Postscript to the Conversion Controversy

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8 Responses

  1. BR says:

    “They moved antipodally from their earlier position, and challenged all US conversion, other than that of people they felt they knew well”. I identify with the black hat crowd in the US. However, it appears that Chareidi associated Batei Din in the US are commonly accepted by the Rabbanut. It seems that only RCA/YU Rabbis were affected. I guess”knowing well” means “knowing well how they identify.”

    • Definitely not true. When they clamped down, they questioned (and often went further than that) people in the haredi world as well. There was no shortage of those who had, shall we say, less than stellar reputations. I know of cases where the Rabbanut found gittin of some rabbanim so sloppy that they figured out that the head honcho was just a garden-variety kal, and therefore stop accepting their giyur as well.

  2. David Z says:

    Then analogy to kashrut seems unnecessary and misleading–kashrut is nowhere near as important as gerut, and we (the unsophisticated and godless) may rely on individual rabbis for kashrut for all kinds of reasons which we wouldn’t want for something as important as gerut (and for Israelis with the citizenship that comes with it).

    But I did apparently misunderstand R’ Fischer.  He wrote: “By contrast, Rav Lookstein’s earlier conversions that pre-dated the GPS can be subject to the same pro forma confirmation process that I would expect would be applied to those who converted on my watch.”

    Thus, I thought that the lady who was converted by him year ago was converted pre-GPS.  Not post-GPS and outside the system.  Which is very strange since R’ Lookstein uses GPS (as he did with Ivanka).  So which is correct?

    • Rob says:

      There is a lack of information from the parties involved (the woman in question, RHL, and the Israeli rabbinic court in question), so we cannot answer such questions as to when and how she was converted who may or may not have suggested GPS route, why the conversion was not accepted bedieved by the court, etc. . And this is as it should be, out of respect for and sensitivity to the parties involved, in keeping with halacha. Only those ignorant of halacha or those trying to use the woman’s conversion as a political cudgel would make non-sequitur statements to the media like “Lookstein’s conversions were declared valid” (only a beis din performs conversion, not an individual rabbi) or “Rabbi Lookstein was passuled” (which no authority ever declared). All we know is that the court offered a choice of either investigation of the conversion like any non-GPS conversion (which would have not concluded until after her scheduled wedding date) or giyur l’chumra to expedite permission to marry. That the court is bureaucratically slow and poorly poorly represented by the media is a separate matter.

  3. Elly Shevin says:

    “Such inconvenience should be recognized to be the price we pay to protect the interests of geirim….”

    Protect their interests from whom, exactly? From unscrupulous practitioners, to be sure. But also from the suspicious or intolerant who reject the conversions, gittin, or hashgacha of anyone they happen not to fancy–the rightward tilt R. Adlerstein mentions.

    Whatever happened to chezkas kashrus? The Supreme Rabbinical Court reject R. Lookstein’s conversions, GPS or not, because he’s not “on their list.” Well, if they don’t know him, let them investigate him. If they do know him, how do they come to regard his fidelity to Torah so lacking that he cannot be trusted?

    Is the rightward tilt leading toward, or away from, normative halacha? If the latter, should we resign ourselves to the pragmatic course R. Adlerstein describes, or should we fight back?

  4. “Moreover, to pretend that all halachic positions are created equal is illusory. They aren’t. And like it or not, the Modern Orthodox community has shrunk to somewhere between one-quarter to one-third of the total Orthodox population. You can differ with the haredi world, but you cannot discount its effect on halachic decision-making. The halacha of the future will tilt right.”

    Rabbi Adlerstein, you are ignoring Israel when you draw this conclusion. Most of the population in Israel, including most of the religious/tradition population, simply doesn’t care what the charedim do or say in terms of halakhah. And now more than ever before that includes the area of marriage and conversion. And it also includes talmidei hakhamim.

    We live in an integrated world, with Israel ever more at the center of the Jewish world, and its influence on diaspora modern Orthdodoxy will only increase. The halakhah of the future will tilt towards whatever is appropriate and realistic pesak for the mainstream inhabitants of Israel.

    • Of course I’m ignoring Israel. The current controversy is in regard to conversion standards practiced in the US.

      Can’t help but respond to your remark about haredim in Israel, although it has nothing to do with my piece. As far as Israel, what “most of the population in Israel, including most of the religious/tradition population,” is just as irrelevant. No authentic Orthodox community can survive without top-notch Torah leadership. It is what that leadership respects that will be dispositive. Top-echelon talmidei chachamim in the Dati-Leumi community have never been dismissive of those at the top of the haredi halacha pyramid. Even as the DL world BH produces more and finer talmidei chachamim of their own (as they have been doing for some time), it is very doubtful that they will dismiss those whose learning they will respect.

      • mycroft says:

        An interesting assumption that what will be the final practice follows what gedolim wish-really? How did Simchas Torah develop leining at night? Multiple Aliot?  Are there gedolim happy with the very quickie IDF conversions?

        Probably, could use a long discussion of Halacha/practice developing both top up and bottom down.

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