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Stop screwing with the converts already!

It’s hard to find an orthodox convert who only converted once, usually they had to do it once or twice before they even discovered orthodoxy. Almost every convert I have ever met has at least 2 conversions under their belt, if not many more than that and it’s bound to get worse with the latest news. Apparently, the interior ministry in Israel is not accepting conversions done by members of Rabbi Avi Weiss’s organization the IRF, does this mean that some people may have to get multiple orthodox conversions along with their already paid for conservative and reform conversions?

Can you imagine walking into someone’s study and seeing all their conversion papers up on the wall like degrees? Apparently the RCC is the strictest and baddest ass of all conversion agencies, so their degree is best.

I know a lot of converts and potential converts read this blog and it kind of irks me (as I’m sure it does you) that these people can be so fickle about people’s lives, converts are extremely straight – they want to be Jewish and will do whatever it takes (just look at that chick who was rocking it threesome style with Tropper and his wife). Converts aren’t just to be played around with and it seems like the more I hear about this organization not accepting that Rabbis conversions – the more I wonder if converts are literally sitting on the edge of their seats. It would drive me nuts if I had to get a new stamp of approval or certification every week – yet that’s what these news reports are forcing converts and potential converts to do. It also screws with those who have already converted and dedicated their lives to being Jews by choice.

Don’t these rabbis and organizations who make such announcements realize that they are playing with people’s lives? I almost feel that all conversion boards and organizations should be run by converts themselves so they at least know what the people are going through. Maybe then they wouldn’t keep playing these convert games as I call them.

These convert games almost remind me of health advice from news TV, one day this is good and the next day it causes cancer and it never seems to stop.

Hat Tip failed messiah

{ 170 comments… add one }
  • Chavi February 15, 2011, 12:11 AM

    It’s much easier to let Jewish politics play out in the conversion arena. Converts-in-progress don’t have the standing or the resources to challenge corrupt, cruel, and/or ridiculous conversion regulations. It’s singling out the weakest members of our communities to practice power politics. Even worse, there is practically no one willing to risk their rabbinic neck to stand up for these people. (Though there are wonderful, notable exceptions!) If we challenge questionable/overly-stringent policies, we’re a) not dedicated enough to becoming Jewish, b) don’t understand the halacha, and/or c) are whiney.

    Before conversion, we’re essentially 3/5 of a Jewish person 🙂 With all the Jewish rights and power that idea conveys. A lot of people in the conversion world think that they’re “doing us a favor” by meeting with us/putting up with us, and therefore, we should be grateful for whatever bread crumbs of kindness we receive.

  • Yid Vicious February 15, 2011, 12:11 AM

    Excellent post, Heshy.

  • Malya February 15, 2011, 12:35 AM

    I have’t heard of this rash of mutiple conversions. Myhusband is a convert and so far he’s only converted once (my jewish guilt kicked in, making my mind race, did we not do it right?). As far as displaying your papers, I guess if you weren’t married it would be important to have but we have our Kitubah. I don’t think we have his conversion papers. All kidding aside we did spend months finding someone who would be highly unlikly to dispute. My husband was converted by Rabbi First in Chicago, I think we are safe. Good post though, lot of hurt to go around with conversions.

    • Ha_Safran February 15, 2011, 6:50 AM

      Speaking from experience, it would behoove you to contact Rabbi Fuerst and get a copy of your husband’s shtar to have handy. He is a wonderful individual and you should have no problem getting a copy from him.
      When we moved to Montreal, the school where we enrolled our children had a question on the application asking if either parent was a convert, and if so, to furnish a copy of the shtar to the school to “prove” they were legitimately Jewish. And this is a Modern Orthodox school, not a yeshivah.
      Luckily, I had a copy of my shtar and when the principal saw the names of the rabbis on it, he was duly impressed and never mentioned it again.
      Also, because my wife is a Baalah Teshuvah (besides my being a convert), at our wedding we asked the chashuveh rabbis to be eidim for the ketubah, rather than under the chuppah – specifically so, 20 yrs from now, if anyone wants to question my conversion or my wife’s background, we can point to the names on our ketubah and say “These rabbis looked into it and said it was fine. Are you going to argue with them?”
      As far as converting multiple times, I have done it, each of them Orthodox (all but the last done with the same set of rabbis – the last time, as above with the wedding, we got the most chashuveh rabbis we could to do it, so that yrs later, if there was a question, we could show the names on the shtar and solve those problems. And seeing how well it worked with the principal mentioned earlier, it was a good choice).

      • Geoff February 15, 2011, 9:47 AM

        This is a new one to me: why/how did you have multiple conversions with the SAME rabbis?

        • Ha_Safran February 15, 2011, 9:58 AM

          Long story short –
          #1 Initial conversion
          #2 Rabbanut realized later that one of people they regularly used as an eid was not actually a kosher eid, so they “re-did” all those conversions
          #3 When Rabbanut moved offices, they “lost” a filing cabinet with the documentation of some conversions. In order to create a new paper trail (actual shtars) they re-did those conversions they knew to be in that cabinet
          #4 Done with different rabbis.

          • Geoff February 15, 2011, 10:07 AM

            And that’s the short version?? Yikes. Yasher koach. Sounds like maybe you should arrange for some rabbis to just come with you to mikveh for erev Yom Kippur every year, “just in case.”

    • ish_elokim February 16, 2011, 3:16 PM

      funny, i learnt with his son in the mir

    • anonymous January 7, 2013, 10:46 PM

      Yes, Rabbi Fuerst is on the list of rabbinical courts for conversions recognized by the Chief Rabbis.


      Rabbi Shmuel Fuerst

  • Chavi February 15, 2011, 12:46 AM

    From personal experience and discussions with rabbis who sponsor converts, the most common estimate is that approximately 60% of orthodox converts have had at least one prior Jewish conversion. That number is about to increase substantially, but the new conversion “protocols” have only been in place for 3 years.

  • A. Nuran February 15, 2011, 1:01 AM

    And that’s if some black-hatted Neanderthal in Israel doesn’t decide to arbitrarily de-Jew you ten years later because he decides your lifestyle shows that you weren’t absolutely sincere. No appeal. No marriage. No legitimate children.

    • Mahla February 15, 2011, 8:24 AM

      They should not be able to de-Jew people who converted in any legitimate manner! That is just awful.

      • A. Nuran February 15, 2011, 1:32 PM

        Unfortunately, it’s what the situation has become there. Now there are other interesting requirements like proving that all of your ancestors for four generations were kosher Jews, properly married. Considering how much documentation, not to mention how many relatives, went “up the chimney” that’s only going to be possible for very, very few and the very, very wealthy.

        • fish November 23, 2013, 3:12 PM

          Er… Who is making up these rules? That’s most definitely not in the Talmud.

      • A. Nuran February 15, 2011, 1:34 PM

        Technically, and I’m sure the more knowledgeable will correct me, once you’re a Jew, you’re a Jew. It’s forbidden to remind you of your former status as a Gentile or retroactively throw you out. But there’s always a difference between the theory and the practice, especially when turf battles, factions and personal politics get involved.

      • Yankel February 16, 2011, 12:38 AM


        The problem is that new and improved definitions of “Legitimate” have recently been springing up all over, and while this might produce an “it’s all good” for some, those who actually care about authentic Jewish law rightfully see this as extremely dangerous.

        • A. Nuran February 18, 2011, 1:05 PM

          The other problem is that “authentic Jewish law” is a moving target. Charedism demands ever-more-stringent additions. And politics demands that they exercise their authority as far as they can push it. The “improvements” are along the lines of “Not only Torah but our rabbi’s customs and nobody else’s” and little extra-halachic innovations like deciding that a ger can be put in cherem on a whim or that Sephardic, Yemeni, Ethiopian, Central Asian and Mahgrebi minhag are treif and getting money and status for legally rat-farking gerim and non-Ashkenaz.

          • Yankel February 19, 2011, 9:55 AM

            More stringent additions – yes.
            Because of “chareidism” – no.

            Today’s situation demands that it be dealt with differently than it was in the past.

            Authentic law is only a moving target if you begin with sham Judaism. If you stick to traditional Halacha, and see how our predecessors have always done things – all the “moving” is only being done in order to get back to where we started from.

  • Julie February 15, 2011, 1:13 AM

    For real. Stop screwing with us, we’re only trying to help klal Yisrael in the first place.

    Further, some communities (like Ashkenazim) have a really shallow gene pool so you’d think somebody out there would approach this from a logical point of view and recognize that it’d be incredibly healthy to add some other genes to the mix. But that would require some scientific understanding, so maybe not.

    • batsheva February 15, 2011, 3:30 AM

      Amen, sister! I’m full-blown, 100% Ashkenazi, with great-grandparents who married 1st cousins on both my mother’s and father’s side (a ridiculously common old-world, Jewish practice), so I was thrilled to marry an English/German/French convert to throw a little chlorine in my gene pool.

      • Lirehagi February 15, 2011, 7:55 PM

        Hold it- 1 set of my great-grandparents were first cousins.Then one grandfather is a convert of German descent. What does that mean for me? No flipper babies, right?

