« Rebbe Saved NY Giants' Season, Fan, Rabbi, NY Times Say | Main | "High-Profile" Rabbis To Visit Rubashkin In Jail Tomorrow »

January 11, 2009


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Carole  Freund

Im not sure where you get your "facts", but I saw Fackenheim's wife pregnant with Joseph. It makes me wonder what else is made up here. Joseph is not adopted.


As far as I know, if he had been shomer mitzvos and accepted the Torah as being from Shamayim (G-d given) at any point after Bar Mitzvah then the conversion could not be overturned. It sounds to me as if the Rabbi asked the appropriate questions about this.

The conversion by a non-Orthodox Bais Din at age two would be meaningless, even if he had ended up keeping every mitzvah all of his life. The conversion by an Orthodox Bais Din means that all that would be required is acceptance at age 13.

One could argue that he did not know any better, since he was raised to think that Jewish feeling is sufficient. If that is so, then if he begins to keep Torah and Mitzvos now one could argue that his original conversion would be valid retroactively. However, if he does not, then that is an indication that he has never accepted the original conversion. Since that conversion was Orthodox it was by definition contingent on acceptance of Torah and Mitzvos when reaching the age of decision.


B"H As someone who had an orthodox conversion here in Israel and leads an observant lifestyle, nevertheless I am deeply concerned about the implications of this and the Ashdod decision. It is VERY difficult to prove beyond all doubt that the conversion was not sincere AT THE TIME: all the more so when it was an infant involved! Once you are Jewish, you are Jewish period. Nothing can take away your Jewish soul, given by Hashem. If you choose not to keep halacha, or keep only some of it, that is your responsibility and the matter lies between you and Hashem. No-one can take away the Jewishness of a convert, any more than one can retroactively decide that a born Jew is no longer Jewish because he or she does not lead an observant lifestyle. I don't pretend to have the deep halachic knowledge of this particular Beit Din, but it seems they are treading a deeply dangerous path. Time and again in the Torah we are told to love converts, and it goes right against the Torah to humiliate a convert or even to remind him or her that they converted.

Yochanan Lavie

On the contrary, to quote Shakespeare's Caesar: "I am as constant as the North [star]." AKA Polaris.

Rachel Batya

Mercurial, aren't you?

Yochanan Lavie

I'm afraid this is getting Borealis.

Rachel Batya

I'm hesitant to wade in here. I wouldn't want to polar-ice the situation any further.



Yochanan Lavie

Maybe Rachel Batya can do a better pun; Alask- her.


I just spent the last hour trying to come up with a pun for Tlingit or Athabascan, but I could bear it no longer, it snow use, YL wins, juneau what I mean?

Yochanan Lavie

I hope you all enjoyed my Inuit-icism.

Yochanan Lavie

If he's an Eskimo, he can participate in the "Aleut to Israel" parade in NYC.


...because after all, the Eskimos are the remnants of the 10 lost tribes and are the real Jews...


Jason: thanks for your reply. As it happens I am now a dual-national born American-right-of-return-Israeli -- the Interior Ministry in Israel at the time accepted by (secular) bonafides as a Jew without question (I think I may have had to attest to Jewish status or get a paper from a rabbi but don't remember--my grandparents were from the Pale)

Paul, in that case, you have reason to be concerned.

Paul Freedman

Yochanan: ty. I know there are profound issues within "who-is-a-Jew" but, hey, if you dip the baby's little finger in the fermented brew, wrap him in the polar bear hide, have the matriarch smear his little cheeks with whale blubber, and call him an Eskimo, let him stay an Eskimo...

Yochanan Lavie

Paul: Very funny.

Paul Freedman

I dunno, some of these rabbis seem more like the Soup Nazis:

"No Jew for you!!!"

Yochanan Lavie

Of course, not all mohelim do MBP. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Paul Freedman

but seriously, I would never have passed the mid-terms, let alone the pop quizzes...

Paul Freedman


I think MBpeh is a twofer-afterwards you also get to be a Catholic

I kid!

Yochanan Lavie

Paul, IMO, some of these rabbis are beyond the Pale.

Paul Freedman

Jason: thanks for your reply. As it happens I am now a dual-national born American-right-of-return-Israeli -- the Interior Ministry in Israel at the time accepted by (secular) bonafides as a Jew without question (I think I may have had to attest to Jewish status or get a paper from a rabbi but don't remember--my grandparents were from the Pale) -- but the United States State Department did subsequently raise the issue as to whether my dual citizenship and service in the IDF constituted renunciation of American citizenship--but it turned out the law was that, yes, precisely because *I was a BORN American* it was presumed I remained an American citizen unless I specifically and explicitly signed off on a declaration of renunciation...so I remain an American.


