Thoughts on the Conversion Mess

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199 Responses

  1. chaim7356 says:

    Rav Fischer, kamocha yirbu b’Yisrael…

  2. Shunamit says:

    This is a good response.  Over 30 years ago, I converted Orthodox, having previously undergone a joint Conservative-Reform conversion that included mikva, kashrut, and a commitment not to interdate and to get out of the Southern town in which I was living. I went to Israel and ended up getting married, and it became clear that the State Rabbinate had neither lists nor any solid criteria to validate anything. It took at least 12 trips back and forth to their offices with notes from my rabbanim and mesader kedushin, and one memorable breakdown in tears to get validation for a conversion everyone had assured me was already valid.

    However, the one thing that has truly put the issue to rest in my mind was the way our local Rav, who has known our family since 1985, dealt with our children’s marriages. In the end, community validation is always going to mean more than any organizational bureaucracy. That, more than any “GPS” or arbitrary bureaucrat in the Petach Tikva rabbinate, is truly the “gold standard”.

    • mycroft says:

      Shunamit

      A very close family member of mine way before any current RCA/CR change of gerus got married in Israel. He was born Jewish of Jewish parents. His parents wedding not only had a leading gadol being mesader kiddushin-but the gadol being a resident of where his parents were married-was even the name of the clergyman on the secular marriage certificate. It took much effort to get a marriage license. The CR always has been tough on people

      • Shunamit says:

        Not even so much “tough” as arbitrary.

        • mycroft says:

          Unless you are supported by Chareidim-including those who most on this blog wouldn’t even dring the water from their hashgacha if they certified water.

  3. mycroft says:

    Those who converted for decades had the peace and mind knowing that their conversions would be upheld if they went to Israel by the RCA Beis Din if they were converted by 3 RCA members in good standing.

    We all know what happened around 2006-an attempt to deligitimize OO. No one cared that the vast majority of gerim affected by this change were converted under the auspices of normal RCA Rabbis wo controversy and had followed procedures that were accepted at the time for decades. But the mitzvah of attacking OO trumps every other mitzvah in the Torah including onaas hager.

    The most obvious proof that the intent is political is the rush to confirm gerus of one the point men for the new standards after he admitted engaging in frequent violations of halacha for which he is serving jail time. Thus, we don’t question gerus of those who converted by one who we know was a frequent violator of halachot but due question gerus of those converted in the olam haemes by Rabbonim wo a known  chashash of integrity violations.

     

    • Dov Fischer says:

      Your comments are premised on utterly false assumptions. OO is irrelevant.
      Conversions require adherence to halakha.
      If someone has been converted outside the GPS rubric by an Open Orthodox male or female rabbi, that person is welcome to invite the BDA to investigate whether that conversion conformed to halakhic requirements. My pre-2006 conversions are subject to the same process. R. Lookstein’s conversions are subject to the same process. Those that you mention are subject to the same process.

      • mycroft says:

        “Your comments are premised on utterly false assumptions. ” Really-I remember  right after these new guidelines came out -I was told with great joy by someone very close to the anti OO circles- see the new guidelines we got R Weiss. I answered instantaneously so how about the decades of gerim and their descendants  that you are deligitimizing -response worth it.
        “Conversions require adherence to halakha.”

        Of course, but tell me what halachik basis you are suddenly a decade ago taking away from chezkas kashrut 2nd/3rd generation Jews who have their Jewishness questioned despite having lived Jewish lives for decades.
        “If someone has been converted outside the GPS rubric by an Open Orthodox male or female rabbi, that person is welcome to invite the BDA to investigate whether that conversion conformed to halakhic requirements. My pre-2006 conversions are subject to the same process.”

        As a youngster it may not be something that you think about-but we are all mortal-you are there politically to defend your pre 2006 conversions-by the nature of things -lets take giyurei kata who are  on average 50 years younger then the Rabbonim doing the conversion-assume lifespan of 84-smicha at 24-halfway through lifespan Rabbi did conversion-who is around to defend conversion. Thus, stating that your pre-2006 conversions can be defended is meaningless to a high percentage of gerim.

        Are you disputing that 30 years ago it was not the standard that when one went to Israel the BDA would stand behind the gerus of RCA members in good standing.Are you disputing that Gerim did not convert on that basis.

         

         

        R. Lookstein’s conversions are subject to the same process. Those that you mention are subject to the same proces

        • Dov Fischer says:

          1. When a rav passes away — particularly decades back — it becomes harder but remains doable to confirm the kashrut of the rav and his conversion bet din of yore. It just takes more effort.
          2. The GPS has nothing to do with Avi. You might just as persuasively say that GPS was constructed to negate Louis Farrakhan or A-Rod or Elvis Presley.
          3. The GPS does not negate nor remove a chezkat kashrut from prior conversions. Rather: (i) it creates an institutional imprimatur going forward, and (ii) it creates a mechanism for validating those before 2006.
          4. And now a really warm and well-meaning challenge to you, MYCROFT: Please advise anyone you know who has a pre-2006 conversion to seek a BDA validation. That is part of why I published this contribution.
          5. Finally, you will note that my writings do not speak for RCA. In the same way, RCA does not speak for me. That goes deeper than you may think. Do not assume, even for a moment, that all RCA members unquestioningly accept the kashrut certifications or conversion attestations of all other RCA members. Not by a long shot. But, to the best of my knowledge, we all accept the rulings of the BDA on conversion validations.
          Many years ago, long before I joined the RCA, a congregant asked me whether a certain food’s private-kashrut-certification was reliable. I called the rabbi on the label, and he assured me he is a member of the RCA, so “not to worry.” I then called the RCA national director, to double-check, and he told me: (i) Yes, Rabbi X is a member in good standing of the RCA, and (ii) do not assume for a moment that his RCA membership means that we vouch for or that any of us would accept his hashgachot.

          • mycroft says:

            “1. When a rav passes away — particularly decades back — it becomes harder but remains doable to confirm the kashrut of the rav and his conversion bet din of yore. It just takes more effort”

            About 30 years ago I was talking with a Rabbi about conversions. I was only aware about that he was somewhat involved from a judge who went to the same schul as I in a different community than the Rabbi was from. Apparently he was an RCA rep on some Federation committee that dealt tangentially with gerus.  He informed me about the procedures-since then especially since a decade ago I have confirmed what the person told me with other RCA Rabbonim-all older than you are.

            Anyway I challenged that Rav about what will happen decades later and essentially what he told me about the procedures back then I challenged him how can a ger decades later trust they won’t challenge the gerus-answer chazakah decades later they’re living as a Jew have been accepted those challenging would have to succeed in challenging the exist chazakah of being a kosher Jew. He BTW accused me of being very cynical about Rabbis and their motives. Sadly, I was proven right in this case.

    • chaim7356 says:

      Rav Fischer is correct that your comments are based on false presumptions – but they are also based on false facts. The geirut contremps of 2006 had nothing to do with Open Orthodoxy – a term that did not even exist back then in any relevant way. Rather, an attempt was made by Haredi individuals in Israel to deligitimize most conversions done in the US  by RCA members, and the Modern Orthodox world in general. The new system that they proposed – an international beaurocracy of frightening proportions – was fiercely opposed not only by the RCA, but by many ‘Haredi’ rabbis in the US, who correctly understood that Geirut had always been a rabbinic function, and that a vast beaurocracy would transfer these age-old rabbinic functions to a “yeshiva-world” system that had no accountability to the real world of synagogue congregational life. Thankfully the good guys won, and the GPS system that now dominates seems to be providing a path forward, as Rav Fischer clearly demonstrates.

      • mycroft says:

        “Rav Fischer is correct that your comments are based on false presumptions – but they are also based on false facts. The geirut contremps of 2006 had nothing to do with Open Orthodoxy – a term that did not even exist back then in any relevant way.”

        I don’t know the term al regel achat-but the individuals involved have been arguing the same issues for decades

        “Rather, an attempt was made by Haredi individuals in Israel to deligitimize most conversions done in the US  by RCA members, and the Modern Orthodox world in general. The new system that they proposed – an international beaurocracy of frightening proportions – was fiercely opposed not only by the RCA, but by many ‘Haredi’ rabbis in the US, who correctly understood that Geirut had”

        but to protect current RCA members they threw under the bus gerim from d3ecades before. It is all institutional what bigger proof than standing behind RBarry Freundels gerus while not standing  behind standard gerus done by RCA Rabbonim in good standing until their ptirah

        • Dov Fischer says:

          You are not privy to the halakhic process by which the D.C. situation was handled. The internet is a fabulous free-speech forum for individuals anonymously to hurl accusations and statements as though factually based, all without accountability.

          The bottom line is that each and every of those D.C. conversions was done al pi halakha. Each and every of those individuals is 100%-plus. They also are heroes — each and every of them. I deeply honor all of them, including one of them who sends me abusive emails. They are heroes, and I stand with each and every one of them.

          You keep repeating the phrase “threw under the bus.” I responded to that earlier on this page, and thereafter again when you repeated it. Yet you keep repeating the same false allegation, as though the more frequently you write it, the more true it becomes. Your allegation is baseless.

          The GPS effort, augmented by the BDA validation system, has been a great, great advance for the peace-of-mind of Gerim, pre-2006 and post-2006. I continue to hope that, in between your “under the bus” tautologies, you actually contact people you know who are Gerim and encourage them to read this article so that they may consider for themselves whether they would like to request BDA to validate their conversions.

          • mycroft says:

            You keep on repeating the same points which ignore the practical points on the ground. I have spoken to a number of musmachim about the issue. One can repeat the Political talking points of the issue to justify a political decision-as I quoted we took what we could get or recognize the facts on the ground. BTW I go to a moderate Chareidi schul and germ of over 30 years have told me about how they feel double crossed.

          • mycroft says:

            The bottom line that the bes Dinis required to be shomrei Mitzvot-are you saying that a rabbi who did what Rabbi Freundel did is a proper person to be on a bes din? If so, how could you even think of questioning gerus of standard Rabbonimwho had no chase of violating any issurim. It is not the Internet Rabbi it is thinking and discussing with practicing Rabbonim-BTW none of them are associated with OO.

          • mycroft says:

            “you actually contact people you know who are Gerim and encourage them to read this article so that they may consider for themselves whether they would like to request BDA to validate their conversions.”

            I would not want gerim to believe that their gerus was never accepted-the onaas hager by this procedure is immense and  NO ONE cares.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      If one reads the GPS , one would see that it merely spells out in detail what is expected of a ger or giyores. The notion that the same is cave in to charedi pressure cannot be sustained by any reasonable reading of the GPS.  I agree completely with R Fischer and the Inui HaGer posted here and elsewhere re the Trump Gerus. As R Rakkafet stated, she is as much of a Yid as any member in KJ.

  4. Reb Yid says:

    This entire post ignores the central issues.  If it’s not about the person, as you insist, then on what basis was Rav Lookstein’s conversion considered not kosher?  Surely he and all rabbis would want to know so that future “errors” could be avoided.

    • Dov Fischer says:

      Rav Lookstein’s conversions are subject to the same process of review that mine are, that any other rav’s conversions are.
      He probably made no errors, just as I probably make no errors.
      He knows very well what needs to be done in the future in order to bypass conversion review, just as I know: Conduct the conversion through the GPS Bet Din.
      He did it that way for Ivanka Trump, as I do it that way for all my conversions. Every other Ger and Giyoret deserves the same standard. Not a private Bet Din but a GPS Bet Din. If it was good for Ivanka Trump, he owes that same courtesy to all others.

      • mycroft says:

        “He did it that way for Ivanka Trump, as I do it that way for all my conversions”

        So GPS accepts gerus when marriage is the reason for undertaking the gerus?

        • Dov Fischer says:

          Ask them.

          • mycroft says:

            You are defending  the new germs system and I asked basic question of different hashkafot.