        • batsheva February 15, 2011, 8:01 PM

          No flipper babies. LOL.

      • A. Nuran February 15, 2011, 11:24 PM

        I hear banjos…

        • Anonymous March 10, 2011, 6:00 PM


      • Yankel February 16, 2011, 12:43 AM

        Ever heard of dor yesharim?

        • Batsheva February 17, 2011, 8:45 AM

          I have heard of it Yankel, and I think it’s a great organization, but the scientific reality is that if Jews continue to limit themselves to other genetic Jews, eventually, Dor Yesharim won’t be able to help, because there will just be too few “safe” potential mates left to choose from. Also, they only screen for the common disorders. There are literally scores of rare genetic diseases that are not screened for. My rabbi’s sons have one. My rabbi has 5 daughters and 2 sons. Both his boys have an extremely rare genetic disorder (the gene must be carried by both parents) that causes blindness. Dor Yesharim doesn’t test for it.

          • A. Nuran February 18, 2011, 12:32 AM

            To see what happens when you don’t stir up the gene pool enough look at royal families or groups like the Amish and Icelanders. All of them paid a high price in reinforced bad mutations, mental retardation and other Bad Things. They say when one Amish person sneezes all the rest catch cold.

            There are services coming soon which will test for a couple hundred genetic defects. That should help. The real treatment would be a lot of gerim or intermarriages.

            • Yankel February 18, 2011, 1:38 AM

              Some of my relatives have had the custom of only marring close family, uncle, cousin, sister in law, etc..
              The Rabbi there put a stop to it after the 4th deaf child was born.

              Still, “resetting” the gene pool is not the solution.

              • Ha_Safran February 18, 2011, 6:45 AM

                “Resetting” the gene pool is A solution, not THE solution.

                So is fishing in the ocean once in a while, instead of only doing it in the backyard pond.

              • A. Nuran February 18, 2011, 1:13 PM

                What would you suggest? Infanticide when the number of children with severe birth defects rises above a certain point? Mass rape by the Mongol Horde and Chaka Zulu’s empai? The reduction of Jews to a sickly, stupid, horribly inbred relic?

                If you’re Askenazi you are the result of an admixture of 60-70% Iraqi (our original ethnicity) and 30-40% European including through the maternal line. The old lie about how it was all rape by Cossacks is just that, a self-serving falsehood. Our ancestors were more practical about this sort of thing than we were. That meant fewer barriers to becoming a Jew, not more. And it meant accepting the children of such marriages, not isolating them from the Racially Pure for three generations.

                It’s a real problem. Studying Talmud won’t solve it. Doubling down and trying even harder for reproductive isolation will just make it worse.

                • Yankel February 19, 2011, 10:26 AM

                  Well, Dor Yesharim does pick up on the vast majority of things. And new advanced methods are gonna be introduced soon.

            • Lirehagi February 18, 2011, 8:02 AM

              I have to agree from a genetic standpoint. I have a much better immune system than my friends and people have noted my family’s extraordinary good health. Them globetrotting ancestors had the right idea

              • A. Nuran February 18, 2011, 1:24 PM

                There’s a lot of truth to that. Heterozygocity leads to better health from infection resistance to oxygen transport to gross physical strength and more. What’s more it turns out our noses can recognize differences in the MHC – Major Histocompatibility Complex. We’re programmed to be attracted to partners whose profile is different than ours.

                In normal populations it isn’t that big a deal. In inbred groups like the Amish and Chassidim research shows a strong preference in spouses for the most different MHC profile available. But it can only go so far.

                It may be part of the reason for Frum Speed Dating and why shidduch teledating is doomed to failure. Six or seven dates is enough to get a decent whiff and decide if you’ve got a good chance at healthy kids. A TV screen won’t tell you that.

                • batsheva February 18, 2011, 2:59 PM

                  Fascinating, A. Nuran! I learn so much from your comments. This goes perfectly with what I’ve read and intuited through common sense on my own, but it’s nice to know there’ s research to back it up. I have only one regret regarding my marriage to a convert. I deeply regret taking his goyishe last name and giving it to our daughter. My original last name is the same as a very famous, very machmir rabbi. It’s one of the few names that is exclusively Jewish. Had I given that name to my daughter, she’d have a much easier time in the frum community (and I include MO) as an adult, I’d imagine. But my daughter is gorgeous and ridiculously healthy, smart, and talented. Other than name, I have no regrets about my marriage. It helps that I married an amazing, wonderful man who makes challah and chicken soup with matzo balls better than I do (and I’m good)!

                  • Al July 25, 2011, 11:30 PM

                    in the Commonwealth of Virginia, I (a non-lawyer) filed papers in the district court for a friend’s daughter to change her last name from her birth-certificate name, to her mom’s maiden name.

                    it’s legal, it’s simple after a very reasonable amount of reading up. The court clerks are quite friendly.

                    you can get books out of the library that walk you through the process.

                • Lirehagi February 19, 2011, 6:44 PM

                  Researched this in the 8th grade when my friends said I was crazy for claiming that the dudes I like give off a certain smell

                  and yes, I was/am the strongest in jewskool 🙂

                  this explains that CLASSIC couple (one blonde and blueeyed, one brown hair with brown eyes)!

                  THIS will be my conquering advantage when I shidduch-date: my 55%-65% goyish DNA!

                  Thanks nuran!

  • batsheva February 15, 2011, 4:57 AM

    This was definitely your best post yet, even though it wasn’t one of the funny ones. There is nothing funny about the way Orthodoxy treats converts. My husband converted long before I met him–not for any other woman either, but because he always felt he had a Jewish soul. He made the mistake of converting Conservative because even though he is 100% Shomer Shabbat and glatt kosher, he felt that women and men should be treated equally. I was raised conservative, and was far less observant than he when we met. I became more observant because of him. Unfortunately, when we moved to the community we are now in, our MO rabbi did his due diligence, and found out that one of the 3 male rabbis on my husband’s beit din drives to shul on Shabbat. So my husband had to undergo his second conversion. This would not bother me so much if our shul were truly Orthodox. There is an open parking lot, and all the members except us, the rabbi’s family, and three other families drive on Shabbat. My father, a lay chazzan, is often given the honor of acting as shaliach tzibur and gabbai, and he DRIVES to do it. But my husband who would never dream of riding, let alone driving, who has turned down rides from gentile neighbors in the pouring rain when they were going that way anyway, HE has to have a second conversion, complete with hatafat dam, in order to count in a minyan, let alone get an aliyah. To be perfectly honest, the only reason we haven’t gotten serious about moving to Israel is that I know he’d need a third conversion to be accepted. The thought of this, quite frankly, makes me want to puke.

  • Ed Greenberg February 15, 2011, 5:07 AM

    I used to be proud to be Jewish, and proud to be a supporter of Israel. With what I read in the Orthodox blogosphere these days, frankly I wonder why anybody would want to join up with us.

    • Heshy Fried February 15, 2011, 12:54 PM

      I find it even more interesting when I get emails from potential converts who say I did more for their path to Judaism than any of the sites like Aish or Chabad.

      • Geoff February 15, 2011, 1:01 PM

        Pretty crazy, yeah. I think the difference there is that while supposedly you’re satire (i.e., not real) and they’re supposedly as real as it gets, in many ways they’re showing the fantasy world, and you open a window into the real world that people live in. Pretty ironic, but I think that’s not far off.

      • Leah February 15, 2011, 4:18 PM

        I believe it – that you get letters from potential converts. You weren’t blogging when I was studying for my conversion, but I read Shabbot 6000 by William Levin every week and always found it insightful and inspiring.

        Kudos on addressing this topic – more people outside of the JBCosphere need to know how converts are really treated.

      • A. Nuran February 15, 2011, 11:26 PM

        That’s because you give it to them straight and aren’t trying to sell them anything. As I’ve said before, you’ve probably done more for Judaism and Jewish observance in your quiet unintentional way than any single kiruv rabbi.

        • A. Nuran February 18, 2011, 1:25 PM

          Or as my martial arts teacher’s teacher said to him “The truth is hard enough. Don’t give them bull***t.”

  • BH February 15, 2011, 6:25 AM

    My husband just converted for the first time this past weekend and his conversion was supervised/accepted by the Bet Din of Los Angeles- which is orthodox. We were told to keep his papers in our safety deposit box and though we are framing our ketubah, we will have a full size colored copy made to also keep at the bank.

    My favorite part of the ceremony was when my husband was about to get into the mikvah, one of the rabbis said to him, “you know, there are people who will be happy to die just to kill you and your family” and my husband was like, “you are telling me this NOW?” LOL!

  • Frumsatire Fan February 15, 2011, 6:27 AM

    Great post! I’m kind of resigned to it, there’s always going to be someone who doesn’t think your conversion (or your kitchen) is kosher enough. If only they were aware of the amount of pain they cause.
    Ever wondered what the Rambam would have to say about this? Find out here (longish but very good):

    • Geoff February 15, 2011, 12:54 PM

      I don’t see where this is tied to the Rambam. From what I see it’s an interesting and informative piece written by a current-day Rabbi who cites Shulchan Aruch.