I wish I could find a version that would state the English enunciation for the Hebrew, side by side. I'm sure its out there, somewhere.

ArtScroll makes a prayer book and a book of Psalms like this, but the pronunciation will be a very yeshivish Ashkenazi Hebrew.

Yochanan Lavie

Tehiya: I agree. Israel is too important to leave to the Israelis ;-) It's our common patrimony, and God forbid, our refuge of last resort (or first resort, if times are good and we desire to move there).

JAG: I have a friend who was in a similar situation. They take a few drops of blood from the circumcision area as a ceremonial brit milah. It's less painful than the full monty, I imagine. And let's hope they don't do metzizah b'peh (LOL).


Those "couple of scenarios" you mention are far from trivial or uncommon! To say that your Jewish status is fine as long as you don't live in or marry in Israel is kind of like saying that your heart pumps perfectly well as long as you don't try to stand up. Being able to return as a citizen to Israel, to marry in Israel, or to have a halachically recognized marriage in hutz l'aretz are core elements of being Jewish. And this is all currently being threatened by the haredi establishment. There's no doubt that they're moving in the direction of disenfranchising any Jew who can't prove his or her Jewishness according to their standards. And that's all of us, unless you're haredi. I grew up Jewish, but what proof do I have of it? There's no registry for it, the Reform Temple we went to when I was a kid wouldn't help prove a thing, and the testimony of any and all of my relatives would all be meaningless, since none of them are Shomer Shabbes. I could never get married under this system. I don't want a secular wedding, and without being able to prove my Jewishness, I can't get a Jewish one. I mentioned this a haredi rabbi in Israel a few months ago, and he sighed and said that was just the price we had to pay to prevent mistakes (ie, a Jew unwittingly marrying someone who isn't halachically Jewish but says they are). I was shocked to hear him say this, but despite the fact that it forces Jews to forgo Jewish marriage and "live in sin" he was convinced that it was worth the price.

Just a Goy

(Archie, please read the following, and the linked article, regarding your assertions towards Shmarya)

Michelle Nevada,

Thank you... Thank you for your reference to the article, 'Conversion to Judaism: Halakha, Hashkafa, and Historic Challenge' By Rabbi Marc D. Angel.

Yes, it was a very long analysis, yet amazingly enlightening, detailed, supportive, most definitely worth the read; complete with history, specific sightings, explanations, foundations, references, while expressing deep concerns, sighting seeming unwarranted ramifications through haredi interpretations / mandates.

Today we find the [haredi-controlled state] Jerusalem rabbinical court makes interpretations, yielding new proselytizing Sharuriit Hmsa'ira, which are unquestionable and unchallenable. Sadly, they also manage to berate / undermine Rabbi's throughout the world, referring to them as criminals, those who's interpretation does not meet their exacting standards, even though they were only following the Torah.

A basic description of the conversion processes may be found found in Yebamot 47a-b. where one will find obvious contradictions / conflicts between haredi and Torah - Leading to debilitating destabilization of convert's lives, no matter how devout a person may be, given the haredi's strict guidelines / interpretation - They may always manage to find some fault with converts, needing little to overturn and reject, leaving many to live in fear, always questioning the Jewishness.

All this presents a personal challenge - As their assertions impact my personal quest. Yet I know what the Torah's teachings say, running counter to much of their interpretation / actions / mandates. This deeply troubles me, knowing full well, I will be subjected to their terms until there is a change.

Consider, Professors Avi Sagi and Zvi Zohar, in their study of halakhic literature relating to conversion, suggested that the first halakhic authority to equate conversion with total commitment to observe mitzvoth was Rabbi Yitzchak Schmelkes - and this was not until 1876 - This, the defining moment relevant to today's enforcement.

I would highly recommend all concerned, read the article, which I have made into a TinyURL: http://tinyurl.com/7pjpl7

As for me, my intent is to become ger tzedek.

I am already circumcised (done so as an infant, although no bris, wondering how this impacts me), no present intent on marriage, nor am I dating a Jew (my heart is true, no other ulterior motives).

I'm presently studying the Torah and will eventually reach for the English Talmud (1918), and other English Sacred Texts, in my studies. My primary Torah source is the English Hebrew v (JPS 1917), as my hope it will encourage language acquisition, yet I wish I could find a version that would state the English enunciation for the Hebrew, side by side. I'm sure its out there, somewhere.


Paul, I do think there is a difference between standards for converts into Judaism and for people born Jewish. Archie's analogy with citizenship is useful as shorthand. Actions that won't get you bounced from the religion if you're born into it may indeed disqualify you for membership if you were not born into it. But, once the decision is made to admit someone, there needs to be some finality to that decision.