          • mycroft says:

            “She has been dating Kushner, 28, the publisher of the New York Observer and son of billionaire real-estate mogul Charles, for more than two years — and converted to Judaism in order to join his family”from http://nypost.com/2009/10/26/ivanka-trump-weds-jared-kushner/

            Is that a proper reason for gerus-leshem ishut according to the GPS?

          • Dov Fischer says:

            I am fascinated. On the one hand, you write all these comments about “Inui HaGer.” You are oh-so-concerned about “Inui HaGer.” And then you write a post like that about a GPS Giyoret.
            Her kosher conversion is none of my business, and it is none of your business. You do not know what challenges she faced. What is that like, to be the daughter of Donald and Ivana Trump, with the entire world at her fingertips, a world where people party on Friday nights — TGIF — and where they are loose, and where they can eat and drink anything they want at any restaurant because they have all the money in the world, and where they can jet anywhere for “quick weekend get-aways,” and where all her friends are living a fast life of fun-fun-fun, and where there is nothing she is unable to afford to do? Look at the world she comes from: the Kardashians, the Kennedys, Kate and her eight, the Michael/Janet Jackson family, Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston, Brangelina, and all the others who grace “Us,” “People,” and the supermarket tabloids.
            How do you know what challenges she faced, what she gave up, what extraordinary lifestyle changes she made? You think it only is about being photographed with a lulav while walking to shul or sharing a kosher recipe on Twitter?
            Who are you to try (unsuccessfully) to shame her, to embarrass her publicly on the internet? If you want to shame or embarrass someone, do it to me. I am born Jewish, have an I-9 form, and get attacked all the time. So do it to me.
            But leave her alone. She went through a kosher Giyur. That is all that you have to know, and it is all that I have to know.
            Attack her politics all you like. But her status is that she is a Jew. End of story.
            You are the one who is so worried about “Inui HaGer.” You are the one who is so worried about subjecting Gerim to unwarranted second-guessing. So be consistent: Leave her alone.
            And G-d knows what she has to put up with, reading stuff like this all the time, with all sorts of anonymous people, including other Gerim, often revealing intense jealousy, going after her personally.

          • Sarah Elias says:

            Not to mention another fascinating point, to wit:  Who reaches a conclusion on anything based on what a tabloid says?

      • Reb Yid says:

        Again, the question is not about future conversions but prior ones (certainly prior to 2006).  And there, contrary to your claims, it is very much indeed about the person.  It is a grave insult to both the convert and the converting rabbi.  No such convert or rabbi should have to start from scratch, period, if there is no verifiable documented reason to the contrary.

        • Dov Fischer says:

          I would tend to agree with you more if the current conversion scene were not such a mess. However, it is a mess.

          A couple comes to me to marry them. They present as Jews.
          I ask a few questions, and I learn that one of them is a child of a mom who converted reform.

          Case 2: Another couple. Another wedding. We schmooze, small talk. It emerges that one of them is adopted. I inquire — gently, softly, sensitively — and the person says that, yes, that adopted person had been converted at birth. I gently, sensitively note the fact and file it away in my mind. A week or two later, I find an excuse to contact that person’s parents “about some of the wedding logistics.” All honest. I call the parents, and we discuss the logistical matter. I find a way to move the schmooze, unthreateningly, towards the conversion of years past. One of the two parents says “Oh, rabbi, we never did a conversion for our child. The moment I held [him/her] in my arms, I knew that [he/she] is Jewish.”
          I noted what I had heard; did not go beyond it. I waited another week or two, then explained apologetically that I could not do the wedding.

          Any rabbi who takes this situation personally should take a long look at a mirror and ask himself why he is insulted that, in an age of conversion chaos, the community simply is trying to take safeguards to clean up the mess and try to bring order out of chaos. And the pre-2006 convert is not being asked to do anything over — unless, of course, it emerges that the pre-2006 conversion was not kosher.

          A rabbi who gives a private kashrut certification on food has to know that kosher consumers who do not know him will call, from anywhere and everywhere, to ask him questions to confirm what’s-what. He has to expect that. I have called such rabbis. By contrast, when he is within the institutional imprimatur and rubric of a well known and accepted kashrut agency, he is not called because the agency name speaks for his kashrut. I do not know who watched the Heinz ketchup or baked beans, and I do not care because the OU says he was vetted, and the hashgachah is good.

          Whether a human being is a Jew, a member of Klal Yisrael, suitable for an aliyah to the Torah and being counted in a minyan, acceptable to marry, is at least as important as a baked bean.

          • Reb Yid says:

            But again–given a figure as prominent and respected as Rav Lookstein–who are these folks in Israel to say that we have reason to doubt his particular conversion during that time, versus most others?

          • Dov Fischer says:

            Please see some of my responses below, Reb Yid. The question raised is why one conversion by a rav is done via GPS and another by the same rav is not. That’s all. So it deserves a pro forma look.
            I look at how Israel puts Katzav and Olmert into prison, while Comey establishes the principle that, in America, there are two sets of laws — one for the protected class and one for the plebians.
            The system simply is saying that all rabbonim and gerim will be treated equally.
            I like the idea that rabbonim in this field also are subject to oversight. First, it helps the shtella rav deal with powerful and moneyed laity who threaten his job if he does convert the non-Jewish lady whom his son is marrying. Oversight allows the rav to tell the rich layman that the matter is out of his hands, that the rav will do all he can, but the final decision lies with the GPS Bet Din, out of his control.
            Also, a scandal every so often reminds us that a person, here and there, whom everyone thought was above reproach actually should have been subject to some oversight. Sometimes really prominent and respected people. I like oversight.

          • Reb Yid says:

            “So it deserves a pro forma look.”

            This is hardly pro forma in the Lookstein case.  Not when the Rabbanut itself is already vouching for the kashrut of this conversion in addition to the head cleric.

            This is indeed quite about the person, both Rav Lookstein and this woman, the latter of  whom has repeatedly had to come before this tribunal.

          • mycroft says:

            From the outside one never knows anything about problems. Rabbi read the RCA Record in the late 70s for a lot of discussions of problems in kashrut involving major kashrut organization.

             

        • mycroft says:

          Agreed.

        • mycroft says:

          Dov Fischer
           
          July 15, 2016 at 12:57 am
          I am fascinated. On the one hand, you write all these comments about “Inui HaGer.” You are oh-so-concerned about “Inui HaGer.” And then you write a post like that about a GPS Giyoret.
          Her kosher conversion is none of my business, and it is none of your business.”

          I am showing the hypocrisy-it is all a matter of politics-gerus of people who would not consider doing one leshem ishut before 2006 get challenged while a gerus where there is public available evidence leshem ishut has no problems because it was done by GPS.It is not he objective facts of the situation it is simply the politics of the situation. A gerus done by a Freundel would have been laughed out if not on GPS-how does GPS change halacha to what is acceptable or not.

  5. Bob Miller says:

    As the significant Orthodox Jewish communities in the world can’t or won’t have a common set of standards, problems in this area will persist.   Many Jews go on aliyah or make lesser moves.  If parents don’t move, their children often will.  High mobility defeats the idea that local decision-making, or even decision-making by one community or national rabbinic organization or another, can control the process satisfactorily in the absence of a really broad consensus.

    • Dov Fischer says:

      That exactly is why GPS was conceived and created.

      • Bob Miller says:

        True, but aren’t large numbers of Jews living in communities that have not accepted GPS in principle or in practice?  If so, what can be done about that?

        • Dov Fischer says:

          I think I understand your question, but I am not sure. Kindly be a bit more expansive in your question, Mr. Miller. And thank you for taking the interest in reading and asking.

          • Bob Miller says:

            GPS is designed to gain full general acceptance, but that has not been achieved.  What is its expansion strategy going forward?

          • Dov Fischer says:

            Liker all social systems that depend on human beings,experience reveals areas for fine-tuning, and there is a dynamic process at play.

    • mycroft says:

      Of course if one wants to make Aliyah to Israel get a Reform/conservative conversion me safek .  The Israeli SC ruled that misread haptic has to accept their conversions while rejecting Orthodox conversions permissible because Orthodox Rabbinate has a right to do that and determine proper Orthodoxy

  6. Curious Yid says:

    Yasher Koach Rabbi Fischer. I love the story of the three-rabbi panel.

     

    Just curious- how would you have handled the situation if they had asked you to speak first instead of last? 🙂

  7. rob says:

    Kol hakavod to Rabbi Fischer to putting the convert before the converter. It is true that the conversion recognition by state apparatus in Israel is assured by conversions under GPS. But that does not necessarily mean every Jewish community in Israel or anywhere else will accept the GPS conversion.  It is not clear to me whether all haredi communities in Israel will accept conversions recognized by or done by the state Rabbinate, given some are anti- or non-Zionist. If one wants to marry into or otherwise join a community that observes halacha, one must meet that community’s standards for determination of halachic Jewish identity; communal acceptance seems to remain as it has been for thousands of years, determined by the Rav or posek of the community in question.

    • Dov Fischer says:

      I agree.
      The evil sin of Inui HaGer always will be somewhere on the horizon somewhere, and there always will be some who say “Well, maybe the American Orthodox world recognizes you as a Jew, and maybe the Chief Rabbinate of Israel recognizes you as a Jew, and maybe 99% of the frum world recognize you as a Jew — but I say you are not a Jew.”
      There always will be such evil. Indeed, just read the horrible, disgusting, evil things that anonymous commenters throughout the internet have posted from the dark recesses of their parents’ garages about the status of Ivanka Trump. Just the most evil, hateful — and deeply jealous — things. She is 100 percent kosher status.
      Someone who had converted properly under another rav’s sponsorship once came to me, with tears, saying that a certain person refused to meet her for a date because she was a convert. I had tears, too. I told her that she is blessed because she has an advance warning system to help filter out the worst of jerks before she marries. (I do acknowledge that there can be certain concerns on the matter, such as “If I marry a Ger, what impact will his or her non-Jewish parents have on future children we would have, playing a role as grandparents? What would happen at Xmas season?” I get it. It is something to explore, just as I recommend to people that they always should regard whether prospective future in-laws may be of the sort who could ruin a marriage. But here we had someone who had converted before meeting anyone, and the fellow would not even meet her.
      There always will be people who find the next one beneath their standard. When I lived in Israel, there was a guy who would not eat at anyone’s home during the Year of Shemittah, explaining that he does not question the kashrut of their meat, wine, cheese, etc., but he is not comfortable with eating at anyone else’s home during Shemittah Year. I get that there are different shitot regarding Shemittah, but he would not even eat at people whose Shemittah practices conformed to his.
      So that Friday night I got to eat the extra carrots.
      But for the world of normative observance, GPS — now ten years old — works beautifully.

      • mycroft says:

        “But for the world of normative observance, GPS — now ten years old — works beautifully.”

        May well -obviously I hope you don’t believe perfect-certainly a major figure in the promulgating new standards was not so kosher in the area. But my biggest objection is throwing those of more than a decade ago under the bus. They converted following RCA standards of the time. We have the interesting situation that due to RCA not standing behind those prior gerim they have trouble moving to Israel while Reform and Conservative conversions are recognized by Misrad Hapnim.

        I really don’t have much of a problem to put those post new standards use this or we won’t recognize-my problem is the past.

        • Dov Fischer says:

          Come on: No one is “throw[n] under the bus.” Any pre-2006 kosher conversion is validated promptly. Come on. Such hyperbole!

          • mycroft says:

            Come on-in the past week I have spoken to Rabbi friends of mine who have been Rabbonim more than 40 years. It has thrown the gerim under the bus you know that and it is all political-once you ratify gerus of a Rabbi who was violating halachot-admitted to it and is serving a prison sentence for those actions- How can you be onaas hager and make those and second generationj children and 3rd generation grandchildren ratify the gerus when you don’t question gerus by a Rabbi who violated halachot and laws..