      • Frumsatire Fan February 15, 2011, 1:29 PM

        Oops, sorry, wrong article, let me find the other one (although the one I linked is still pretty interesting).

  • Janet February 15, 2011, 6:59 AM

    Excellent post, and thoughtful comments! Yay!

  • Yankel February 15, 2011, 7:10 AM

    I don’t get what all this opposition is about. The Israeli government has always cooperated with Jewish law, and if someone was converted by a conservative or reform “Rabbi” it would say “Reform” or “Conservative” conversion in the tedudat zehut.

    Recently, the lines are being pushed more and more, and the Orthodox are gradually being pressured to consider more and more increasingly questionable conversions.

    Let’s get something straight. There are some very specific guidelines and rules as to what qualifies for a valid geirus according to Jewish law. I realize many out there are “Independent thinkers” and don’t feel they can be told what to do by some “Torah” or by some “Rabbis” , and that’s fine. But Jewish law remains what it is regardless of what anyone thinks, and you cannot expect anyone to change their religion all because it might make an innocent person “feel bad”.

    Given the widespread knowledge of the things many converts unfortunately go through, I think it’s the responsibility of every potential convert to do proper research into which geirus will be accepted by few some or all.

    If you choose to get it done by Rabbi Edgar Joe of Temple Emanuel because his requirements are much more liberal, then expect those who have perhaps more stringent requirements to have their reservations about your conversion.

    Yes it sucks to be messed around with regarding such sensitive issues, but as unfortunate as it is, Torah law can’t get changed because of that.

    If you’re looking to point a finger at anyone here, it’s those concieted selfish modern Rabbis who “don’t feel the need” to let their converts know that 80% of Orthodox Jews will not consider them Jewish, and that if they want an authentic conversion according to all opinions, they should go to a more accepted Beis Din.

    • Dan February 15, 2011, 2:15 PM

      Amen brother

    • Isak February 15, 2011, 3:46 PM

      “…it would say “Reform” or “Conservative” conversion in the tedudat zehut.”

      Actually, no, never did it say “Reform” or “Conservative” conversion in the teudat zehut. It simply said “Jewish” (or “Arab”, “Druze”, “Circassian” etc).

      Since 2005 , the teudat zehut no longer say anything about religion/ethnicity.

    • Chavi February 15, 2011, 4:10 PM

      I think that’s the perception, but not the reality. There were very few bad apples in the rabbis (and everyone except the poor convert knew it), but somewhat more bad apples in the conversion candidates. Standardization and keeping the sponsoring rabbi separate from the beit din all help to weed out those who aren’t sincere. However, the way things are going, I expect that it will relatively soon become required for a conversion candidate to vow not to have a TV or “unfiltered internet” in their homes. They’re already being required to vow as a condition of conversion that they will only send their children to yeshiva day schools for all 13 years of K-12, which means all new converts are limited to about a dozen cities in the US.

      • Yankel February 18, 2011, 3:42 AM

        Like I said elsewhere, we have many more problems in our community than we can handle at this point. We don’t need any more.

        Even if the convert himself will be fine, we will have to suffer the consequenses of his children forever after. I think we have the right to take some necessary measures.

        Think about it. In the times of the Beis Hamikdash, if a potential convert would have come forth and said “I want to convert, but my children will be sent back to my old religion” do you think they would have accepted him? No of course not. So it’s not so far off to see how some level of precautions are taken, even outside the frame of Halacha.

        • Ha_Safran February 18, 2011, 7:03 AM

          But you are supposing that 13 years of Yeshiva day school education guarantees every child stays “on the derech” which is preposterous.
          Especially when you take into account how many times in those 13 years those kids are going to hear from their teachers/classmates/peers about why they are “different” from everyone else in the room, just because they or their parents are converts.
          Maybe treating converts (& furthermore, every Jew) with respect and love, as the Torah commands us, would do more to ensure children stay “on the derech”?

          Also, I take issue with your opening statement – we should turn away people who, after sometimes YEARS of learning, have made the choice for themselves to follow the teachings of HKB’H and become Yidden, just because “we have many more problems in our community than we can handle at this point”?
          Following this thinking to its logical conclusion means no community should allow ANY person from outside its current population to enter – even other FFB Jews – because “who knows what problems they might be bringing with them? And we can’t even deal with the problems we already have.”
          That kind of insular thinking always works, right?

          • Yankel February 19, 2011, 11:00 AM

            Ok, too mant points here. I’m gonna take this one in breaks.

            “But you are supposing that 13 years of Yeshiva day school education guarantees every child stays “on the derech” which is preposterous.”

            True. That’s why I’m not supposing that. What I am saying is, the chances of a child being a functioning healthy Jew are very rocky if he/she is not sent to Yeshiva/BY.
            Guarantee – no.
            Improve likelihood drastically – absolutely.

            “Especially when you take into account how many times in those 13 years those kids are going to hear from their teachers/classmates/peers about why they are “different” from everyone else in the room, just because they or their parents are converts.”

            I don’t know where you get this from. It’s just not true. Even the frummiest of the frummies know to be sensitive with these topics. Especially a trained teacher in a classroom.

            “Maybe treating converts (& furthermore, every Jew) with respect and love, as the Torah commands us, would do more to ensure children stay “on the derech”?”

            Alas, I have nothing to say to this. You’re absolutely correct. I don’t know why we suck so badly in this area.

            Nevertheless, it would only take care of the children-related rules. Even if Ahavas Yiroel were not an issue, it would not help the sham conversions issue.

            “Also, I take issue with your opening statement – we should turn away people who, after sometimes YEARS of learning, have made the choice for themselves to follow the teachings of HKB’H and become Yidden, just because “we have many more problems in our community than we can handle at this point”?”

            No, but if he refuses to insure the proper Jewish upbringing of his children, we are kind of forced to making him wait until after his children are no longer an issue to convert him.

            “Following this thinking to its logical conclusion means no community should allow ANY person from outside its current population to enter – even other FFB Jews – because “who knows what problems they might be bringing with them? And we can’t even deal with the problems we already have.””

            Again, not because of an irrational “Who knows”, but rather due to a “probably” which we’ve unfortunately learned through experience.

            • Ha_Safran February 21, 2011, 8:52 AM

              “I don’t know where you get this from. It’s just not true. Even the frummiest of the frummies know to be sensitive with these topics. Especially a trained teacher in a classroom.”

              My dear Yankel, if only you knew. My comment comes from, not only my own experience, but the experience of a large number of converts with whom I am friends or know in one way or another. Almost every single convert I have encountered in my life, that spent time in day schools/yeshivas after their conversion, has encountered these issues. And yes, from classmates, peers & teachers.

              Whether or not the “frummiest of the frummies” know to be sensitive – reality doesn’t always follow theory.

              Please, PLEASE – do not wave away a comment made based on years of observation solely based on “what should be” – we all know it doesn’t work like that.

              • Al July 25, 2011, 11:39 PM


                if you were really such a holy roller concerned for the future of the tribe, you wouldn’t be here….. you’d be spending your spare time doing volunteer reserve duty at a checkpoint in Shomrom. Stopping suicide-vest bombers from getting near Jews.

                But you ain’t, so you aren’t.

                • Yankel July 26, 2011, 5:08 AM

                  Finally a good point.

                  Look, i never claimed to be holy, but the least I can do is recognize what is right and the will of Gd and what isn’t.

                  You picked a bad example though, since I’m not much of a Zionist. Learning would be more accurate.

    • Dena February 15, 2011, 4:44 PM

      My conversion is Non-Orthodox. I have always been VERY aware that neither I nor my children will be accepted by the Orthodox. I accept it, respect it and fully understand why that is the case. However I do think it’s unfair and downright CRUEL to rip away the Jewish identity of people who DID go the Orthodox route.

      • Yankel February 16, 2011, 6:30 AM

        “However I do think it’s unfair and downright CRUEL to rip away the Jewish identity of people who DID go the Orthodox route.”

        Even if they went the “Orthodox route” in an unorthodox manner, ie; in a manner which the Orthodox consider invalid….

        All because some guy calls himself “Orthodox” that doesn’t mean he actually is. Furthermore, the term “Orthodox” itself has no real inherent meaning. Up until recently there was only a religious Jew and a non-religious Jew. Religious always simply meant keeping to the laws as they are.

        In recent times, you have a phenominon where people don’t want to be ‘limited’ and ‘confined’ by the fanaticism of keeping to EVERY law, yet feel uncomfortable being labeled as “conservative” or “reform”. So they choose the best of both worlds. They call themselves “Orthodox” and try to keep the basic structure of traditional religious Judaism intact, but subtly (or not) choose to ignore the importance of the laws which don’t appeal to them, or which they deem not so necessary or relevant.

        So just like nobody can force these people to own up and just call themselves what they are, the Orthodox can’t be forced to adapt to a new set of laws for any reason.

        The only “cruelty” here, is when a “Rabbi” does a conversion without fully informing the convert of its future validity.

        • Chavi February 16, 2011, 3:14 PM

          You’ve totally missed the point. Unfortunately, that’s common.

