those that care to notice people like meª.

  11. The process of conversion in shulchan aruch is really an easy one. tell him or her that jews are hated, find out if he or her is after mate, tell them about some difficult mitzvos and some easy ones. reward and punishment olam haba, that Hashem is only one and the prohibition of idolatry and inmorality. If he undertands and agree then he is "accepted inmediately" (mekablim Oiso Miyad)...those are the words of shulchan aruch. We see the mentality of the sages at the times of the talmud in welcoming gerim and they themeselves becoming sages. There is more than just Halacha in this anti-conversion stand. Let`s for once be honest. we are afraid!
    We are so heavily influenced by the racism of Eisav to such extent that we forget our own origins and mision and replaced it by this prejudice.

  12. Let's not forget that the great sage Hilel went on a roof on a snowy day until he nearly froze to death just to hear a Torah lecture given by a Ger. "Abraham Converted the men sarah converted the women"
    You can't blame a ger for helping those that want to be jewish!
    For most of us that were born jewish we think conversion to judaism as a crazy thing.
    Rabbi Goldstein personaly does not convert people (absurd), he guides people to a Bet Din when his experience tells him to do so.
    He never asked for money for anything ,in fact this organization if virtualy financed only by him out of his own pocket. He believes that a bet din that charges for conversions is taking a bribe.
    So no kavod,no money on this. Just a pure heart to do the right thing. I spent some shabosim at his home,what a joy and liveliness! I have long forgoten that Rabbi Goldstein is a Ger.

  13. Proselytization, is the word use in the title of this article, a word that like other words, can be powerful, and sadly harmful as well. It's definition: to induce someone to convert to one's own religious faith. Without knowing Rabi A. Goldstein this verdict is far from the truth. More than that, is clear evidence of, hopefully, a misunderstanding or worst ignorance. Why ignorance? to judge a person or his work, one most known clearly who the person is, or how his action are delivered. Clearly the author has no idea of who Rabi Goldstein is, and the sacrifices he makes to help the ones who whish to know and immerse them self’s in Judaism. He is very jealous when it come to teaching Torah, and careful to whom he does. He lives of his own business, and tikes out of his time to GIVE.
    My case, it took me 3 months to meet him, before that I had to prove that my interest in Judaism was genuine. My journey and leaning process has not been easy, but also has been beautiful, one not possible w/o the help of a Rabi. Proselytes have been part of the Jewish history since it's beginning, many of whom have play very important roles, they were fascinated by the truth and wisdom of the Jewish people, of knowing that G-d is ONE, just as I am. For those previous proselytes there were possibly rejection by the ignorant, as G-d welcomes does to become part of the brit, but w/o the help from people like Rabi Goldstein, there contribution will had never happened. Is not just the fact that he gives from his time, knowledge, or money, but how he does it, happily. Also this applies when it comes to his observance. He is enthusiastic of of the proper guidance and teachings of the prospect proselyte, but at the same time sober and realistic, and he turns down w/o hesitation dose who are not feet to this way of life.

    Hope, you the best, and wish that H"S" to open your heart and mind

  14. Rabbi you are a racist and you should not be a Rabbi. Actually you need to take conversion classes yourself and learn what is like to suffer discrimination because of your love for the Torah. Rabbi did you forget that the Jewish soul never dies! Did you forget the spanish inquisition or are you just jealous that the Sphardim are rising up in large numbers again. Well Rabbi everything does come from above and if that is Hashem's desire to bring back all of the lost (but not lost in the eyes of Hashem) Jews than it will happen no matter how much hate you try to spread. Rabbi did you forget what ahavas Yisroel means?. Like i said earlier i think that you need to take conversion classes.

  15. Boy, am I glad that I'm Roman Catholic! :-)

  16. RaP: Finally, some accuracy. These people are wannabe geirim not the real thing yet. Funny how it's gentiles nowadays who thirst for Torah yet secular Jews couldn't be bothered with it. Olam hafuch.

    TidbitsofTorah states: What's so funny? Prophecy is being fulfilled is it not? Zechariah 8:23. So said the Lord of Hosts: In those days, when ten men of all the languages of the nations shall take hold of the skirt of a Jewish man, saying, "Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you."

    I, too, am a convert. Not mexican though. I do kiruv both to secular jews and [nonjews (to bring them to the 7 noahide laws)]


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