            A couple of years ago a Rabbi asked me if I had info about something that involved something from 1962-the 30 year  old child wants to make aliyah-of course I raised question whats the difference they aren’t recognizing old conversions-his answer of course its a scandal that RCA not standing behind gerus of their deceased members but he would go to chareidi Rav X who was by then in his 80s and if he couldprove to that Rabbi that the deceasedRabbi treated the person as Jewish he would vouch. Scandal RCA won’t stand behind its own former  Rabbonim wo any chashash who are now in olam haemes but will stand behind a convicted felons gerus where the felon was violating every law of zniut etc imagineable.

          • Dov Fischer says:

            “you know that and it is all political”
            Not deserving a response. You know that. And your comment is all political.

            Otherwise, see my various responses to your similar previous comments about “under the bus,” etc.

            I cannot respond regarding all these Hearsay Rabbis you quote second-hand. Let them come out of the shadows, and let’s hear from them directly.

    • mycroft says:

      You are correct the issue is admission to Israel. The only converts not treated as legitimate are those by standard RCA Rabbis pre 2006. Reform and Conservative conversions are accepted by Israeli Supreme Court. As far as rest of Yahadus getting state approval will not cause other Rabbonim from communities who don’t accept RCA Rabbonim to accept current gerus.

      The sad by product is that grim believe that they have been misled-once a Jew always a Jew they were told. They were told that except for rare exceptions a guy ores cann’t marry a Kohen that once converted they will be treated as a regular Jew. By the flippant comments oh just prove a gerus from 50 years ago and proof of acceptance means nothing we see how onaas hager is a non idea in practice.

      • mycroft says:

        Rabbi Fischer you kknow  why they can’t come out of the shadows- they are currently in practice and if they took on the system it would be besides professional suicide it would be detrimental to their being able to help their current congregants in situations that happen.

        I can write about this because I am retired and have no  need for the organized Jewish community – Thus, I can comment because those who know me and a lot do     Know that I am not involved other than memberships in the Jewish community. I go to schul for minyan in go to shiurim but am not involved politically or professionally.

        • Dov Fischer says:

          I am a rav in practice, too. Where is their courage?

          • mycroft says:

            Those Rabbonim are not concerned about personal benefit-they know when to fight and when not to. Fighting is suicidal against those who have the power and are willing to distort our menorah. See eg how the Ravs viewpoints have been distorted by some people including RY. I have cited many times on this blog Prof kaplans article, Dr T ovah Lichtenstein,s article

  8. mycroft says:

    “Chaos. And if that chaos is bemusing within the United States, imagine an Israeli rabbinate trying to figure out who the rav in America was, what his halakhic standards were”

    The BDA certifi9ed these gerus when Israel was involved. If you are worried about standarziation why is no one concerned about the 2nd  marriages done where there was no get when the first marriage was performed by a non Orthodox clergyman. You are aware that the vast majority of American gedolim  of the latter half of the 20th centurywere opposed to letting someone get married in that circumstance. The stakes are much higher halachikally in relying on a kula that Rav  A Lichtenstein  ZT’L stated would have been laughed out except for the one making it.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      RMF recognized merely that at the time of the writing of that teshuvah, the view that a ceremony performed by a R clergyman could even be considered a halachically proper marriage even  Bshas Hadchak had changed simply because of the changes within RJ, which were not present during earlier years when many Gdolim in America would have found means to legitimize the same. RMF’s psak enabled many Gerim and BTs to marry al pi daas vdin, and was rendered obviously with full consideration of the unique difficulties that many Gerim and BTs faced in that context.

      • mycroft says:

        It is not only the Rav who rejected RMFs heter on no get required-bit I was told second hand when I told a RW talmid chacham about the Rav that Rav Moshes heter was rejected by RA Kotler, R I Hutner, R Y Kamenetzky, besides of course Rav Henkin-if someone has direct knowledge contradicting this info please share.

        The Ravs rejection of RMF is very obvious that he was not willing to mistareph the potential of a Reform conversion not being good with the potential of RMFs heter being good. Remember, no one is metaher mamzerim-if RMF is wrong one is causing eshes ish and bringing mamzerim into the world.

  9. joseph marcus says:

    What about the attempts by  the Chief Rabbinate to revoke conversions even if done by GPS or other halachic venues? Do conversions from other countries require GPS or is adherence to halacha sufficient?

    What about Chabad conversions? Does the Rabbinate or GPS question them?

    • Dov Fischer says:

      Great post!
      1. The CR does not attempt to revoke GPS conversions. That’s the whole point and beauty of GPS.
      2. Most (if not all) Chabads do not do any conversions whatsoever — for theological reasons that are outside the purview of this discussion. For example, when someone approaches a Chabad in Orange County, California for a conversion, those rabbonim refer the person to me. Once that person is converted via GPS, that referring Chabad rav then accepts that person as halakhically Jewish.
      3. A private converting rav does not need to be an RCA member. That would be irrelevant to the process. If the investigation reflects a kosher conversion, then the BDA institutional imprimatur will be given.

  10. David Ohsie says:

    I appreciate that Rabbi Fischer is willing to giving decision making power up for he believes to be the common good.  However, it is not really the Rabbi who pay the price here, but the convert.   Let’s accept provisionally that everyone post-2006 has agreed to a new procedure for conversion and those who go around it have no one but blame but themselves for any subsequent difficulties.  It is still very unclear what justification there could be for making demands upon a convert who converted pre-2006 beyond showing that they were converted by an Orthodox Beis Din.  The fact that Rabbi Fischer doesn’t object being questioned about his conversions, doesn’t justify the seemingly extra-halachic demands on the converts themselves.

    I’m also not sure about why a “gold standard” is desirable as a universal criterion.  Suppose that a Rabbi does the appropriate evaluation and feels that converting for marriage is appropriate under the circumstances.  Converting for marriage would never the ideal situation, so would probably not meet any kind of “gold standard”.  What are we to do?

    In general, while it certainly makes sense for a given Rabbi to only convert those who they want to convert (apply a “gold standard”), it is unclear of the source of authority to invalidate the conversions that don’t meet these judgments, but do meet the bare minimum for a valid conversion.

    Stated in another way, suppose that  the RCA or anyone else feels that there is some benefit to ab initio requiring certain things things above the halachic minimum in order to strengthen the observance of the eventual convert or to discourage those not really committed to Judaism (say the attendance of certain classes for a period of time).  By the very fact that they add these requirements, doesn’t that then imply that it is incumbent on the same organization to accept already-converted converts “after the fact” who did meet these ideal requirements, by the very fact that the RCA requirements  are “ideal” and above the minimum for a valid conversion?

    • Dov Fischer says:

      1. Do you ever have to produce proof of citizenship, Mr. Ohsie? When someone applies for a job, he has to produce something called an I-9 to prove that he is eligible to work in the United States. I personally find the form a pain, but I am not offended. Pain? Yes! Offended? No. At one of the law schools where I have been teaching for several years, every year I have to fill out the same proofs of citizenship, employment eligibility, and such. What a pain! Really — what a pain! (Guess what I have been doing this afternoon. . . . ) But I am not offended. I get it. I recognize that lots of people in the country are not legally eligible to work here; therefore, the system is trying to get control over a situation that has degraded into a massive mess. It is the same thing with conversion, which is at least as important to Netzach Yisrael as is an I-9.

      2. When an attorney goes into a courthouse, she has to go through the same basic process that air travelers endure on the TSA lines. We have to empty our pockets, take off belts, etc. What a pain! They know me at the courthouse! The guards all know me! (As an attorney, not as an inmate . . . ) Yet I have to do this each time: “Hi, Rabbi Fischer. Have you removed all metal from your pockets? Maybe you still have a gold pen inside your jacket? Ah, there it is! See? Now please step back and walk through the machine again. Thank you, Rabbi.” What a pain! But do I get offended? “Why me? Do you know who I am? I am xxxx!” No. Rather, we all regard it as a pain, and none of us is offended. It is a mess not of our doing, but we have to accommodate the security mess that others have made that impacts us.

      3.There are no new demands on the pre-2006 Ger. They do not have to re-learn the Torah. It is not like Traffic School after a ticket, where you now have to go through all that stuff all over again and pass a new test to show that you know, after driving for 30 years, that “green” is for “go” and that “red” is for “stop.” Rather, it is about documenting a Giyur one time, for once and for all.

      4. I have changed the term in my article from “Gold Standard” to “institutional imprimatur.” Anyway — I know of cases where halakhic conversions were done years ago by appropriate rabbinical authorities of their day under standards less demanding than those of today. Those conversions typically are validated because, as you write, they were conducted at a time when local rabbonim of that locale deemed such a standard halakhically appropriate.

      5. Your last paragraph is fabulously argued and stated. I agree with you completely.

      • mycroft says:

        “Rather, it is about documenting a Giyur one time, for once and for all.”

        and how is a giyores from 50 years ago who was converted as a ger katan going to get the documentation-she couldn’t now-and she couldn’t marry a kohen but if you challenge her gerus-her daughters can’t marry a kohen. What ever happened to chazakah-went to Jewish schools.etc.

        The bes din is likely in olam haemes.

        • Dov Fischer says:

          If it was legitimate, it will be validated. Fifty years ago is 1966. Documents exist going back to 1966.

          • mycroft says:

            Explain to me how one finds documents from 1966 if the people -BD-are dead-especially back then nobody dreamed that decades later people would try and recheck yichus after decades and not rely on the chazaka

      • mycroft says:

        “Do you ever have to produce proof of citizenship, Mr. Ohsie? When someone applies for a job, he has to produce something called an I-9 to prove that he is eligible to work in the United States. I personally find the form a pain, but I am not offended. Pain? Yes! Offended? No. At one of the law schools where I have been teaching for several years, every year I have to fill out the same proofs of citizenship, employment eligibility, and such. What a pain! Really — what a pain!”

        Big difference-for those born in the US it is easy to get a duplicate birth certificate. For those naturalized the government has a record-by the nature of things old records of gerus are not available especially when the expectation was after a number of years and original BD in olam haemes no one would ever dream of onaas hager and the opening up of old years. Bringing US up there are Statute of Limitations for challenging facts-because it is not fair or realistic after a number of years to expect people to prove things.

        • Dov Fischer says:

          It is not easy to get a duplicate birth certificate. That is simply another asseveration that is not correct. I was born in New York and live in California. I have tried several different ways and cannot get a duplicate birth certificate unless I either go to New York to get one or pay a lawyer a bunch of money to do it for me. Not worth it. By contrast, there is no need to move or pay any fee to get a BDA validation. No comparison.

          • dr. bill says:

            $62.30 – online, delivered.   been there, done that.

          • mycroft says:

            I have gotten duplicate birth certificates by mail for myself.

          • David Ohsie says:

            Not that this is all that relevant, but I third the experience.  I ordered a New York City birth certificate for my son online.  The State and City’s website give the links.

      • David Ohsie says:

        Rabbi Fischer,

        1) I’m not sure what the argument about the I-9 or offense is supposed to prove.  The fact that life is sometimes difficult or unjust doesn’t justify additional injustices.  If a Ger from before 2006  has a conversion from a Orthodox Rabbi/Beis Din and has since lived as a Jew, is there any halachic basis for questioning their conversion?  If there isn’t, then this whole procedure is unjustified and perhaps a violation of halacha.  The I-9 and security procedures, as annoying as they are, are based on laws passed by a democratic majority.   If your employer declined to accept the forms of identification authorized by law and regulation, then you would not be so sanguine.  In fact, I believe that it is illegal for an employer to demand additional verification beyond what the law requires based on their own assessment.  If they see that an employee cannot speak English, they are not allowed to apply additional criteria or or investigation of the right to work to this potential employee as this would considered illegal discrimination based on country of origin.  If anything, the I-9 example cuts against your case.

        So the question is: what basis is there for this new procedure in halacha.   The fact that others won’t recognize the Geirus is an unfortunate fact, not a justification for placing requirements on the Ger.   What is the precedent for this?

        Finally, I trust that you can see the difference between an annoyance at work which you know is controlled by a specified and relatively objective procedure and having your Jewish identity questioned in a practical way that could upset your entire life based on criteria added after the fact.