          • Yankel February 17, 2011, 12:31 AM

            The point – its cruel to geirim.
            My point – Torah is not overridden for any reason.

            • S. February 17, 2011, 8:29 AM

              >The point – its cruel to geirim.
              My point – Torah is not overridden for any reason.

              Minhag oker halacha.
              Es laasos lashem.
              Lo bashamayim hi.
              Lo sasur – Afilu omrin lekha al yemin shehu semol (Rashi)

              The point is that you are saying a slogan which is only true except when it isn’t true.

              Secondly, all this assumes that you are correct and here we are discussing violating the Torah in sham conversions. I say that it’s just as plausible that these rabbonim are violating the Torah in their brazen disregard for halacha as has been practiced for many centuries. According to the Talmud a bes din of hedyotos can convert. The Talmud can even conceive of a case of a true convert who was never told about shabbos. Even if we can agree that we can do better than that, what we are talking about is a far cry from the Talmud’s standard. Furthermore, there is no such thing as de-certifying a convert. This is a newly created halacha. Fine, call it a takanna. After all, the rabbis can violate the Torah for the reasons I mentioned myself. But if so, if they are doing the right thing is then debatable. But to act as if all they are doing is following halacha, as opposed to creating it anew right under our noses? We’re not stupid. Furthermore, since this is not how conversions were done these newfangled modernishe heretical Conservative machmir rabbis are also explicitly being motzi laaz on the heilige rishonim who did not know of their make-it-up-as-they-go-along war on geirim.

              • Yankel February 18, 2011, 6:06 AM

                First of all, the exceptions you mentioned are all mandated by the Torah itself. When one does a melacha on Shabbos he’s not being “mechalel shabbos”. The Halacha is that he is supposed to.

                Secondly, none of the above reasons apply to the situation at hand.

                Your proof from the case the gemara gives doesn’t hold water. The gemara is discussing a person who accepted everything he knew about up until then. The fact that he wasn’t yet told about Shabbos doesn’t affect anything IF he accepts it as soon as he learns about it.

                If anything, the case is an argument against what you’re saying, since his conversion won’t be valid if he in fact does not accept shabbos when he learns about it. Not retroactively BECAUSE he’s not keeping Shabbos now, but rather because he has revealed what his true intentions were at the time of the conversion.

                One point I think you aren’t seeing, is that today’s situation cannot really be compared to those of the past. We have to sort of take the rules and apply them to our day, to a case which never really existed up until now.

                In the times of the rishonim, there was only one type of real Jew. The only other religious ‘group’ which had Jewish members were the karites, and no conversion done by them would be considered valid by any of the rishonim, not before the fact, not after, not during, regardless of the sincerety or dedication of the convert. He would have had to do another conversion, even if he had been “Jewish” for the last 60 years already, with a whole family and hundreds of einiklach.

                This whole mess began in the 18th century when Jews wanted to eat pork, chill with shiksas, drop the Kipa, and still call themselves “Jewish”.

                Since then, many groups within the Orthodox have adapted some degree of deviance from traditional Halacha, and that’s where these sketchy conversions come in.

                What we have today is a hangover from the haskala. It might take a while before the effects are done – if they ever do finish. But until then, the Jewish leaders are obligated and responsible to do everything they can to protect Klal Yisroel from losing its identity.

                • Geoff February 18, 2011, 6:36 AM

                  “But until then, the Jewish leaders are obligated and responsible to do everything they can to protect Klal Yisroel from losing its identity.”

                  At last I think we’re in agreement as to what’s going on. The issue driving these things isn’t as much what the halacha is, as what the rabbonim are trying to do within the acceptable range of halachic options. The operating theory, in response to the haskalah, has been that they need to keep people out and build walls of separation, so they can ensure maximum observance by those within the walls.

                  Fine, that’s one halachically permissible reaction by the rabbis. But then you can’t turn around and lament the fact that so many more people in “the Jewish world” are not recognized as Jewish and there’s less interest in Aliyah and there’s no achdus, as I often hear from Orthodox Jews who fail to see the irony of lamenting problems that this particular approach to the problem severely excacerbated. (I have NOT seen this kind of ignorance or hypocrisy in any of your posts. I think to the extent we differ, it’s mainly in hashkafic issues.)

                  • Yankel February 19, 2011, 1:18 PM

                    First of all, I’m all for achdus and Aliyah. I just don’t think we should get rid of everything else in order to have them.

                    Secondly, let me clarify what I was saying. This IS a halachic issue. When non-Jews are considered Jews there is a BIG halachic issue there. Not just there, but for all generations to come.

                    When I said “Hangover from the haskala” I meant the groups within Judaism who have their – excuse me – new and improved ways of “following halacha”, and who seeth at the idea of “some frummy radical chumra-obsessed ego-maniac elitists” who dare to disregard their way of thinking.

                    Solving the problem however, cannot possibly be done without going too far on one of the two sides. Either we shrug our shoulders at the fact that there might one day be a considerable amount of non-Jews among us, OR we ensure that we’re all Jewish, but in the process – make some innocent and real converts re-do their conversion. And perhaps the worst of all this that we’ll end up with some Jews who think they’re not Jewish.

        • fish November 23, 2013, 3:27 PM

          Whatever happened to good old fashioned Talmudic Judaism. The conversion requirements are explicitely spelled out here:


          Why are the so called “orthodox” adding additional requirements? What gives them the “right” to do that?

    • Mahla February 19, 2011, 10:56 AM

      Yankel, you bring up an interesting point. I wonder what percentage of Rabbis, across the whole spectrum of observance, let people know up-front exactly what % of the Jewish community will regard that conversion as valid.

      • batsheva February 19, 2011, 6:21 PM

        I know this is off-topic, but that reminds me of another frustrating issue, Mahla. Reform’s unilateral acceptance of patrilineal descent. I used to teach Hebrew school in a Reform congregation (I was not a member, just staff), and I had one particular student who was so Good. She was a straight A student in all subjects, but her passion was Hebrew and Judaics. She often talked about how she couldn’t wait until she could make Aliyah because she wanted to move to Israel so badly. The girl was 12 years old and studying for her bat mitzvah at the time, and no one had ever told her that in Israel she wouldn’t be considered Jewish. If Reform wants to accept Patrilineal descent unilaterally, that’s their business, but they owe it to their children to let them know how the rest of the Jews in the world will view them, just as rabbis owe it to their converts to let them know who will accept them and who won’t.

        • Geoff February 19, 2011, 7:38 PM

          So she found out and was surprised? Because she almost certainly is illegible for aliyah anyhow. The biggest worry from her perspective should be getting accepted by Reform/Progressive in Israel.

          But if a pro-forma conversion is necessary and would solve the problem, do you really think this particular student would have any trouble getting one? It’s not like she has to face an adult circumcision, even.

          • batsheva February 19, 2011, 7:56 PM

            This was about 8 or 9 years ago, and I’ve since lost touch with the family because we moved out of state, so I don’t know what ultimately happened. I’m actually thinking of calling the parents (two of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life, BTW), just to catch up. I’m very curious as to whether or not she actually converted. No, I’m sure there would have been no problem getting her a pro forma conversion. It would have had to be a Conservative conversion, since the Reform movement wouldn’t convert her on the grounds that they believe she was already Jewish, and to convert her would be invalidating their own belief. But I’m sure most Conservative rabbis would have no problem converting her. That wasn’t the issue. The problem was that she believed she was Jewish. She was told by her rabbi that she was Jewish. She had a bat mitzvah and leyned Torah in front of the congregation. She wanted to move to Israel and felt Jewish to her core. For her, to get a conversion would be a fundamental denial of who she is. I understand that to you and me, it would be the exact opposite–an affirmation of who she is. But from her perspective, in order to convert to something, you have to not be that thing in the first place. And she believed she was already Jewish. So how could she convert in good conscience? It would be a mockery in her mind. BTW, yes, at the time she was shocked. She actually started crying when I told her.

            • Geoff February 19, 2011, 8:15 PM

              “For her, to get a conversion would be a fundamental denial of who she is. I understand that to you and me, it would be the exact opposite–an affirmation of who she is….She actually started crying when I told her.”

              Ouch. Yes, that’s very sad. I can fully understand being opposed on those grounds. (Personally, I figure I’d come up with some excuse to be at the mikveh, like erev Yom Kippur, and “just happen” to have a beit din around to witness it, but I’m more pragmatic and less stubborn these days than when I was a teenager.)

              I’m reminded of the infamous geirus candidate who was fully frum but was refused because he believed the Lubavitcher Rebbe was Moshiach, just like he had been taught in his community. I’m not sure I disagree with the decision, but it’s hard to imagine how hard that was for him, and it’s not like he’s about to disavow something like that for a piece of paper, however much he wants it.