Even though these decisions on conversion and retroactive disqualification are troubling and can lead down a slippery slope towards your question of annulling the status of born-Jews (especially those without "proof" of their Jewishness), as a practical matter such an annulment would only happen in a couple of scenarios, namely marriage in Israel (or to an Orthodox Jew) or aliyah to Israel. Outside of those scenarios, the Charedi gatekeepers have no authority to determine your status as a Jew, nor would any determination they may make have any practical impact.

Still, given the possible implications for aliyah and marriage, this behavior is troubling to say the least.


Thanks, Archie.

I won't bother you with childish questions anymore. I just want to understand your perspective better so knowing you are married with children helps. I just hope you aren't wasting too much time on FM when you could be with that wonderful blessing that is family.

Paul Freedman

and yet I remain "Jewish" by birth notwithstanding that I am secular and non-observant, no? By the standards of these very same rabbis, hypothetically, if we assume that my parents, grandparents, great grandparents etc. are known to be Jewish (and my forebears are assumed to be Jewish beyond that) would the rabbis move to annul my status? For the orthodox guardians does acceptance into the Jewish family need to be stringently based on halachic norms that are stricter than the requirements of Jews born of two Jewish parents to continue? You would think that logically the decision has to be taken to deprive me and other secular Jews of any halachic status as Jews for any purpose.


I'm here for you anytime Yochanan.

Yochanan Lavie

Jason: Thanks for being my shining knight. I think Litvaks don't make a huge distinction between davening and learning, since they're both seen as forms of worship.



1. OK. There were posts in the past to that effect but I'll be happy to allow you (and me) to do teshuva.

2. Hey, we're older, like in the Elie Wiesel play, we're supposed to start speaking Yiddish and talking about the old country. But let's both be honest, we both know very well that yeshivish one-upmanship is an important part of the Litvish game :) Besides, my parents and surviving uncles and aunts were there, and my generation of rebeiim were there (in fact, this past Shabbat we had a guest, an Israeli Rosh Kolel originally from Radun, who said there was definitely electricity in the yeshiva).

3. I was only quoting what you said, you used the phrase "making a leining on Mishna Berura", and if you hung around Briskers you know they would have hassled you before you even finished that sentence.

4. Jason already replied to this, at least have the decency to stand with your original statements, I spent my life among warring camps (chassidish, litvish, zionistish) that could disagree in a learned manner, I don't mind seriously disagreeing with you and citing mekoros but I suspect you don't stick with your own arguments and will now hunt down a Shela to "prove me wrong", although this would be the archetypical shelo lishma, I'm happy to at least caused you to learn something :)
Anyway, you haven't cited a source for that Nodah B'Yehuda story, and I'm an einikel...


Archie, I think some confusion over the shuckling issue came about because you responded to Yochanan's comment which was about shuckling in davening. If your comment was directed at shuckling while learning, then it was non-responsive to YL's original comment.

YL: some k'tan said a Russian oleh had to undergo gerut l'chumrah because he didn't shuckle during davening, and didn't like chulent. I am not making it up.

Archie: As far as shuckling, we know for eons that the Jew is compelled by his spiritual components to shuckle. Great rabbis of eras past have said not shuckling is a givaway. A non-Jew who mastered the Talmud once came to the Noda Bihudah who saw right through him. The people who tried setting him up were shocked.

Archie Bunker

For the record I am not divorced or otherwise single.

And because ML is acting like a child trying to bait and distract me I will try to refrain answering any of his childish posts in the future no matter what the provocation.

Archie Bunker

Maven, please. You're playing word games now like the others.

1 a. Stop misrepresenting me as "anti-Sfardi"

b. According to a Halabi friend, most Syrian Sfardim are from elsewhere in Syria. Their numbers in Aleppo were almost non-existant.

2. Sigh. My point that was clearly stated was regarding the LEVEL of Hebrew in MB. I think you keep arguing about an abstract topic because you want to show off your knowledge of what purportedly went on in the old country.

4. The example I cited to begin with was shuckling during learning, NOT davening. And please allow for some time that I may look up the SHaloh.


Well at least Archie finally came clean about having children.

So the picture is becoming a little clearer now. Archie is a divorced father who spends most of his time bitterly trying to be Shamarya's nemesis.

I'll admit, it's fun feeding the fish from time to time.

Yochanan Lavie

Maven: FYI, I knew an Iraqi Jew with a Spanish last name. As you know, Spanish-Portuguese were all over the place. Shneur is a corruption of Senior, Mendel of Mendez, and Shprintze of Esperanza. I guess Moshiach is an ST.