        2) Maybe you could clear up some of my confusion with further explanation.  Suppose a Ger comes with Rabbi Lookstein himself to the BDA and Rabbi Lookstein says: “I converted this person and he/she is a valid convert”.    Does the BDA just approve the Ger or is there some sort of “investigation” done?

        3) Same question as above, but the Ger also says, “Oh and I converted for marriage”.

        • Dov Fischer says:

          Please accept my apologies that my responses are brief. I am under various time constraints tonight. I respond ad seriatim.
          1. We live in a time of emergency. My article sets forth the emergency and its causes. In the face of the emergency, the need for a system is compelled. America’s employment emergency is its porous southern border. Therefore, the I-9. Halakha’s American emergency is an intermarriage rate exceeding 50% with non-halakhic conversions all over the place. Any shul rav will tell you nightmare accounts of people, even frum people, who did not even know that they are not Jewish, that their Moms are non-Jewish. The whole thing is in chaos.
          2a. Freundel should have been subject to rigorous oversight. So should Rav Lookstein be. So should I. If Freundel teaches us anything, he teaches us that no rav should be free from oversight.
          2b. Do you wonder, as I do, why R. Lookstein did the Trump conversion via GPS, but not other of his conversions? I know for a fact that GPS conversions are way-way-way less expensive than are most private conversions, are more demanding, and take longer. So it’s not like the Trumps or Kushners paid more for a better conversion. So do you wonder why R. Lookstein did the Trump conversion with the kind of GPS institutional imprimatur that other of his post-2006 conversions did not always enjoy? If you wonder, then you are not alone.
          3. Each case is fact-specific and unique.

          • David Ohsie says:

            Rabbi Fischer, I appreciate very much your willingness to respond.  However, instead of answering the question, you 1) bring up the irrelevancy of Freundel (are you worried that R Lookstein is committing sexual abuse?)  2) Imply without any basis that R. Lookstein is committing some kind of indiscretion in his conversions because he chooses not to use the GPS for some of them.

            It appears that you want to take people who were 100% converted by an 100% Orthodox rabbi and substitute the judgement of the BDA after the fact to decide whether the person should have been converted to begin with.  This has nothing to do with people who think that they are Jewish even though they were never converted or because their Father alone is Jewish or people who converted with Reform conversions.

          • Dov Fischer says:

            Hi, Mr. Ohsie. Ok, let;’s try it this way:
            Please post your list of all Orthodox rabbonim in the United States whom you believe are above the system and therefore should not be subject to any oversight.

    • mycroft says:

      ” However, it is not really the Rabbi who pay the price here, but the convert.   Let’s accept provisionally that everyone post-2006 has agreed to a new procedure for conversion and those who go around it have no one but blame but themselves for any subsequent difficulties.  It is still very unclear what justification there could be for making demands upon a convert who converted pre-2006 beyond showing that they were converted by an Orthodox Beis Din.  The fact that Rabbi Fischer doesn’t object being questioned about his conversions, doesn’t justify the seemingly extra-halachic demands on the converts themselves.”

      Agreed that in a nutshell is the issue-there is too much concern on both sides about kavod of this Rav or this Rav the real issue is onaas hager of those pre 2006.

  11. dr. bill says:

    The logic of your position escapes me.   I have heard of no evidence that Rabbi Lookstein underwent some religious transformation at some point prior to his inclusion in the GPS process.  I appreciate that abuse was an issue in the US prior to the GPS process (and probably still exists in various quarters in the US and Israel.)   However, questioning the geirut of any Rabbi around which suspicion has never been proven is a karov le’vaday violation of oppressing a ger.
    It reminds me of the story of a BM boy reading parshat zachor and RSZA ztl’s famous response.
    The evil is an Israeli hegemony that wants to institute its standards regardless of the opinions of others.  I realize that a ger can always face questioning by a yet more restrictive group or prospective mate.  But that is the risk that a ger has to take by choosing the BD that he or she feels comfortable with.  They will suffer the consequences of a poor choice.
    What is more, it is not just the kavod of Rabbi Lookstein that is being tarnished, but those Rabbis  who participated with him (before and after 2006) have been shamed.  And if you think that the geirut of Ivanka Trump would occur by the standards imposed by the Israeli chareidi establishment, I have a bridge to sell you.  Just read the obnoxious comments about her that I fear is not restricted to some crazy bloggers.
    Besides, if the BD had an issue they could easily do a quiet giur le’chumrah, something that is particularly easy for a woman.  I certainly do not know why this issue arose at this point; that question has to be answered by the rabbis in Israel who created this further example of what happens when a government is blackmailed by chareidi parties.

     

    • Dov Fischer says:

      1. Rabbi Lookstein did not “under[go] a religious transformation.” C’mon! Of course not. Rather, for reasons that he obviously knows and that I am satisfied are none of my business, the conversion of Ivanka was done under the institutional imprimatur of GPS while other of his conversions were not done under GPS. Thus, the ones done under GPS are approved by institutional imprimatur subject to the RCA-Chief Rabbinate agreement. Those done outside the GPS framework leave unclear what may or may not have been done differently. All that would be needed would be for a pre-2006 convert of R. Lookstein, or a post-2006 non-GPS convert of R. Lookstein, to apply to BDA for a validation.

      2. I ask of you, Dr. Bill: Please advise anyone you know who has undergone (i) a pre-2006 or (ii) a post-2006 non-GPS Orthodox conversion to apply to the BDA for a validation. That validation will give peace of mind for generations to come.

      3. This mess is not Israel’s fault. It is like blaming my employer for making me do a new I-9 every year. Not only that, but guess what else? Each and every year, at one of the law schools where I teach — and have been teaching there for years — I have to re-take my Oath of Allegiance to the United States, affirm that I am not a Communist, etc. Me? A Communist? I won’t even vote for . . . I am the only person in America who went to see all three parts of the “Atlas Shrugged” trilogy! (Who is John Galt?) But I have to affirm every year — still not a Communist. The mess is not my employer’s fault. I do it and, unlike Trumbo, I watch what I sign. It all is a pain — but none of it offends me.

      4. I agree that there are those on the outer reaches who do not accept even an RCA-GPS-Chief Rabbinate Gerut. So let me tell you: There is a store in Memphis on Beale Street called “Schwab’s.” They sell mostly glorified junk and kitsch, but their slogan is: “If you cannot find it at Schwab’s, you are better off without it.” Same here. If someone will not accept an RCA-GPS-CR Gerut, then you are better off not having anything to do with them. It’s their loss.

      • dr. bill says:

        thank you  for non-response.  i must have missed the seif on applying to the BDA to be machshir a geirut.  however, i believe the issur of tormenting a ger is still in force.

        if you think Israel has nothing to do with the mess, do you also think rabbi sherman is an acceptable dayan?

        • Dov Fischer says:

          I have written about Rabbi Sherman elsewhere in private rabbinical forums where I felt my opinion would have some influence.

          From 1985-1987 I was on Aliyah. It is a story for another day. Briefly, we were among the first 35 families to establish the shikun of Naveh Aliza in Karnei Shomron. Jewish rights to all of Judea and Samaria is a big issue of mine, and I put my money where my mouth is. Well, the kablan went bankrupt with our life’s savings, so here I am. My money never made it back with me. Kol d’ovid Rachmana, l’tav avid.
          During those two years I was deeply, deeply dismayed with many, many aspects of the Rabbanut as I encountered the matzav first-hand. I believed then, and I believe as much now as I did then, that the Rabbanut needs much fixing and would benefit greatly from the input of American rabbonim on Aliyah who actually could lend great skills, savoir faire, and practicality.

          I will add this: The halakha does not allow for revoking a gerut. We all know the meme: Once a Jew, always a Jew. If someone converts properly and later abandons, that is a Jew OTD — not a revocable conversion. By contrast, if someone attains a conversion in the first instance through fraud and deceit, that is a different story because the person actually never attained the conversion. The conversion always was null. It is no different from signing a contract or making a deal through fraud and deceit. The deal is void ab initio. It never was binding.

        • mycroft says:

          ” i must have missed the seif on applying to the BDA to be machshir a geirut.  however, i believe the issur of tormenting a ger is still in force.”

          How does a person apply when the Rav is in the olam haemes-Dr Bill just think a high percentage of your teachers at YU are probably in olam haemes-how can they ratify their gerus-of course they can’t

          “if you think Israel has nothing to do with the mess,”

          when this first came out Rabbi Herring who was then Exec Dir of the RCA spoke at a local schul -2nd day Shavuos afternoon bragging about the new agreement- asked why they didn’t protect old gerus done under old procedures he stated we took what we could get in negotiation we had to sacrifice old to get new accepted by CR. So Dr Bill you are obviously correct. The RCA is a professional union ex dead members need not be protected. Dor  shelo yada et yoseph.

           

        • Steve Brizel says:

          R Fischer asked a simple question and you avoided a response. Unless you can point to a single case of either a pre-2006 gerus of a post 2006 non GPS conversion that needed validation, you really haven’t answered his question.

      • mycroft says:

        “This mess is not Israel’s fault.”

        Who are we kidding standard gerus done in IDF conversion program has less commitment to mitzvot than even the most liberal gerus done b.

    • mycroft says:

      “However, questioning the geirut of any Rabbi around which suspicion has never been proven is a karov le’vaday violation of oppressing a ger”

      They are not ratifying gerus or accepting children of by Rabbonim who are now in olam haemes.  BTW-Dr Bill it appears that some of them are people who you have praised-we are both of age where we knew Rabbonim who are not here now-thus they won’t be able to fight for their gerim.

      “I realize that a ger can always face questioning by a yet more restrictive group or prospective mate.  But that is the risk that a ger has to take by choosing the BD that he or she feels comfortable with.”

      The real issue is the control of Israeli Ministry of Interior because wo the control of aliyah that prevents gerim of their non approved conversions which were approved by the policy of the CR/RCA when these Rabbis were alive there would really be no issue-they would never be accepted by  Satmer anyway normal RCA Rabbonim would have approved of them. Even most CC writers would have .

      “the BD had an issue they could easily do a quiet giur le’chumrah, something that is particularly easy for a woman.”

      But not so easy even for a women decades later-how about her children and grandchildren-marry a Kohen? Most important the onaas hager has reached the stage where I am told by Rabbi friends of mine that they will not encourage those were giyurei katan and then were 12 years in a day school to go to Israel for the gap year-too risky in exposing the attitude of the frum Jewish world especially Israeli chareid world to them.

       

  12. Avigael says:

    Orthodox conversions cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, its not unusual for people to be rejected after 15 years in the system and they refuse to convert them for ridiculous reasons.  Women lose their fertility and families in the process, making these programs the murders of families.  Children are subject to abuse, being forced to be in school as a ‘non jew’ which totally destroys their identities and education.  This makes these kangaroo courts of abuse – nothing more. Nothing is done about it, and the Rabbinate has totally failed the people on every level. Its well past time the entire abomination is shut down world wide and those criminals who run these are prosecuted.   The only place any conversion should be permitted to take place is in our nation, not the diaspora. Diaspora conversions done by anyone, do not produce halachically sound people for our nation, they only produce victims which they get fat off.

    • Dov Fischer says:

      Gimme a break. I mean, really. Hundreds of thousands of dollars? So what am I doing here, writing on Cross-Currents, when I can just conduct one single conversion and retire? I challenge you: identify the rabbi who does a conversion for “hundreds of thousands of dollars.” As a law professor of Advanced Torts,I can assure you that truth is a complete defense to any defamation claim on a subject like this. So the ball is in your court. Who?