              • batsheva February 19, 2011, 8:36 PM

                Wow. Never heard of that case. Personally, I have less sympathy there. As far as I’m concerned I don’t think any of the “messianic” Lubavitchers are Jewish any more than a Jew who accepts Jesus as his savior is still Jewish. (This is where the difference between being an ethnic Jew, which obviously you can’t convert from, and being a religious Jew-regardless of degree of observance comes into play. Personally, I think an unobservant Reform Jew who doesn’t believe Mashiach has come is more Jewish than a Lubavitcher who does.) Judaism spells out pretty clearly that when Mashiach comes the lion will lie down with the lamb, no more war, etc. Given that none of this has happened yet, anyone who believes that Mashiach has come already is either deaf and blind with an IQ under 70, OR they believe in a religion other than Judaism. So really there’s no way anyone other than Messianic Lubavitchers could convert this guy, and they’d be converting him to their religion, which is clearly not Judaism.

      • ... March 10, 2011, 7:12 PM

        It seems to me that everybody is missing the point. When a person accepts the yoke of Torah, and accepts his role as a member of the Jewish people, he is Jewish in the eyes of hashem. (Your people = my people, your g-d=my g-d…um…hello? Anybody?) After that, I see nothing, nothing in Torah to suggest his status can ever be “undone” in the eyes of hashem. He may elect to undergo a second “conversion” to pacify man, or to show respect for the rabbi in his community, but I don’t see why it would change his status in any way (from a divine perspective).

        If you are a true convert, what does it matter if some token few violate Torah to be mean to you and “kill” you with words?

        I had one rabbi refer to me as a dead rat in a mikveh because he didn’t like the rabbi I’m studying under. But you know what, B”H, I have been lead where I am, and I am 100% willing to go to the ends of the earth to follow the divine plan for my life and to love his people with my whole heart. Yes, that includes when they despise me and I repay them with forgiveness and lovingkindness and pray (sincerely/humbly) for mercy for their souls on Yom Kippur. We are in this together. It is not up for me to decide if they mean well or not, so I play it safe and assume that they do, but pray for them anyway. (Would I ever join that R’s synagogue? Probably not. That increases the probability of unnecessarily provoking anger in either/both of us.)

        Does it hurt? Occasionally….but I try not to let it get to me because it would increase the damage to the world and hence amplify the sin (if applicable) of the other person. And I try not to bring up my status or put others in a position where they have to make a judgment call about whether to accept me or not, because it could lead them to sin.

        This isn’t Junior High all over again. This is life. I know where I stand. I know where my children will stand, B”H. Yes, we will face some misguided people in their lives…but who doesn’t?

        • Yankel March 11, 2011, 1:53 AM

          I think what you’re saying sums up the entire issue pretty accurately.

          You are looking at people who have accepted the Jews as their people, and the G-d of the Jews as their G-d, went through the “process”, and you see these insensitive Rabbis missing the point and refusing to consider these people Jewish because of some “technical paperwork”.

          You can’t see how details like “Was the Beis Din 100% kosher” and “Was there a kabolas Mitzvos which was 100% legit” can have any relevance or importance, in face of the infinitely more significant factors which make up the situation, namely the fact that there is an individual who has accepted upon himself to be a Jew and live like a Jew.

          What I have seen very commonly, is that people confuse the issue, and it really has nothing to do with the problem at hand.

          According to the laws of the Torah, which we MUST abide by and adhere to (that’s what being a Jew is all about, keeping the Mitzvos), the validity of a conversion is dependent on its halachic status, and NOT the sincerity of the individual.

          The harsh truth is, that even if someone lives as a good Jew for the last 40 years, keeping EVERY law, doing everything he can to live up to the ideals of the Torah, and thinking of himself as a Jew, if the conversion had been halachically invalid at the time of the conversion for whatever reason, he, plain and simply – is not Jewish.

          Yes it seems cruel and evil, yes one may wonder why in heavens G-d would allow this person to strive so much and make such efforts over so many years just to find out he was a Goy all this time, yes this might feel so horrible that the individual may never be capable of looking at a chumash again, yes this may leave him no desire to go do a proper conversion, but this is the harsh truth.

          As a human, I don’t claim to know G-d’s thoughts, and it’s possible that one’s service of G-d while technically not Jewish, is more precious to G-d than many full fledged Jews. But that’s not what the issue at hand is all about. Our business is the revealed law.

          Why do innocent and good people suffer?
          Why are people born with frightening disabilities?
          Why do stillborns happen?
          Why are innocent 5 year old children molested?
          Why does cerebral palsy exist?
          Why was there a holocaust?

          Why does G-d allow these horrors to happen?

          I don’t know. I don’t think anyone does.

          My job as a human/Jew is not to think. It’s to keep H-shem’s Torah. So while these questions sometimes bother my emotions, I don’t allow them to effect my actions and thoughts.

          There are specific rules about how one converts to Judaism. As insensitive as this may seem, they are where a conversion’s validity starts and ends.

          • fish November 23, 2013, 4:02 PM

            Who is the RCA, and what do they represent? Without the Temple and the Sanhedren Judaism does not exist as a centeralized cult. From the website:

            Who may serve as a Dayyan for Conversion on a Regional Beit Din:
            – Every Dayyan must be an Orthodox rabbi, with a semicha acceptable to the RCA.

            The line of classical semikhah which traces its line of authority back to Moses died out in the 4th or 5th century CE.

            So I ask again, who is the RCA? What is their claim to legitimacy when it comes to halachic interpretation of the talmud?

            I love the Jewish people with all my heart, and I hate to see them behaving like Takfiri. Lowest of the low.

            • Lemas Mitchell February 9, 2014, 3:05 AM

              Thank you for that information. Your comments have been very informative and have included a lot of nice links.

    • fish November 23, 2013, 3:23 PM

      I’m fairly sure that under old Jewish law any 3 pious Jews will do. They don’t even have to be Rabbi’s. Afterwards you can bicker over the meaning of “pious” but seriously folks, somebody somewhere is just making shit up.

  • Mahla February 15, 2011, 8:27 AM

    P.S. … Oh my goodness, that picture is just plain hilarious! ;^D

  • Chaviva February 15, 2011, 9:31 AM

    PREACH ON! Seriously. Preach.

  • Goyishe Punim February 15, 2011, 10:46 AM

    “Don’t these rabbis and organizations who make such announcements realize that they are playing with people’s lives?” They don’t care. The same people who accuse the movement through which I converted to be a bunch of “country club” Jews are the same who are acting like they are manning the rope line into the hottest club in town.

    This all used to bother me to no end – after all, many of us who convert feel like we are finally “coming home” and it’s hurtful that those we consider family to reject us. But then I consider the source, say a prayer that their hearts soften, and move on.

  • Leibel February 15, 2011, 11:10 AM

    Aside from generating more than one Chilul Hashem this does make one wonder how people can claim to be frum when they take such a serious mitzvah so lightly. These people wouldn’t dream of violating shabbat, committing adultery or eating a cheeseburger, but it’s okay to kick gairim around?

    On a practical note my reaction as a gair whose proud of having earned the right to be Jewish is that conversions are legitimate regardless of the political games some born Jews play. If they want violate the mitzvah of loving the gair let them, they’ll have to answer to Hashem for it, not me. And thankfully there are plenty of born Jews who take this mitzvah seriously.

    • Heshy Fried February 15, 2011, 12:57 PM

      But what will you do when your local bais yaakov rejects your kids?

    • Chavi February 15, 2011, 4:12 PM

      The thing is that conversion candidates aren’t “converts” yet, therefore, no mitzvah applies!

  • Dan February 15, 2011, 2:12 PM

    I agree. Organizations should stop making sham conversions and leave it to the REAL rabbis.

    We don’t need bogus judaism. If you don’t like the real thing, you can play whatever games you want, by why do you need to mess up these people?

    • Geoff February 15, 2011, 2:30 PM

      Sounds great, until someone even crazier comes along and invents even more chumras, calls themselves the REAL rabbis, and throws you out of the club. It’s neverending cycle of madness.

      • Dan February 15, 2011, 3:08 PM

        That is an odd thing to say. Nobody has ever case aspersions on a centrist orthodox conversion. The problem is the Reform, Conservative, and Avi Weiss types.

        You can’t exactly argue that they have stayed in the same position while we have invented chumras.

        • Chavi February 15, 2011, 4:17 PM

          Oh no…this is getting to be chareidi conversions only. A centrist orthodox rabbi’s conversion (unless he runs a beit din approved by Israel) is rejected just as quickly as one by Avi Weiss or the local reform rabbi. Chumrahs are the norm, as of the last three years of “standardization.”

          And it’s the “real” rabbis as you call them, the strict ones, who are effectively emotionally abusing people. In fact, being as “discouraging” as possible (regularly to the point of emotional cruelty) is considered to make your conversion less open to challenge. This means that being treated like a piece of dirt on the rabbi’s shoe means that the rabbi is now “doing his job,” as the Jewish community is demanding that he do.

          • Dena February 15, 2011, 4:45 PM

            I think I’m going to have to agree with Chavi.

            • Leibel February 15, 2011, 4:53 PM

              Same here, if only the most machmir standard is “good enough” then essentially gairim will have to reconvert everytime some person or group comes up with a more strict standard, which would be the Hareidi standard. There’s already a standard for geirus in halacha, that should be good enough for everyone. After someone converts it’s their business what humra’s they follow, what haskafah they have, etc.

