Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Why the RCA conversion system is best by Rabbi Mark Dratch

Times of Israel    In a recent JTA Op-Ed, Rabbis Marc Angel and Avi Weiss made a number of claims about the Rabbinical Council of America’s conversion system. While some of their arguments have merit, they paint only a partial picture of what we’re doing in the North American modern Orthodox community. And some of their arguments are just wrong

“The Israeli government recently moved to decentralize the conversion system by allowing local courts to convert individuals on their own.”

Yes and no. Conversion authority was extended only to courts run by municipal rabbis. Most rabbis in Israel still are not authorized to perform conversions. In fact, the new system is an Israeli version of the RCA’s current structure.

“The RCA accredits only those conversions conducted under RCA’s batei din, or rabbinical courts, using the GPS process.”

Individual rabbis are not barred from conducting conversions, and those who do still perform their own conversions find that they are accepted in their communities and by those who respect their conversions (no different than the model advocated by Rabbis Angel and Weiss). If the halachic standards of those conversions are accepted by the RCA’s Beth Din of America, then even those privately conducted conversions will be widely accepted. The advantage of the RCA’s system, known as GPS (for Geirus Policies and Standards), is that conversions performed by its rabbinic tribunals are guaranteed to receive the support of the Beth Din of America.

Centralization is dangerous.

Yes, centralization has the potential for corruption and abuse. That is why there were checks and balances built into the GPS system, why we do our best to ensure our batei din are comprised of people of integrity, and why – in light of the lacunae identified in the Rabbi Barry Freundel case – we are reviewing the entire system with a commitment to improve it.

But a decentralized system is also subject to corruption and abuse – even more so. Who supervises the individual rabbi and protects the conversion candidate from the same possible abuses that Rabbis Angel and Weiss are concerned about? Who protects that rabbi from undue political and financial pressures that may compromise his judgment? Who protects converts and their descendants from rabbis who “sell” conversions or whose conversions are not widely accepted? [...]


  1. Avi Weiss with the new Judaism of Open Orthodox which not only is pure apikursus and does without Gittin but is a flagrant lie calling it Orthodox. Then they hire the person to do conversions who doesn't believe that the stories in the bible are true. And now we are treated to a discussion about this apikores gomur who is tearing frumeh people away from Orthodox rabbis and tradition, and see what he has to say.

  2. Dear Rabbi Dr. Eidensohn:

    Thank you for this posting.

    You need to be paying more attention to the over-all subject of conversions and geirus, especially noting developments in Israel itself because it is at boiling point. In the past you used to give this subject a lot more attention.

    If anything the situation has gotten more dire in recent times with the secular Israeli government mixing into the subject of conversion, the Knesset getting more involved in trying to impose it's version of "solutions" and most importantly the recent well-publicized statements on the subject from important Rabbonim and Rebbes in Israel, such as the Chasidic-dominated Agudas Yisroel of Eretz Yisroel coming out with a clear warning about the dangers of the recent proposals posed by the non-Charedi sector with its ongoing never-ending wars to find ways to let gentiles into the body of Am Yisrael based on the most lenient approaches without requiring at least a full commitment to Shmiras HaMitzvos (Mitzva observance) by potential converts.

  3. The RCA is legitimizing these people.

    "Two weeks after the Rabbinical Council of America appointed a new conversion committee with five women, Dr. Michelle Friedman of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah announced her acceptance to the Beth Din of America’s board of directors."

    See http://www.thejewishweek.com/michelle-friedman


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