      • Avigael says:

        True. Soon this will be tested in court along with the authenticity of such kangaroo courts being permitted to even operate. Ever heard of Opportunity Cost?  Its the cost of both direct and indirect costs of taking up in this example, a fraudulent course such as conversion to clear ones Jewish Status.  So what’s the opportunity cost of doing an Orthodox Conversion? First you have to move and be within walking distance of a shule. That’s about $400 a week.  Next you have to not work on Shabbat so you can ‘practice’ being Jewish. There’s $200 a week. Then you have to put your children into a Jewish Day School, so they can be mocked and totally emotionally destroyed. That costs you $150 p/w per child. Then you have to switch to the Kashrut Authority only that your Beth Din approves – multiply your existing grocery bill by 4 times to do this. Lets for the sake of this argument add $400 to your grocery bill weekly to ‘go kosher’.  Then lets add $60 a week to have lessons with an assimilated person who knows nothing about halacha to sit there and tell you about the pseudo law system that has nothing to do with Torah Law, which just happens to be the minchag they adopted.  Then add the [baloney] ‘texts’ at $80 a pop to spew more lies under the guise of “this is the halacha”. Then add all of the other functions that one has to take time off work to go and pretend to be ‘jewish’ while paying out for other extra costs such as contributing to causes that if you dont you would not be ‘integrated’ as well as the Beth Din direct costs etc.  
        Then theres the damages costs of stealing ones fertility and not permitting them to marry as well as destroying children in peodophile rife schools and the damages from that.  Certaintlly in Commonwealth Countries, an 8 year conversion is short – thats over $500,000 commitment; more normal is towards the 15 year mark (Like LBD for example) and that is over $1M commitment and many are rejected after spending this to find that after all of these resources being stolen, they are no further in front than what they were 15 years ago.  
        Who are the Rabbis involved? The entire countries Rabbinates that run these fraudulant courts ! In other words – all of them ! Not only that, they are doing this to people who are already halachically Jewish, born Jewish, but are having the problem with their status through the Israeli Gov. Many of these then have to go on and do another Masorti conversion for 3 years (another few hundred thousand dollars worth).  
        I can assure you that this is going to stop. Legal teams with far more experienced legal personal than yourself are involved.  In the Commonwealth, Queens Counsels are involved and leading the prosecution.  Also this is a political issue, as countries that allow pseudo courts such as Sharia Law and Orthodox (not Torah) Law that operate with no oversight, accountablity or standards, to run riot and destroy many peoples lives is also coming to closure.  Legislation is being introduced to stop such corrupt and invalid legal systems from operating, including in Israel, similar to the legislation recently passed in Texas. The Abomination of the Rabbinates along with their carnage is coming to a close in our lifetimes.  Stay tuned for the Precedent setting lawsuits and legislation that are underway now.  
         
        Orthodoxy has also brought this on themselves by their own corruption. You state Chabad doesn’t do conversions? That is not true in most parts of the world. Chabad actually now boast they control over half of the worlds Beth Dins and going for 100% control.  The Chassidic doctrine has nothing to do with Torah, Israel or Judaism – as is well documented, as is their drug and pedophile rings that operate internationally. Baruch HaShem, the tip of the iceburg has been exposed with partial cases prosecuted and investigations such as the recent Royal Commission into child abuse exposing this. This doesn’t stop organisations such as the RCA promoting such people, along with the likes of Freundal, Tropper and co.

        • R.B. says:

          Okay, I really want to know: who was really 9/11, the assassination of JFK, and the Lindbergh baby kidnapping. I look forward to your insights.

        • chaim7356 says:

          I enjoy your comments – the depth and breadth of your  paranoia and conspiracy theories are highly entertaining. Please keep them coming!

        • Steve Brizel says:

          Let me try to sort through the  contents of your post as follows:

          1)The cost factor of living as a true ger tzedek ( or for any BT or  FFB) is an inherent part of Kabalas Ol mitzvos. Being committed means assuming basic and fundamental commandments such as Shabbos observance, yeshiva tuition and kashrut. Living in Israel, within the community that is right for you, and especially Gerim and BTs,  helps offset many of the costs of living in the Orthodox community. The GPS sets forth in very clear detail what is expected of any potential ger in terms of their affiliation with and support of communal institutions such as shul membership, yeshiva tuition, etc.  One has to realize that there is a built in tension between doing Chesed and helping someone offset the costs and the attitude that there is no free lunch with respect to supporting community institutions. As far as actual tzedaka, you should concentrate on those institutions that helped facilitate your gerus and that help you growth spiritually.

          2) There are many communities that welcome Gerim and BTs and some that do not-both in the Charedi and MO worlds.

          3) I cannot believe that any Ger converted under GPS auspices has an unduly long process of eight years.

          4) Shiduchim, with both concerns that are equally legitimate and at times bordering on the pyschotic, are an issue of major concern within all segments of the Orthodox world. I do not subscribe to the POV that BTs and Gerim should only be set up with each other or marry each other. One can look at the ShuT  of R Sternbuch where he emphasizes that Midos are a far more important consideration than Yichus in any potential shidduch

          • mycroft says:

            “The cost factor of living as a true ger tzedek ( or for any BT or  FFB) is an inherent part of Kabalas Ol mitzvos. Being committed means assuming basic and fundamental commandments such as Shabbos observance, yeshiva tuition and kashrut. ”

            are you seriously stating that a requirement to be a ger zedek is to show ones financial assets. Only the wealthy can be admitted. I agree that a ger must be prepared to sacrifice for yahadus but are you adding a financial requirement-where in any source is that found.

            I am aware of Rabbonim in pre GPS time who refused to even accept free will gifts for gerus and usually even paid out of their own pocket the milah and mikveh fees. Of course, that BD-3 then Rabbis from my county didn’t get involved in gerus which had marriage involved. To make a financial test  means to enter kanfei hashechina is something that if I hadn’t heard elsewhere sounds like a caricature by anti-Semites about Yahadus.

          • Elly Shevin says:

            Steve is not suggesting any financial test. He’s just observing that a potential ger needs to understand that it costs more to be frum than to not be frum.

    • mycroft says:

       
       
       

      “Orthodox conversions cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, its not unusual for people to be rejected after 15 years in the system a”

      I know of Rabbis who refused to even accept free will gifts for their gerus, would not deal with a gerus when there is a potential marriage involved and their pre 2006 gerus are not accepted.

      • Avigael says:

        Many claim to do this for ‘free’. Its not so free if you read above and understand what is said and the true costs of these corrupt programs.

      • Steve brizel says:

        We learn from the financial commitment of every member of the for hamidbar to contribute to the building of the mishkan and the takana of Yehoshua Ben gamla that all of us are required to support yeshivos in our communities rather than having a community suffer nidui or worse for not supporting such mosdos.

  13. Michael Wolk says:

    Your tactic on the panel might distract some blood-thirsty spectators, but it doesn’t really hold up.  I assume that the Conservative rabbi would say that he accepts Reform conversions if they are done according to Halakah, which includes a list of requirements and expectations.  If the convert lives up to the expectations and meets the requirements, then the conversion is valid regardless of what denomination the officiating rabbi represents.  You, on the other hand, are looking only at the rabbi rather than the convert and the conversion.  A non-Orthodox rabbi could officiate at the conversion that meets the highest Halakhic standards, but it would not matter to you.  The Conservative rabbi in your story has standards, whereas you just write off 90% of American Jewry based on labels, denominations, and intra-communal politics.  Who’s trampling on Halakha in that scenario?

    • sb says:

      So a hostile (to orthodox) audience is shown their hypocrisy in a simple yet elegant way. They are modeh to the truth of Rav Fischer’s words. But to you that’s a “tactic” and rather than the audience being intelligent thinkers they are “blood thirsty spectators”.

      is it possible that you are feeling insulted and therefore being irrational? Frankly I know the feeling. I grew up RW MO but now I have a brother who became charedi and only eats meat from Rabbi Rubin in EY and thus won’t eat meat in my house. It’s a bit insulting (I’m not on Rav Fischer’s level) But if you do a little investigation you will learn that many standards in kashrus are low and why should you risk being metamtem your lev? Why is gerus any different? Why should we risk marrying a non Jew ?

    • mycroft says:

      “I assume that the Conservative rabbi would say that he accepts Reform conversions if they are done according to Halakah, which includes a list of requirements and expectations.  If the convert lives up to the expectations and meets the requirements, then the conversion is valid regardless of what denomination the officiating rabbi represents.  You, on the other hand, are looking only at the rabbi rather than the convert and the conversion.  A non-Orthodox rabbi could officiate at the conversion that meets the highest Halakhic standards, but it would not matter to you.  ”

      Obviously, the Rav would agree with you-he required a get in a case of couple Reform conversion, Reform marriage followed by civil divorce-thusto him he wasworried that a Reform conversion might be enough to make a person Jewish.Of course, the story obviously shows that the Rav rejected RMFs heter on no get required on non Orthodox conversions.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Did RYBS “reject the logic of  RMF’s heter” before or after its issuance? In retrospect, it is very difficult to understand how any R conversion could possibly be viewed as halachically valid.

        • mycroft says:

          The sheila was asked to the Rav after the Rabbi who had the situation read RMFs tshuva and had problems with RMFs tshuva. Thus, clearly the sheila was after RMFs heter. You can’t understand how a R conversion could be halachikally valid-the Rav could understand how it could be valid.

  14. Mr. Cohen says:

    All Jewish communities need to emulate the Syrian-Jewish ban on converts.

    No more converts, period!

    The Syrian Jews have an intermarriage rate of less than 1% and the secret behind that is their ban on converts.

    When Jewish men realize that they cannot “convert” Gentile girls, they have no incentive to date Gentile girls.

    • Shaul says:

      That ignores the vast number of Jewish men who marry Gentile women without even attempting to convert them. Syrians have a less assimilated community – that has little to do with conversion.

    • Yonatan says:

      “No more converts, period!” – Completely heartless, Mr. Cohen.

    • Elly Shevin says:

      According to this article, the Supreme Rabbinical Court is calling the Trump conversion into question as well. GPS apparently means nothing to the Beis Din in Petach Tikva. As for “Nicole,” R. Lookstein’s non-GPS convert, she submitted to a giyur l’chumra. Onaas hager indeed!

      How is a judicial system supposed to function when one court can refuse to honor the decision of another, even decades later?

  15. Nachum says:

    R’ Fischer: I think your story about the panel is great. Unfortunately, it probably wouldn’t work today:

    1. First, the Conservative rabbi would almost certainly say that halakha isn’t the issue here, but rather acceptance by Israel’s Ministry of the Interior. And he has no problem having them recognize Reform conversions and marriages.

    2. Conservatism has gotten a lot more left-wing (and ignorant) in recent years. He might well respond that his conversions are also pretty lax. They’ll probably merge soon.

    3. He’d mumble a bunch of double talk. Heck, the Open Orthodox representative would either mumble a bunch of double talk or repeat the first point above proudly.

    Ah well. You can still draw out the truth.

    • mycroft says:

      “First, the Conservative rabbi would almost certainly say that halakha isn’t the issue here, but rather acceptance by Israel’s Ministry of the Interior. And he has no problem having them recognize Reform conversions and marriages”

      That is the issue-acceptance by Israels dept of Interior-everybody else couldn’t care less-ever community will accept or not accept gerim-Syrians in general won’t others will accept those from their BD-nothing new.

  16. rob says:

    What now seems to have happened is the the court did not actually invalidate R. Lookstein as a converting authority or invalidate all his conversions but rather it claims to have declined at this time to investigate the particular conversion in question and instead permit her to undergo geirus l’chumra to expedite the recognition of her Jewish status and allow her wedding to take place on the date planned.

    http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Supreme-Rabbinical-Court-sidesteps-recognition-of-Rabbi-Looksteins-conversions-460321

  17. dr. bill says:

    well i guess today’s decision clearly establishes the current nature of religious judges in Israel.  had they had any sense, as i suggested below, the original BD could have executed a giur le’chumrah WITHOUT the FANFARE.  But now the high court ends up at the same place, but in the process publically shaming Rabbi Lookstein and oppressing a ger.  btw is this about the rabbi or the convert?  given what transpired that seems obvious.

    fortunately organizations like beit hillel, Tzohar and ITIM exist.  who needs a centralized rabbinate controlled by members of a sect; read the comments by a chareidi politician gleeful that no members of Tzohar were added to the High Court.