              • batsheva February 15, 2011, 7:03 PM

                Exactly. My understanding (limited though it may be) is that conversion makes you equal to a born Jew, and a born Jew is a Jew regardless of his/her level of observance. Consequently, while it’s all well and good to demand observance upon conversion, if a year or two or ten down the line, the convert decides to become less observant, s/he does not become less Jewish any more than the born Jew becomes less Jewish in the same circumstance. Except now the Chareidim are making up new rules to say this is not the case. The particularly infuriating thing about this is that in an era when we are losing more Jews to intermarriage than we are gaining to birth, we should be more welcoming to converts, and instead are becoming less so. It’s beyond pathetic, and it’s becoming clear to me that at some point in the future, if this trend continues, the rip in Judaism will become as complete between Chareidim and Non-Chareidim as it is now between Jews and Christians. At that point, Klal Yisrael, as we currently understand the concept, will cease to exist.

                • A. Nuran February 15, 2011, 11:40 PM

                  Your understanding is the theory. The practice is crueler and more capricious. And if, a year or ten down the line, some black hat you’ve never met is on a power trip and decides that your level of observance then doesn’t match his Bucket O’ Chumrot now you’re no longer a Jew. Your marriage is not kosher. If you’re a woman you’re children are goyim.

                  Also, if you were born a Jew and the child and grandchild of Jews you can be denied Aliyah and have your Judaism rescinded. They can now require proof that all your ancestors to the fourth generation were undoubtedly Jewish and had kosher marriages backed up by ketubot or recorded by their approved list of rabbis going back decades.

                  How many of us can produce all fifteen of those marriage contracts?

                  • Batsheva February 17, 2011, 8:31 AM

                    Are you sure this is true? I was taught that Israel followed Hitler’s 1/4 Jewish rule for the Law of Return. That is, if you have one Jewish grandparent, you’re entitled to make aliyah under the law of return. Has that changed? Or are they now requiring that if you have that one Jewish grandparent you have to show his/her ketubah, and mother’s and grandmother’s ketubah in order to be able to make aliyah? If that’s the case, I guess they’ve decided they don’t want any more Jews in Israel. Although why they’d still be sending out shlichim if that’s their attitude is pretty hard to understand. I have no gentile ancestors of which I am aware, however, I know I could never produce any of my ancestors’ documentation. I wouldn’t even know where to begin to look for it. And I’ve asked my parents who are still living, and recently celebrated their 50th anniversary, where their ketubah is, and THEY have no idea where their OWN ketubah is, let alone any of their deceased parents or grandparents. I can’t imagine things would be that different for most other people. If Israel has really reached this point, it does seem clear that they are done with aliyah n0w, which is really a shame, since it’s something that I’ve always dreamed of doing.

                    • A. Nuran February 18, 2011, 1:28 PM

                      Looked into it when considering aliyah. I was lucky enough that my parents were well-documented. I was warned that I might have to collect up all those (long disappeared) ketubahs to prove I was a Jew.

                    • batsheva February 19, 2011, 6:26 PM

                      Well, according to the article that someone posted a link to on here, it sounds like a born Jew who couldn’t find any documentation would just have to undergo a Reform conversion to Judaism, show those papers, and then have no problem making Aliyah. Anybody care to comment on the inanity of THAT???

                    • anonymous January 7, 2013, 11:08 PM

                      @batsheva — a Reform conversion court would probably refuse to perform such a conversion, because they would consider you to already be Jewish.

          • fish November 23, 2013, 4:10 PM

            Our Rabbis taught: If at the present time a man desires to become a proselyte, he is to be addressed as follows: ‘What reason have you for desiring to become a proselyte; do you not know that Israel at the present time are persecuted and oppressed, despised, harassed and overcome by afflictions’? If he replies, ‘I know and yet am unworthy’, he is accepted forthwith, and is given instruction in some of the minor and some of the major commandments. He is informed of the sin [of the neglect of the commandments of] Gleanings, the Forgotten Sheaf, the Corner and the Poor Man’s Tithe. He is also told of the punishment for the transgression of the commandments. Furthermore, he is addressed thus: ‘Be it known to you that before you came to this condition, if you had eaten suet you would not have been punishable with kareth, if you had profaned the Sabbath you would not have been punishable with stoning; And as he is informed of the punishment for the transgression of the commandments, so is he informed of the reward granted for their fulfilment. He is told, ‘Be it known to you that the world to come was made only for the righteous, and that Israel at the present time are unable to bear either too much prosperity. or too much suffering’. He is not, however, to be persuaded or dissuaded too much.1 If he accepted, he is circumcised forthwith. Should any shreds3 which render the circumcision invalid remain, he is to be circumcised a second time. As soon as he is healed arrangements are made for his immediate ablution, when two learned men must stand by his side and acquaint him with some of the minor commandments and with some of the major ones. When he comes up after his ablution he is deemed to be an Israelite in all respects.

            In the case of a woman proselyte, women make her sit in the water up to her neck, while two learned men stand outside and give her instruction in some of the minor commandments and some of the major ones.

            That’s what the REAL Rabbi’s had to say on the matter.

        • A. Nuran February 15, 2011, 11:33 PM

          Not true at all. You’re under some serious misapprehensions here.

          Modern Orthodox conversions are routinely rejected by the Charedi-dominated officialdom in Israel. So are absolutely traditional Sephardic, Mizrahi and other conversions done in accordance with minhag and halacha. There are rabbis who routinely “de-Jew” Orthodox converts sometimes decades after the event. Why? Politics. Because they can. Because they believe that only their little cult is real Judaism. There’s even a move underway to say that no non-Charedi conversions will be permitted.

        • S. February 16, 2011, 4:37 PM

          >That is an odd thing to say. Nobody has ever case aspersions on a centrist orthodox conversion. The problem is the Reform, Conservative, and Avi Weiss type

          First of all, that’s entirely untrue. Is Rabbi Druckman an Avi Weiss type? No. Secondly, it makes no sense that there can only be a center and right wing of Orthodoxy.

          Thirdly, by definition there can be no real Orthodox consensus unless that means catering to the most right wing possible interpretation of Orthodoxy, something which clearly has not been the practice – ever. What if Satmar decides that if a woman converts and subsequently marries and refuses to wear a wig then she is not Jewish? Is this something that needs to be catered to? Or, how about this one: she converts, marries and wears a wig. A fine Orthodox Jewish woman, right? Wrong. The Chasam Sofer wrote in his Last Will and Testament, instructing the pious Jewish women of Pressburg to please, by God, do not wear wigs. So what if some right wing rabbis say that this sheitel wearing convert is really not Jewish? Where does it end? Why do we assume only Avi Weiss gets stiffed and not any other rabbi who is less frum than the Chasam Sofer?

          You can’t argue that they haven’t changed, because up until a year, two or three ago no rabbonim ever ruled a conversion invalid. Oh, except for Rabbi Goren, but of course the Chareidim pilloried him for it.

          • S. February 16, 2011, 10:20 PM

            > What if Satmar decides that if a woman converts and subsequently marries and refuses to wear a wig then she is not Jewish?

            Ack. I meant to say “shave her head.”

  • Isak February 15, 2011, 3:51 PM
  • Miri February 15, 2011, 8:41 PM

    People should be aware that Rabbi Avi Weiss reportedly does fast-track “conversions” for White gentile women engaged to rich Jewish men. Does the name Ivanka Trump ring a bell? The women who supposedly had an “Orthodox conversion” dresses like a stripper, isn’t kosher and violates the Sabbath regularly. She’s one of many but the most public. That is why I’m glad that Israel is not accepting this so-called Rabbi’s fraudulent “converisons.”
    On the other hand Israel is too harsh when it comes to authentic converts who really do you have Jewish souls. Unfortunately phony “converts” like Ivanka Trump and greedy, radical so-called Orthox Rabbis have messed it up for the real converts.

    • CompulsiveHandWasher February 16, 2011, 1:26 AM

      You’re thinking of Rabbi Haskel Lookstein in regards to Ivanka Trump.

    • Chaviva February 16, 2011, 2:15 PM

      Believe it or not … Ivanka’s conversion was more legit than a lot of the conversions that are performed out there. It was an RCA approved conversion through the Manhattan Beth Din, which is approved by the Israeli rabbinate, and she probably knows more than most of the people on this forum.

      • Miri February 17, 2011, 8:57 PM

        What you wrote means absoluely nothing. There’s nothing legit about Ivanka Trump’s “conversion.” It was a fast-track “conversion” just to marry Jared Kushner.
        The RCA is a joke and was bought off just like the rest of the so-called “Orthodox Rabbis” who were involved with this fraudulent conversion, both Lookstein and Weiss were involved in this scandal. I doubt the Israeli Rabbinate would approve of this so-called “conversion.”
        Don’t insult our intelligence. Everyone knows that Ivanka’s “conversion” was about as phony as they get. The girl dresses like hoochie, isn’t kosher and violates the Sabbath. Ivanka doesn’t even try to hide the fact that she’s a fraud.
        The only thing Ivanka Trump knows more about than people on this forum is plastic surgery and using money to get things most people can’t buy like an “Orthodox conversion.”