    • Dov Fischer says:

      One important take-away, going forward: Any prospective Ger should insist on that written guarantee I mention. If the converting rav will not put a guarantee in writing, as I describe in my article, it well may behoove the prospective Ger to consider the advantage of converting via a GPS Bet Din.

      • dr. bill says:

        a better result is that ITIM, Tzohar, Beit Hillel, etc. are authorized to perform religious functions, breaking the abusive stranglehold.  If this opens the door for recognition of reform and conservative rabbis performing such functions, it would be something requiring careful evaluation.

      • Reb Yid says:

        Or perhaps not.  The RCA and its Beit Din are hardly free of politics either.  Why should it be the sole American arbiter of one’s Jewishness when dealing with Israeli authorities?  Some would not have an issue with this Beit Din or organization, but others might.

        • mycroft says:

          It is only the arbiter of Jewish for Israeli authorities for those who wish to make Aliyah as Orthodox-required to accept American Reform and Conservative certifications for Israeli citizenship.

          • mycroft says:

             
            Dov Fischer
             
            July 14, 2016 at 3:22 am
            The D.C. conversions all were investigated and validated. Where Avi has done a kosher giyur, he can apply for an investigation and validation, too. Same rules. Nothing political in that”

            Yes in a matter of days all of Freundels conversions were investigated and validated. Res ipsa loquitur-GPS had to say bureaucratically that you convert with us no matter the circumstances we stand behind you. I am not a fan in general of RAW-neither for his activism or his hashkafa-BUT we have no evidence that he has committed aveiros in the ball park of Freundel.

          • Dov Fischer says:

            I agree with you. Avi did not commit aveiros in the ballpark of Voldemort. Indeed, Avi is one of the most decent, loving, kind, gentle, self-sacrificing, and honest souls you ever will meet and whom I ever have met. He was one of my central inspirations to become a rav. It is perhaps one of the five greatest disappointments in my life that he went beyond the path that any of us could have foreseen 35 years ago.
            Today he actually is the one remaining rock of Gibraltar that is holding back the rest of the deluge that will flow from what he began. I hope he lives forever. He has started a movement that will extend to including “Orthodox rabbis” calling on Israel to negotiate dividing Jerusalem, giving up Judea and Samaria, and ceding to a Palestinian country. But they will not go there as long as he is on the scene.

          • mycroft says:

            “He has started a movement that will extend to including “Orthodox rabbis” calling on Israel to negotiate dividing Jerusalem, giving up Judea and Samaria, and ceding to a Palestinian country. But they will not go there as long as he is on the scene.”

            Forthose of us followingthe Rav the issue of Jerusalem is not a halachik issue. I heard him publicly in Spring of 68 in Rubin Schul state that “he would give up the Kotel Hammaravi  if it would save one Jewish life” He then went on to say that it was not his determination that it would but it is a military diplomatic question which he has no special expertise in. It is not an issue for Rabbonim or RY-it is a practical pikuach nefesh question the experts have to be those determined by the Israeli government.

          • mycroft says:

            “He was one of my central inspirations to become a rav. It is perhaps one of the five greatest disappointments in my life that he went beyond the path that any of us could have foreseen 35 years ago.”

            In the late 60s both RHS and RAW used to on alternate Shabbosim give a shiur in Rubin schul between kiddush and lunch. I attended both-both RHS andRAW IMO developed in the way that is consistent with their approach in the 60s.

          • Yehoshua Friedman says:

            And then years later when their kids want to get married, these Israeli citizens who served in the IDF are told that they are not Jewish according to halacha and can’t marry a Jew in Israel? And then the leftist journalists write irate articles about the case of the day/week/month/year? And then they either do giur or go to Cyprus and get married, cursing all the rabbis without distinction. We don’t want that to happen.

        • dr. bill says:

          the RCA is not the sole arbiter.  The rabbis from the agudah, unlike non-chareidim have different rules.  geirim who have heimeshe hashgacha are also normally accepted.  i agree that rabbis from approved yeshivot or organizations (as opposed to the organization itself)  ought be routinely accepted.  anyone can then marry by the rabbi of their choosing.

          The abuse rabbi fischer described plagues communities on the right as well;  given my views, i refrain from being specific.  fortunately, like any area, the halakhot of chazakah and rov apply.

          • Reb Yid says:

            i agree that rabbis from approved yeshivot or organizations

            Here’s the rub and where it gets too political.

            Can’t really take this seriously if Rav Avi gets snubbed here while Freundel’s conversions (and his involvement on local and national Batei Din) get a free pass.

             

             

          • Dov Fischer says:

            The D.C. conversions all were investigated and validated. Where Avi has done a kosher giyur, he can apply for an investigation and validation, too. Same rules. Nothing political in that.

          • Reb Yid says:

            The D.C. conversions all were investigated and validated. Where Avi has done a kosher giyur, he can apply for an investigation and validation, too. Same rules. Nothing political in that.

            Oh please–from an organization that has kicked him out and done everything it can to quash some of his achievements?

             

          • Dov Fischer says:

            What a disappointing comment! But a testament to the important way that we encourage free speech.
            1. Avi was not kicked out. He resigned. So you got that fact wrong.
            2. He should have been “kicked out.” So I really do wish you knew what you were talking about. Alas!
            3. GPS is totally apolitical. I know the rabbonim involved in the BDA validation process; they are the most apolitical Torah-true rabbonim. So you got that fact wrong. You don’t believe me? Fine, so don’t believe me.
            4. Name an “achievement” of Avi’s that RCA has “done everything it can to quash.” You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about in this post. But you have a keyboard and an internet connection, so enjoy your First Amendment privileges. Just don’t yell “Movie” in a crowded fire station.

          • mycroft says:

            “plagues communities on the right as well;  given my views, i refrain from being specific.  fortunately, like any area, the halakhot of chazakah and rov apply.”

            I was told by that Rabbi 30 years ago when I challenged him about who can trust Rabbis to keep their word decades later about gerim-he was shocked by my question-answering there would be a chazakah-and no one would dream decades later of questioning gerus of those who continued in the Jewish community. Obviously, in this case he was wrong not being able to believe that politics would trump yosher.

          • Dov Fischer says:

            In defense of that nameless hearsay rabbi, thirty years ago he probably did not have the foresight to anticipate an intermarriage rate exceeding 50% with a tsunami of non-halakhic conversions.

          • dr. bill says:

            for a different perspective that fundamentally challenges the reason for the RCA’s actions see

            http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/ivanka-trump-and-rabbinic-corruption-2/

            my sense is the “tsunami of non-halakhic  conversions” must refer to reform and conservative rabbis.  i have seen no evidence that orthodox rabbis encounter more intermarriage among congregants than modern orthodox rabbis of 50 years ago whose congregants were much less traditional.

          • mycroft says:

            “i agree that rabbis from approved yeshivot or organizations (as opposed to the organization itself)  ought be routinely accepted.  anyone can then marry by the rabbi of their choosing”

            Which effectively was the policy pre 2006 If osmone needed proof of gerus for Israel the BDA certified that the 3 Rabbis were in good standing and Israel accepted them for decades. Of course, you answer who knows they were kopsher and did a good job-well that problen happened under GPS-the Chairman of RCA Geirut Policies and Standards Task Force is serving jaol time for violating repeatedly basic halachot that he did while being mgayer people. In a matter of days the “investigation” OK all the gerus was completed. Some investigation-as good as theFBI interviewing a presidential candidate wo a stenographer present.

        • Steve brizel says:

          Proof please?

      • mycroft says:

        How can GPS guarantee a conversion-maybe there was fraud ab initio by the ger. Maybe the Bes Din was posul? Or maybe that doesn’t matter as long as one is protecting an institution bureaucracy rather than amito shel Torah

        • mycroft says:

          Dov Fischer
           
          July 15, 2016 at 12:27 am
          In defense of that nameless hearsay rabbi, thirty years ago he probably did not have the foresight to anticipate an intermarriage rate exceeding 50% with a tsunami of non-halakhic conversions”

          It might surprise you but the 80s had high intermarriage rates

          “in the past, Jewish men were much more likely than Jewish women to intermarry. Although rates of intermarriage and mixed marriage for both men and women have risen steadily over time, Jewish men are still more likely than Jewish women to intermarry. . . . The proportion of inmarriages declines by thirty-five percent in three decades, from ninety percent before 1960 to fifty-five percent in the decade of the 1980s. For Jewish women, the proportion of inmarriages declines by twenty-eight percent during the same period, from ninety-eight percent to seventy percent.”

          http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/intermarriage-and-conversion-in-united-states

          thus then 45% of men and 30 % of women intermarried.  In response to your comment I decided to do a search engine search putting the Rabbis name and intermarriage and found from the early 80s discussions of dangers of intermarriage and why we could not accept gerus of those who do not accept halacha. The same person emphasized chazaka to me of no one challenging gerus decades later.

          I am sure you could get similar results by checking the actual records of what was done. Remember in the earlier days who was the chairman of the Halachik Commission of the RCA. Not only a leading RY but one who was a manhig outside the beis medrash was aware of what is actually happening in the field.

  18. Sholom says:

    This doesn’t reduce chaos. All it does is transfer YOUR feelings of chaos (about not knowing who the real Jews are) onto converts (who will live the rest of their lives with the chaos of knowing their Jewishness can be nullified at any time).  
     

    • Dov Fischer says:

      Your comment is false. Scroll down or up through the comments. I have explained the matter you raise numerous times below.
      Jewishness never can be annulled. Bernie Sanders is Jewish. Leon Trotsky was Jewish. A Jew is a Jew. But if the person never converted halakhically in the first place, if her or she perpetrated a contemporaneous fraud and deceit on the Bet Din, then it is like signing a contract with fraud and deceit. The contract was void ab initio because it never happened in the first place. If you tell a Bet Din that you believe in G-d but you are lying, if you say you believe in Maamad Har Sinai or TSBP and you are knowingly lying, then you never converted in the first place.

      • mycroft says:

        “A Jew is a Jew. But if the person never converted halakhically in the first place, if her or she perpetrated a contemporaneous fraud and deceit on the Bet Din, then it is like signing a contract with fraud and deceit. The contract was void ab initio because it never happened in the first place. If you tell a Bet Din that you believe in G-d but you are lying, if you say you believe in Maamad Har Sinai or TSBP and you are knowingly lying, then you never converted in the first place.”

        All true statements-but then how can you say that one who converts by GPS automatically won’t have their gerus challenged. A fraud by the ger is just as likely on the GPS system than one where the gerus is done by those on the ground who know local facts. The Rav ZT”L would often refuse to pasken for talmidim on factual situations-“You’re there I’m not” Of course in both cases chazaka was the standard for determining gerus decades later. It is a burden of proof question.

      • Charlie Hall says:

        “if the person never converted halakhically in the first place, if her or she perpetrated a contemporaneous fraud and deceit on the Bet Din, then it is like signing a contract with fraud and deceit. The contract was void ab initio”

        This is of course correct. That that does not seem to be the issue with this case, at least according to published media reports.

      • dr. bill says:

        when Rav Goren ztl (and the 10 dayanim who agreed with him) was matir the Langer twins, he went one step further – he argued that a geirut before the rabbi claimed may never have happened – a step beyond fraud.  Fraud is difficult to establish, conclusively.  there are opinions, that we do not follow, that kabbalat hamitzvot is what BD should use as a criteria, but the formalism of a proper milah and tevillah makes one a jew.  thus some would prefer a get le’chumrah if the “convert” leaves wife after such a fraudulent geirut.  OTOH, in cases of potential mamzeirut, a geirut obtained by deceit should certainly be declared null and void. In anycase, geirut, even where there is deceit, may have some limited status.

        • Steve Brizel says:

          Neither RYBS nor RYSA ( who was then on the Beis Din Hagadol and who resigned over the Langer Psak of R Goren ZL) approved of the Psak in question.