        • Arieh May 19, 2013, 9:02 PM

          Miri, I love it when people hold converts to standards they don’t hold other Jews to. It’s heartwarming to see how they are watched twice as closely and judged so harshly. Picking and choosing between what version of an orthodox smicha is good enough to allow a rabbi’s conversions to be recognized is EXACTLY what halacha demands of us, too. We should be as exclusive and judgemental as possible with our fellow Jews and thoughs wanna-bes.

          … maybe if I were a better person I wouldn’t engage in sarcasm like this.

  • A. Nuran February 16, 2011, 1:13 PM

    “Stop screwing with the converts already!”

    Yeah, who do you think you are, Rabbi Tropper?

  • Aliza T February 16, 2011, 5:51 PM

    This is so sad! The problem is that the ppl on the right decided they’re the “real Judaism” and now if you’re anything less they truly believe you’re not Jewish enough and didn’t accept the torah. Converting means accepting Torah and mitzvoth not every crazy chumra these so-called “rabbis” decide is the new rule

  • Yankel February 17, 2011, 12:56 AM

    I see everybody is very caught up with the “black hatters” who are “making up chumros” and demanding that this become the new standard.

    I’d like someone here to actually come forth with some factual Halacha, and explain what the chumros are, and what the raw halacha is, and how this is being played out in today’s situation.

    I am familiar with the issue, and it contains nothing which is being discussed above. The problems which many Rabbis have with some of the conversions out there are real problems, regardless of the sincerety of the convert. These are problems which are unfortunately not so new, and have existed in some form or another well into the past, and have been dealt with the same way as they’re being dealt with today. Specifically, by instructing the convert to do another conversion, this time legit.

    The difference is, that many of those who did a sketchy conversion the first time, have since moved to the left. Often far enough to the left that the Rabbis won’t allow them to convert at this point, just like a new potential convert.

    Hence “un-Jewing” them.

    • S. February 17, 2011, 8:43 AM

      >I’d like someone here to actually come forth with some factual Halacha, and explain what the chumros are, and what the raw halacha is, and how this is being played out in today’s situation.

      It’s very simple.

      1) Batei Din have NO jurisdiction over other Batei Din, and have no right whatsoever to overrule any other Bes Din.

      2) There is no such thing as retroactively revoking a conversion. Bediavad, all conversions are valid (fine, let’s say Orthodox conversions).

      3) Even if you want to say that we can invoke Rav Moshe’s ruling about the ger’s actions immediately after converting – which is debatable, and certainly the existence of dissenting opinions must be allowed – this hardly applies in many instances.

      4) Even if we were to agree that you can revoke a conversion – and we don’t agree – how can you do so without extensive drisha and chakira like what was done with Druckman’s converts, or the new one with the Avi Weiss affiliated one?

      5) A well known rabbi claimed that if a dayan wears a brown suit then he isn’t a real dayan, and therefore his conversions aren’t real. This is halacha?

      6) Rav Chaim Kanievsky ruled that if a convert is otherwise going to be perfectly frum, she just happens to believe the world is “millions” of years old, then lechatchila she cannot be converted, and he’s doubtful about after the face. This may be his baseline hashkafah, but for many many thousands of yarei shamayim, including their rabbis and poskim, this is just nonsense. How can the hashkafos of one community be applied broadly to the entire Jewish people? Does Satmar have a right, as I said above, to say that a convert who does not shave her head once married is now a gentile?

      7) The whole ruckus over Rabbi Goren that he had no right to violate halacha – precisely his position is now being adopted by his very same critics.

      8) The sword hanging over converts head – forever.

      9) The made up halacha that a convert has to send their kids to yeshiva for 13 years.

      What is going on is outrageous, scandalous ziyuf hatorah on the part of most right wing rabbonim and the centrists and even lefties who are allowing this to happen. They are being xenophobic and cruel and they are not following the nesivos shalom or the derech hayashar. The Gemara says that in the next world those who are seen as low in this world will be on top, and those on top in this one will be at the bottom. I see why.

      • Batsheva February 17, 2011, 8:48 AM

        Yasher koach!

      • Batsheva February 17, 2011, 9:11 AM

        One more thing. . .I was also taught that to remind a convert of his or her former state of non-Jewishness is a grievous sin. It can be embarrassing to them (I know it is to my husband), and I also learned that to embarrass someone is tantamount to killing them according to halacha. I believe this is the reason that it’s expressly forbidden to bring up a person’s conversion. This is all stuff I was taught in day school as a child, so perhaps I’m remembering it wrong, but it certainly seems to me that these rabbis, by making all these demands of converts, are in violation of these laws.

        • S. February 17, 2011, 9:16 AM

          It is.

          Look, I understand that rabbis feel that they have a responsibility to halacha, Jewish continuity and so forth, and they also feel the same difficulty anyone else does validating ideas and people that stray too far from their comfort zone. But this does not give the right to people with a comfort zone one millimeter around them to see people two inches apart from them as if they are a mile apart. Furthermore, it also doesn’t give them the right to be the sole decisors for all the Jewish people.

      • Yankel February 17, 2011, 12:19 PM

        1) Assuming the first beis din was legit, which they’re saying – is highly doubtful.

        2) Unless halachically the conversion was unlikely to have been valid the first time. For instance if it was done by a conservadox Rabbi.

        3) I’ll agree with you on this one, but you need to remember that much of this is based on the initial sketchy conversion. Even those who are “frum enough” but had a sketchy geirus are asked to re-do it. Besides, most of these cases were in regards to converts who changed some time after the conversion, not immediately after.

        4) This is a good point, but it’s quite understandable that a zero tolerance rule would be set up in the event of the whole system going haywire. They can’t go through every last individual, especially when sooner or later all of them will learn what to say and what not to.

        5) I’ll grant you that this is ridiculous, but if it is who I think is then there were some other significant issues as well.

        6) This is a real issue according to the vast majority of communities and poskim. Not just some tiny clan. (I think she meant to “dispute” that part of the Torah, and not just interpret it differently.)

        7) How can you compare the two?

        8) This truly sucks. But there has to be another way to solve it than just give free Jew passes to anyone who claims he “got ger’ed”.

        9) I don’t really know for sure what the reasoning for this was, although I think I have a pretty good idea.

        We don’t need more problems in our community. We really have far more than we can handle at this point. Experience has shown pretty clearly, that a disproportionate number of children who’s parents had previously secular lifestyles (BT’s and geirim) have a difficult time to say the least. This is often the result of parents wanting their children to “choose the right way” just like they did, and not “forcing” things on them.

        I don’t think this was ever meant to be viewed as a halacha. It’s just the way things are done today. Sort of like the “age 24 minimum” rule in many places.

        As a side point, nobody ever got de-Jewed because he didn’t send his kids to yeshiva for 13 years.

        As another side point, that gemara (Olam hafach ra’isi) has more peshatim then the Beis Yosef’s kasha.

        • Ha_Safran February 18, 2011, 7:35 AM

          Of course no one has been “de-Jewed” because they didn’t send their kids to yeshiva for 13 years – because it is a NEW CHUMRA. It wasn’t required in the past, but more and more it is being required NOW. And if you don’t agree to it, you don’t get “Jewed” in the first place.
          And your comment “[it’s not] halacha[, i]t’s just the way things are done today” may be the slipperiest slope in the history of slippery slopes. Requiring good looking prospective converts to “put out” before they are converted isn’t halacha either, but it WAS seemingly how things were done today (yes, only in one case we know of, but considering that was with the person who practically created the conversion standards we are currently living with, that means something).

          • Yankel February 19, 2011, 12:28 PM

            Look, I agree with you that in a normal situation, nothing should be taken into account other than the potential convert himself. But this is not a normal situation we have here. If the Rabbis don’t do something there will be some very serious issues down the line.

            You’re right it’s not reqired by halacha. But a Beis Din is obligated to use their common sense as well as their knowledge of halacha.

            In fact, this is not the first time limits are being put on conversions. In the times of Shlomo Hamelech there were absolutely no conversions allowed for a period of time.

      • fish November 23, 2013, 4:19 PM

        Points 1,2,5 and 9. Thankyou.

    • fish November 23, 2013, 4:16 PM

      No matter how badly a person behaves after a halachically conversion it can’t be undone. At the absolute worst they can be declared an apostate.

  • S. February 17, 2011, 9:13 AM

    By the way, as frustrating as this may sound, I would urge converts and potential converts who are not anonymous to be careful of just how critical they allow themselves to be online. As far as I can see, this is the reality. In my opinion the only way to prevent what they say and think being held against them in the future is if they voice their concerns, which are perfectly valid, without the possibility of standing in front a Beis Din holding a stack of print outs for them to explain. I’m sorry if that sounded Orwellian, but think of me more as Orwell calling it out.

    • Leibel February 18, 2011, 7:45 AM

      That’s a bad idea. If people want to violate the mitzvah of loving the gair it’s their problem, not the problem of gairim. To advocate being submissive and silent is a little like advocating people just give mobsters “protection money”. The problem is intolerant and humra pushing born Jews playing politics, if they want to sin let them and then let them answer to Hashem for it. I refuse to be intimidated by bigots who care more about their politics and humras than Hashems will.