      • mycroft says:

        Jewishness can’t be annulled but that is worthless if one has to fight for recognition-especially when promised that upon conversion they will be treated as any other Jew.

  19. Charlie Hall says:

    ““Please provide me with a formal written guarantee that any conversion I do under your sponsorship will be accepted by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate now and in the future.””

    There is no way to guarantee that, no matter how hard you try.

     

    “The only converts not treated as legitimate are those by standard RCA Rabbis pre 2006.”

    This is correct; I personally know of pre-2006 RCA converts who were not accepted by the CR. Baruch HaShem ITIM was able to help  them navigate their way through the completely non-transparent bureaucracy.

    And it isn’t just converts; I was an eid for a Brooklyn wedding of a couple who could not get married in Israel because the CR would not accept the chatan as Jewish. The existence of four living unquestionably Jewish grandparents in the US was of no interest to them. But he was a BT in a family that had had no observant members for four generations.

    And the stated reason for the rejection of Rabbi Lookstein’s convert is ridiculous — that they were unfamiliar with him? Rabbi Lookstein has been a rabbi at one of the largest and most successful orthodox synagogues in America for over 57 years! They will get to see him next week as Rabbi Lookstein will be giving an invocation at the Republican National Convention.

    • Dov Fischer says:

      “They will get to see him next week as Rabbi Lookstein will be giving an invocation at the Republican National Convention.”

      And if Mezvinsky had gotten a rabbi to convert Chelsea, then he or she would be doing an invocation the following week at the Democrat Convention.

      • mycroft says:

        And Rabbi Feldman made invocations in the Carter Conventions because he knew Carter from Atlanta, Rabbi Soloveichik similarly an open Republican made an invocation at the Romney Convention.

    • rob says:

      Is it R. Lookstein who has to be investigated? I don’t know, but I suspect not. I suspect its the non-GPS Beit Din that converted the woman in question that needs to be investigated to be able to trust the sitting dayanim, their semicha, and other things unknown to the Israeli Rabbinate (like her previous marital and halakhic status)  That investigations take so long is frustrating and to some degree a function of bureaucracy and of the decentralized nature of rabbinic authority in the Diaspora). It seems GPS was created to speed up and ease recognition of conversions, not keep conversions from taking place.

      • Dov Fischer says:

        Exactly. Thank you for expressing it so clearly and correctly.

      • Elly Shevin says:

        If the woman in question is really a convert, isn’t it true that as far as halakha is concerned, she has no marital status? And her halakhic status would be “outsider.”

  20. Reb Yid says:

    Here is a link to Rav Lookstein’s elegant piece in this week’s Jewish Week

    http://www.thejewishweek.com/editorial-opinion/opinion/travesty-rabbinical-justice-israel

    While most of his piece correctly focuses on the incredible humiliation foisted upon the convert here, the following statement makes this whole episode even more damning:

    Finally, my reaction is one of concern for what the rabbinate in Israel is saying about Modern Orthodox rabbis in America.  In effect, they are ruling that the conversions performed by Modern Orthodox rabbis in America are worthless. By what right do they rule this way?  Do they have any idea of how we study with a convert and bring the convert along in both knowledge and practicing a halachic life and then take the convert to the mikvah?  Did any of them — in Petach Tikva or Jerusalem — call me to find out my procedures or the nature of the convert?  Absolutely not. On what basis, therefore, did they decide? 

    • Dov Fischer says:

      1. He should read my article.
      2. What is his solution for the mess?
      3. Why did he do Ivanka via GPS but not all other of his post-2006 conversions?
      4. Many “conversions” done in America are worthless. JUst as many food hekhsherim are worthless.
      5. No, they do not have any idea because they are posed with a tsunami of conversions including many chaotic.

      In the end, because there was an impending wedding, they graciously accepted a 1-2-3 giyur l’chumra. Do you realize how liberal that decision is? It means that, if the conversion was utterly no good, they just rushed her to the froint of the line of the Jewish people. Because she had applied late, they did not want to disturb her wedding.

      In a world of trigger warnings and microaggressions and safe spaces, everything is “Moishe Kapiyeh.”
      Imagine if every one of the 11 million or 14 million undocumented immigrants in the United States had an option of immersing in a pool and thereupon becoming American citizens, end-of-story? Cruel? Unfeeling?

      Just the opposite. They would be building more pools so fast — and guess who would pay for it.

      • Ruvieruvie says:

        Are you speaking of “modern orthodox conversions”? or just stam conversions which no one here is discussing and implying a misleading conclusion. Are you really claiming that most modern orthodox conversions are worthless?

      • Steve brizel says:

        The issue is obvious. GPS is supposed to be a universal standard for all post 2006  conversions by RCA members. Is its use universal or not? Like it or not R Fischer has ably documented why GPS is necessary and why claims that conversions are being rejected wholesale retroactively should be rejected especially when such claims are made behind a cloak of anonymity

         

        • mycroft says:

          The major impact is the cloud that on gerim and their families that has been done by the new system. Unless moving to Israel it has no impact-but don’t underestimate the cloud-gerim know how to read.

      • David Ohsie says:

        “In the end, because there was an impending wedding, they graciously accepted a 1-2-3 giyur l’chumra. Do you realize how liberal that decision is? It means that, if the conversion was utterly no good, they just rushed her to the front of the line of the Jewish people. Because she had applied late, they did not want to disturb her wedding.”

        What this means is the Rabbis themselves affirmed that they had no basis for invalidating the conversion to begin with.   If the concern of the Rabbis was that they could look at the person now and see that they were so obviously non-observant and uncommitted to Mitzvos that they could discern that the original acceptance of the Mitzvos was invalid, then how could they accept a declaration of acceptance of Mitzvos now?    The idea of doing this is questionable to begin with, but that could not have been their basis here.

        The only other basis would be that they believed that there was no conversion at all to being with because the original Beis Din consisted of pasul Jews and that they consider R. Lookstein to be the equivalent of a Reform Rabbi.

        A solution to the mess, unfortunately, is to take the monopoly on ritual ceremonies away from the Rabbanut.  The if the Rabbis misbehave, you can go to another Rabbi.  Another partial solution would be for the RCA to object to this abuse by the Rabbis in Israel.

        Why did he do Ivanka via GPS but not all other of his post-2006 conversions?”

        This is an  insinuation that you have mentioned twice.  Could you state openly what you mean by this?  Do you mean that he is corrupt in some way?  If you are going to criticize someone, you should make it clear your criticism.   Ironically, your statement sounds Trumpian.

        • Dov Fischer says:

          Only twice? So let me make it a chazakah:
          Why did he do Ivanka via GPS but not all other of his post-2006 conversions?

          I await your response.

          • David Ohsie says:

            Here is the answer: I don’t know and I have no way of knowing.  I don’t even know enough to understand why this question presents a conundrum in your opinion.

            I have no basis whatsoever to make any demands from you, but if you were serious about your question, could you explain now what you meant?  Questions like of the form “why did X do Y” appear to be insinuations.  Please clarify your criticism.

          • Dov Fischer says:

            Not so easy to make a list. Once you make a list, it comes under challenge: why is this one on the list; why is that one not included.

          • David Ohsie says:

            Rabbi Fischer, I honestly don’t know what you mean.  You appear to be sending coded messages.   Both your question about why R Lookstein converted Ivanka Trump via GPS and your latest comments about lists are not intelligible to me.

            Again, I have no basis to make demands from you, but could you clarify your statements, if only to better convince others of the justice of your cause?

        • mycroft says:

          ” The if the Rabbis misbehave, you can go to another Rabbi.  Another partial solution would be for the RCA to object to this abuse by the Rabbis in Israel.” to quote Marc Stern in his article in Orthodox Forum about Conversion page 450 “…-as it is now true of non-RCA Orthodox conversions-but it amounts to a veto of any psak which meets disapproval in B’nai Brak and Jerusalem. Batei din in those localities  enjoy luxuries that others responsible for more open parts of the community do not.”

           

        • Rob says:

          Unless R. Lookstein was on the conversion beis din in question, I cannot understand how the rabbinic court in Israel could, in this case, passul him because their decision in this case applies only to the one conversion case in question. Other conversions that RHL has sponsored (e.g. via GPS) have not been passuled as a result of this case.

          I’m shocked to see all over the Jewish world web sites and news outlets much profound ignorance of conversion laws and the purposeful dissembling about the case that I suspect is for undermining existing halacha and Rabbinic authority in favor of more “liberal” rulings of leniency, shortcuts, “innovations” and plain transgressions.

           

  21. Steve Brizel says:

    The rav of my shul learned in Charedi yeshivos and did shimush under both RMF and RYSA. He once related to me that he was entrusted by RMF to deliver a Psak or a Get rendered by RMF to dayanim in Israel. The “dayanim” looked at the Psak and literally tore the same to shreds. Like it or not, the GPS system spares Gerim that inappropriate response which was rendered to a Psak by the Posek HaDor and address for most halachic issues in the US of his generation.

    • mycroft says:

      “The rav of my shul learned in Charedi yeshivos and did shimush under both RMF and RYSA. He once related to me that he was entrusted by RMF to deliver a Psak or a Get rendered by RMF to dayanim in Israel. The “dayanim” looked at the Psak and literally tore the same to shreds. Like it or not, the GPS system spares Gerim that inappropriate response which was rendered to a Psak by the Posek HaDor and address for most halachic issues in the US of his generation.”

      The GPS  refusing to not follow prior policy of validating pre 2006 gerus-proves that there could easily be a time of vayakam melech chadash asher lo yada et yoseph and not accept GPS conversions automatically. BTW what is the halachik basis of that if a GPS convert engaged in fraud against the BD, or one found out the BD was comprised of violators of basic halacha. What does an institutional imprimatur mean if the gerus was not kosher ab initio.

    • dr. bill says:

      Steve Brizel, I can almost believe some dayan in Israel claiming jurisdictional authority and discarding a psak on some local issue by RMF ztl.  But a get, is entirely not believable.  Any dayan who can treat RMF that way is capable of anything.  GPS is a political agreement that I can easily see a chareidi dayan, especially a dayan like the one you reference, not respecting.

      • Steve brizel says:

        Maaseh shayah kach hayah

      • Steve brizel says:

        you should read the text of the GPS before offering your POV as to its merits or lack thereof.

        • mycroft says:

          The arguments have not been on the GPS standards promulgated under Rabbi Freundels Chairmanship-it has been on the obvious false assumption that those Rabbis in charge of GPS are automatically more trustworthy and reliable than a general Rabbi.

          There can be some points of discussion as to proper guidelines-first suggest reading the recent Orthodox Forum volume on conversions. Maybe that should be required reading before offering ones POV on gerus procedures.

          • mycroft says:

            BTW-the text of the GPS standards are found in the Orthodox Forum volume-another book worth reading is Conversion Halakhah and Practice by Menachem Finkelstein , to see different approaches to gerus see the exchange between Rabbi Marc Angel and Rabbi Melech Schachter in Traditon about 45 years ago-not a new debate. Of course, the quickest way to get a background is to read the gerus topic in the Encyclopedia Talmudit.

          • dr. bill says:

            if some of the cross-current authors read the Orthodox Forum on conversions, YU may end up to the left of YCT. 🙂

          • Steve brizel says:

            Obviously you have refused to review and or offer your Pov on the GPS. The fact that freundel was the chair of the commission that drafted GPS is irrelevant as to the pluses or minuses of the same. You really should avoid commenting on a document that you freely admit that you seem not to have ever read.

  22. Steve Brizel says:

    Mycroft wrote:

    Those Rabbonim are not concerned about personal benefit-they know when to fight and when not to. Fighting is suicidal against those who have the power and are willing to distort our menorah. See eg how the Ravs viewpoints have been distorted by some people including RY. I have cited many times on this blog Prof kaplans article, Dr T ovah Lichtenstein,s article”

    Repeating statements that have been questionned here repeatedly as to the conclusions contained herein clearly does not mean that the often repeated statements should be accepted like a Halacha LMoshe MiSinai. They are merely opinions  that deserve respect, but certainly not blind acceptance.