    • fish November 23, 2013, 4:21 PM

      That sounds like defeat to me.

  • anonimo February 18, 2011, 4:12 AM

    I’m starting to think that Orthodox converts who observe the mitzvot should lie about ever being a goy in order to avoid charedi intolerance.

    • Rishona May 19, 2011, 1:39 PM

      Easier said than done; especially when you aren’t White 🙂

      • GerInTraining May 19, 2011, 1:53 PM

        You got that right! Fortunately, due to my beard and my preference for large velvet yarmulkes* (and possibly also the fact that I’m a dude and so potentially minyan-eligible in the Orthodox community), I can (and do) walk through Williamsburg and Boro Park in peace, though I do get looks from the kids on occasion.

        * Before I knew about all the hashqafic subtleties and implications of kippa styles and sizes, this was primarily because the larger ones stay on without clips (and my hair’s texture/length doesn’t mix well with the clips). And they’re soft!

      • Jason May 3, 2015, 12:26 PM

        Like your conversion status makes a difference…… I was born Jewish and still get interrogated when I venture into the Frum
        spheres, based on skin tone. At least we of different genes help to expand the DNA pool just a bit… De-stagnate the water….

  • Yael February 19, 2011, 3:01 PM

    You should do a post on converts who subsequently fall off the derech. I converted twice, it was extremely difficult, and even after a second conversion had a hard time fitting into the community and felt like I had to constantly be proving that I was Jewish enough. I am completely secular now, and in retrospect orthodox judaism really wasn’t for me but I often miss the community and wish that there was some middle ground where I could observe at a level that is comfortable for me. There is so much more expected of converts than there is expected of people who are born Jewish, and I think it causes a lot of people to either completely flip out and go all BT crazy (did that) or give up altogether.

    • batsheva February 19, 2011, 6:00 PM


      There is a middle ground. It’s pretty much any of the non-Orthodox movements. Go back and re-convert in the Conservative or Reform or Reconstructionist movement, and you will be welcomed and accepted in ways that you simply never will in the Orthodox community. Ironically, if you ever choose to move to Israel, you’ll be accepted there, as well! The whole de-Jewing and not allowing Aliyah thing may apply to Orthodox converts and even born Jews without sufficient documentation, but a convert with a non-Orthodox conversion certificate is unquestioned, thanks to the Israeli Supreme Court! How’s that for irony?

      • Rishona May 19, 2011, 1:41 PM

        I don’t think she would need to re-convert. There is no reason why a Reform or Conservative Rabbi wouldn’t accept an Orthodox conversion.

    • Leibel February 19, 2011, 9:18 PM

      Expecting gairim to be frummer than born Jews is ridiculous. The expectation of the Torah is for gairim to be as frum as born Jews, not more so. It would be nice for that standard to be applied rather than the made up standard that exists now.

      • anonimo February 20, 2011, 5:10 AM

        It’s ridiculous. I talked to an Israeli who calls herself Orthodox and told me that only Orthodox conversions are valid, and yet I’ve seen her flagrantly violate halacha, touching the opposite sex and singing in front of them. If she was a convert, she would be de-Jewed right away. She was a nice lady (who was kind of cute btw) so I didn’t tell her what I thought.

  • Zan February 20, 2011, 11:38 AM

    As a potential convert (was raised with some Judaism…it’s a long story) this is one thing I struggle with–trying to decide whether to convert Orthodox or Conservative…

    Anyhow, I thought that conversions outside of Israel were accepted for aliyah, it was just conversions within Israel that ran into trouble (as far as not being accepted by the rabbinate, etc)…is this not true?

    • batsheva February 20, 2011, 6:05 PM

      It’s more complicated than that, and frankly, utterly ridiculous. The Israeli Rabbinate has authority over all “Orthodox” conversions whether done in Israel or outside. So your Orthodox conversion in the U.S. may or may not be accepted by the Israeli rabbinate for the purpose of making aliyah. And you may or may not be considered a Jew by the Israeli Rabbinate. However, the Israeli Supreme Court (secular gov’t) has decided that Reform and Conservative conversions done outside Israel, are acceptable for the purposes of making aliyah, and the Israeli Rabbinate has no authority regarding Reform and Conserv conversions, since they simply don’t consider that to be Judaism. So a practicing Orthodox convert can be denied Aliyah on the grounds of lack of acceptance of his conversion, but a non-practicing Reform convert can’t be denied on that grounds. How’s that for insanity?
      Read this story for an example with background info:

  • Anonymous July 25, 2011, 8:13 PM

    Hey Zan,

    We should chat. Send me an email: HumanitiesGirl@gmail.com


    • Zan April 28, 2012, 3:38 PM

      Hi HG:
      Sorry to reply late, I didn’t check the box so I didn’t know of any responses! If you still want to chat, I still haven’t decided on the orthodox vs. conservative conversion …

  • anoymous October 14, 2011, 7:54 PM

    Well, I must say that I found this post in a “random” Google search. You hit the nail on the head. Converts do have a really difficult time, and lots of people in the Ortho world are making it worse all the time. I should know, I am a convert. There’s a humongous lack of understanding and empathy for what many of us go through, particularly as Jews of Color. There’s a lot of blame the victim when we’re treated with disrespect. Someone the other night even told me that it’s really me, and I have a lack of self esteem because I don’t like to go to certain frummy neighborhoods where people stare at me in shul, and make inappropriate comments and ask offensive, and even assur questions. And let’s not just blame the right-wing community! Members of the MO community as well as non-observant Jews are in the fray as well. I as well as other “different” Jews have had to step aside and collect ourselves to keep from breaking down in public, and sometimes you just cry. It’s really hurtful. When we look for support, everyone makes it about us and what WE’RE doing and/or not doing, or they just minimize the situation, and try to equate it to issues like being different in ways such as not “dressing the part”. ANYBODY can be ridiculed for that in the frum world, but when it is b/c you are a convert, it is personal. When it is b/c you’re Black, Latino, Asian or Native American, etc. it is even more personal. There’s so much ignorance out there.

    It’s especially difficult when you convert and then find yourself on really hard times. I really think that they should just start making blanket warnings to converts that if they’re not financially well off, they’re going to have a hard time. It’s true. If you’re dealing with personal problems, health issues, mental illness, whatever, you’re going to have problems. All these things get in the way of living up to the expected roles. The synagogues are
    very often located in expensive areas, and having to ‘live in the community’ is basically a requirement to have lots of money. I mean, nobody wants to be a burden on the community, but there is a not-so-subtle financial exclusivity going on that says if you want to be Jewish, you better have the cash. When you don’t, when you’re not successful and have degrees and/or a great job, people look at you. Everything is about, “What do you do?” or “Are you a student?” You need to be a model of the big-City-and-it’s-well-to-do-suburbs ideal. Let’s now add even more religious burdens to that by making you jump through hoops of fire, not once, but twice or more, and you’ll have to PAY, PAY, PAY!

    I was blindsided by my conversion rabbi right before my conversion with the fact that the beis din would be charging me well over $1,000 for the conversion, but not to worry, it was taken care of and I could pay it back whenever. Not long after the conversion the rabbi was all over me like a cheap suit demanding payment! A subtle extortion tactic if you ask me. And to top it off, after rumors that his conversions are not accepted in Israel, and that a number of his converts are or have been off the derech, he’s no longer doing conversions.

    The last thing we need is for “big shot” frum rabbis making it worse, and this exactly what they’re doing. When all is said and done, converting to Judaism was the biggest mistake of my life. I still love the religion, but I never expected to be going through all this hell. I wish I would have waited until later in life, when all of this mess was maybe not so much a big deal, and I could be settled in a more accepting community. (I find that many, if not most born Jews are clueless as to exactly how ignorant and even bigoted members of their own community can be.) If not for many Jews, and the prevailing American elitism, I’d be thrilled being Jewish. What a sad, sad state of affairs. :'(

    • Batsheva October 15, 2011, 9:26 PM

      I am so sorry you have to go through all that. I just wanted to say that before other people start in with snarky, insensitive comments. You deserve better. Being willing to choose to take on the mitzvot and all the strictures of Judaism means you deserve better. The converts I’ve known have been, for the most part, better Jews, and largely better people than most born Jews I’ve known. As a born Jew, I wish I could speak for all the born Jews when I say that I am really, deeply sorry for the way you’ve been treated. You deserve better.

      • anoymous October 16, 2011, 5:34 PM

        Thanks a lot. That means a lot to me. I’m really struggling to maintain my Jewish identity. I’m tired of the politics, I’m sick and tired of the, “Your conversion is invalid” crap. I just want to live in a like-minded community and be done with all the nonsense.

  • HG June 20, 2012, 12:23 PM


    I forgot to check the box, too!

    Send me an email sometime: HumanitiesGirl@gmail.com


  • fish November 23, 2013, 3:10 PM

    Orthodox conversion sounds a bit like trying to get a phD – only worse.

  • Munmun Nishi December 20, 2014, 12:09 AM

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