    • mycroft says:

      “Repeating statements that have been questionned here repeatedly”

      Who has questioned Dr Lichtenstein’s article? What basis do they have that leading  current RY have not rejected a lot of RYBS?

      Who has successfully disproved the examples of Prof Kaplan? Written by someone who over the years Prof Kaplan has disagreed with me many times,

      • Steve brizel says:

        Professor Kaplan wrote an article that expresses your POV. That hardly means that it is Toras Emes on the subject in question. I have previously pointed out when and where Dr Lichtenstein s  perspective can be questioned as it is not the last word on the subject and repeating my observations on this issue is bitul zman

        • mycroft says:

          “Professor Kaplan wrote an article that expresses your POV.”

          Prof Kaplan wrote an article showing revisionism on theRav by BOTH the right and the left-he gives many examples-show where his examples are false. It is not a question of POV it is a question of fact. It is not a question of liking him or not .His article is available online show factual mistakes in his article.

          Prof Kaplan has many times over the years disagreed with me on blogs.

      • Steve brizel says:

        Your constant reiteration of the same tired attack on the RY of RIETS has been shown wanting by other posters such as R Shmuel Landesman and does not warrant further elaboration in response.

        • mycroft says:

          I am simply pointing out the obvious fact that many have noted most noticeably Prof Lichtenstein,Prof Kaplan,Prof Waxman that RIETS has changed its hashkafa since the Ravs ptirah due to revisionism in RIETS.

      • Steve brizel says:

        Professor Kaplan is a well respected MO intellectual who edited one of RYBSs articles. Ask yourself whether Professor Kaplan would or should be considered as a Talmud Chacham. There is a not insubstantial difference between a Talmud Chacham and an intellectual technician. Citing professor Kaplan’s article merely highlights and underscores that difference.

        • mycroft says:

          I am looking for the truth I am not asking Prof Kaplan sheilas-if he is writing accurately the attacks on his person are irrelevant. If he is inaccurate show where he is.

        • dr. bill says:

          The opinions of Dr. Lichtenstein, Dr. Waxman, and Dr. Kaplan have never been challenged by anything other than personal anecdotes, many by people “shelo yada es Yosef.”  But then again you think even rabbi Meiselman and his entourage represents the Rav ztl’s weltanschauung.
           
          And btw to note differences does not require a talmid chacham or even daas torah.

          • Steve brizel says:

            I stand by my previously stated opinions and consider lthis thread as irrelevant to use a charitable adjective.

          • Steve brizel says:

            Discussing the Mesorah of Rybs really entails fat more than consulting with a leading MO intellectual. Like it or not the three volumes of Harei Kedem . R Moshe Twersky and R Meiselmans still peerless work on the issues raised by feminism deserve to be considered as much as the Mesorah of Rybs as the brilliant philosophical works drashos and shiurim.

  23. Steve Brizel says:

    http://www.judaismconversion.org/GPS_Policies_and_Procedures.html It might be worthwhile for anyone interested, especially those who have consistently questioned the need and value of the GPS to read about the actual standards, rather than to criticize the same in a vacuum.

    • mycroft says:

      If Cross currents wants to have a discussion on the standards let them have one.

      I would open with a discussion ” commit to 12 years Orthodox day school education for that child”

      How can one commit-one does not know the future skills of a child-are they part of the above average IQ who can handle a day school, the parents have no way of knowing if they will be able to afford a day school. Perhaps a fair discussion of the pluses and minus of day school education on the MO  Community. If it has been so successful why are there essentially the same amount of MO day school students today as 30 years ago? All worthwhile discussions.

      The discussion here has been based on Rabbi Fischer’s post

      • Steve brizel says:

        There you go again claiming without a shred of evidence that a Talmud Torah education suffices as a means of transmitting literacy in basic Jewish texts and observance when it is more clear then ever that only s k-12 yeshiva education together with a supportive family structure and community structures that focus on the transmission of Torah values are the tools that will accomplish that goal and have produced textually literate and committed Jews

        • mycroft says:

          There you go again ignoring the impact of lack of entry to MO world unless one enters a day school which either due to economic requirements or intellectual requirements leaves a substantial portion michutz lemachane. Of course, you know are proud of a scandalous economic  entrance requirement that has apparently been made to enter kanfei hashechina

          • Steve Brizel says:

            The answer is simple-as a parent, your responsibility is to send your child to the yeshiva where your child will get the best education in Limudei Kodesh and Limudei Chol that is suitable, regardless of hashkafa. That means if your son has the skills to become a plumber , carpenter or electrician, don’t sacrifice his needs which the Charedi community can fulfill by insisting on your personal need of a high level MO education.

      • Steve brizel says:

        Measurng success of yeshivos solely by looking at the MO world is not accurate.you have to look the enrollment per grade where the students are religiously as adults and especially look at the dynamic K-kollel growth in the charedi community. Any study that limits itself to MO schools is flawed in its scope and focus.

        • mycroft says:

          It is flawed to let the day schools take credit for the change in Orthodox population that happened as a result of WWII -the influx of Chasidic and Hareidim to the US along with their great fertility has changed the makeup. For better or worse there is very little crossover on a per cent level between the two different sociological groups. Thus, for MO population- the rel;evant question is how many of those who attended day schools 30/40  years ago have children who attended day schools/yeshivas etc.

          The growth in kollels is essentially irrelevant to MO community-some good Rabbonim have developed from that but that has not been a major destination of the children of those who went to MO schools. PR to the contrary. Data please.

          • Steve brizel says:

            A survey designed to meet your conclusions isn’t worth the paper it is written on.

          • Steve Brizel says:

            Dr Jack Wertheimer wrote in Commentary that at least 20% of the current talmidim in BMG are from MO families. Marginalizing the Charedi world to avoid discussions that affect both the MO and Charedi worlds and what they could learn from each other is illustrative of a failure to face the facts that none other than RAL ZL mentioned in two published articles.

  24. Steve brizel says:

    A few posters have mentioned the issurim related to onaas Hager. If you want to see evidence of this issue just look at the petition that may have very well been a factor in declining an invitation from a prominent giyores to speak there. Read the comments and you will see proot of what happens when “progressive and liberal values” take precprecedence over a commitment to the preservation and transmission of Torah and halacha even after 12 years of a day school education

  25. ROBERT LEBOVITS says:

    Rabbi Fischer,

    I believe many if not most of the objections to your presentation are rooted in a particularly destructive mindset known as the “normalcy bias”. Essentially it refers to the cognitive process by which people attempt to impose past experiences on current events. For example, during Hurricane Katrina many residents under threat of destruction refused to leave because they had endured many hurricanes before and therefore discounted the warnings that this hurricane was so much worse than the ones in the past. The unfortunate consequence was much greater loss of life.

    In the world of halacha the normalcy bias plays out something like this: If this (standard/practice/custom/level of observance) was good enough for my (parents/ grandparents/ previous rav/ community of origin/ school of origin) then it is certainly good enough today and any alteration must be due to some sort of (political/ ulterior/ unnecessary/ self-serving) motivation that has nothing to do with a halachic need.

    I have witnessed this process in action both in the MO community – whenever a move is made that enhances observance by recommending practices that are more stringent – as well as the yeshivish/chareidi world – whenever programs are offered to address modern dilemmas that call for recognition and adaptation such as the RCA prenup agreement or curricula on increased awareness to the presence of sexual abuse in our midst.

    I am not suggesting that all critiques are meritless; only that the intensity and perseverative nature of the comments speaks to a reaction that goes beyond reason. Sadly, we are virtually hard-wired to resist change that challenges our comfort zones.

    • Dov Fischer says:

      Thank you for this insightful and really brilliantly presented observation, Mr. Lebovits. Really, a gem of an observation.

    • dr. bill says:

      changes that violate the rules of halakha or are disrespectful of previous practice by competent poskim have to be strongly questioned.  any tradition based religion must be “hard-wired” that way. often we legitimately do not know what a word means precisely absent a mimetic tradition; some chumrot come from ignorance about the meaning of a word.

      • ROBERT LEBOVITS says:

        What constitutes “disrespect” for previous practice is precisely a matter of judgement based on one’s perceptions of past actions and present events. Mesorah is all about adherence to precedent while accommodating to new facts on the ground. Change must be deliberate and well-reasoned. Resistance to change should also be deliberate and well-reasoned, not driven by sources of discomfort to change. The latter can be discerned by the manner in which resistance is manifest.

        • dr. bill says:

          who said anything about “new facts on the ground.” ??? there are plenty of examples of change in practice absent any change of circumstance and yet more based on changes that are not consequential.

  26. Steve brizel says:

    The Meshech Chachmah on Bamidbar 25:3 writes that a “gerus chadash” was required in the aftermath of the incident of Shittim as a prerequisite for entry into the Land of Israel in the same manner as Gerus was required before Matan Torah. Obviously the notion of a gerus to reestablish one’s ability to bring korbanos is not a foreign idea but one rooted based in Tanach and Chazal

    • dr. bill says:

      Even you cannot be serious.  First, we do not derive halakha from aggadah, period.  Second, there is no hint of a formal process for geirut in the torah; what you quote is entirely a retrojection of current practice.  The appropriate response is to identify the possible messages chazal wanted to convey.
       

      • Steve brizel says:

        Look at the MeshChachmah inquestion and then ask why Sefer Yehoshuah opens with the same process of milah and karbanos that preceded Matan Torah

        Many Rishonim in a sugya in Yevamos view these events as a means of taharah. The Meshech Chachmah is offering what he describes as a chiddush but R Cooperman zl pointed out that the Meshech Chachmah derived many chidushim from what you term as agggados and narratives in the Torah.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Dr Bill wrote in relevant part:

        “.  Second, there is no hint of a formal process for geirut in the torah; what you quote is entirely a retrojection of current practice”

        The Talmud certainly understands that Shmos 12 ( Karban Pesach and Milah) and  19:11-12 contain the elements of  Gerus. Your conclusion is driven by a disconnect between Torah Shebicsav and TSBP.

  27. ROBERT LEBOVITS says:

    Rabbi Fischer,
    I believe many if not most of the objections to your presentation are rooted in a particularly destructive mindset known as the “normalcy bias”. Essentially it refers to the cognitive process by which people attempt to impose past experiences on current events. For example, during Hurricane Katrina many residents under threat of destruction refused to leave because they had endured many hurricanes before and therefore discounted the warnings that this hurricane was so much worse than the ones in the past. The unfortunate consequence was much greater loss of life.
    In the world of halacha the normalcy bias plays out something like this: If this (standard/practice/custom/level of observance) was good enough for my (parents/ grandparents/ previous rav/ community of origin/ school of origin) then it is certainly good enough today and any alteration must be due to some sort of (political/ ulterior/ unnecessary/ self-serving) motivation that has nothing to do with a halachic need.
    I have witnessed this process in action both in the MO community – whenever a move is made that enhances observance by recommending practices that are more stringent – as well as the yeshivish/chareidi world – whenever programs are offered to address modern dilemmas that call for recognition and adaptation such as the RCA prenup agreement or curricula on increased awareness to the presence of sexual abuse in our midst.
    I am not suggesting that all critiques are meritless; only that the intensity and perseverative nature of the comments speaks to a reaction that goes beyond reason. Sadly, we are virtually hard-wired to resist change that challenges our comfort zones.

  28. Steve Brizel says:

    http://haemtza.blogspot.com/2016/07/the-truth-about-growth-of-orthodoxy.html?utm_content=buffer48c2f&utm_medium=social&utm_source=plus.google.com&utm_campaign=buffer

    Dr. Chaim Waxman, who is consistently cited as an authority here on the lack of growth within Orthodoxy, explains why such a view is both simplistic and inaccurate.

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