1. So you are only anti Ladino speaking Sepharadim, not Edut Hamizrach? Anyway, you are incorrect, there are many Samekh Tet families among the Halabi community, much as there were also "pre-gerush" families among the Turkish Jews. Oddly, according to your views, it is well documented by Hacker and others that the arrival of the Sepharadim to these communities led to a big jump in Torah study, etc.
2. I mentioned the MB story because you stated that a minimum requirement for entry to the yeshiva world was "making a leining in Mishna Berura", which would sound absurd to people who spent time in real Yeshivot.
3. I can only speak for myself. I can't read all your posts, it would take all day, but if you properly cited the Maharal, I wouldn't have critiqued you.
4. So you don't have a source for your statement about shuckling during davening? Good. We'll have to start calling you out from now on when you make statements that aren't lav davka correct. Mussar time.

Archie Bunker

Maven, you and other readers still don't get it. I am opposed to corruption. I believe that the Rabbanut, like other govt entities is anyway corrupt, and if they are disqualifying ANY adoptee regardless of which family is raising him, it sounds like politics to me.

I'm also tired of you yoyos misconstruing anything I say about Blacks and now Sfardim as "racist". And get your facts straight. The word is spelled pejorative without the double R and Halabim from Aleppo are not Sfardim, they are Edut Hamizrach.

Again, you argument about MB has nothing to do with what I said originally but as far as the unconnected point you raise, I have seen the gamut of Alter Litvaks, Mirrers, Kaminetzers, Kletzkers, Telzers and Novardhokers not acting the way you described. If they were correct in Chevron I guess people lose their inhibition in America.

"you've said similar things that would have had the Rishonim and the Maharal gasping in astonishment"

Whatever I said had another shita backing me up. And it's funny you mention the Maharal as at least once when I tried using his kesovim to explain something, I was attacked and mocked by Shmarya's groupies.

As far as the Shaloh hakodosh, I will try to look it up but you say it's in inyanei tefilah. The maaseh rav that I know of is shuckling in learning which is lav davka a steerah.


So Mr. Bunker:

1. You don't know they'd disqualify religious gerim from frum families who converted through R. Druckman's beit din? Well, good morning. Perhaps you should reread the statements. All conversions, according to Shirman and friends, are invalid, from that beit din. Doesn't matter how religious the converts are (and most of them are and went to R. Druckman with totally good intentions).
The comment about the Shela Hakadosh in Aleppo is what is known in most circles as a joke. Since you have frequently made perjorative comments about Sepharadim, I figured that joke was appropriate.
So you don't know the reference in the Shela? And if I told you it was in Inyonei Tefila in chelek aleph daf ayin tet you'd actually look it up and be modeh?
If you don't know about Mishneh Brurah under the shtender in the yeshiva world of Lita I don't know where you went to yeshiva, but my Ramim from Chevron used to joke about that all the time.
The "cohesiveness" of my argument is that following your frequent emails I get the feeling that you think that by holding the most extreme absurd views (let me guess, I'm a kofer if I think Og being forty feet tall and hanging on to the tevas noach is a metaphor, you've said similar things that would have had the Rishonim and the Maharal gasping in astonishment) that will cover for the fact that often you say things that are not something a learned person would say.
And then when someone disagrees with you, you say "bring a source". So show me a valid source (not some artscroll storybook or the like from an English source) that says shuckling is a sign of a Jewish neshoma. I think that's why you like posting here so much, you get this gaavadik feeling that you are a representative of Daas Torah, which is probably not reflective of your real life.


so when emil fackheim's former daughter in law wants to remarry how many people want to bet that the rabbinate wont let her because she was married to a jew and doesnt have a get?

You cant be strict on both sides- not granting the get because of fear that one party isnt Jewish and then not letting one party remarry because they're still halakhically married. but this is the kind of haphazard justice the rabbanut is inches away from applying. Will this woman's children from a future not be allowed to marry jews because theyre mamzerim because their mother was never divorced? With the rabbanut's strict standards of producing paperwork I wouldnt be surprised if this were the case. Here, the couple got a get- but that was because they raised a protest and wanted the get. they could have easily just gone on with their lives and the case would next be heard when the former wife or her future kids encountered the rabbinate again.

I think all these grossly strict reviews of who is a jew are an unprecedented abuse of halakha. But cases like this just point to the hypocrisy: its damned if you do and damned if you dont. And thats no system of justice.

Yochanan Lavie

AB: Thanks for clarifying.

Archie Bunker

"Maven" paints a very incriminating picture without first allowing for any explanation.

I don't know that the Israeli rabbinate would disqualify Druckman associated adoptions by religious families.

When there is a question of a non-religious family raising an improper convert, there are important things that are prioritized ahead of emotions like making sure that a non-Jew does not intermarry.

Why would I have a problem with the Shaloh hakodosh in Aleppo? Your indictments of people are just ridiculous. And please cite the location of the shuckling issue in his kesovim.

I don't quite follow your "logic" about MB in the alta heim. It's true that some seforim like Kovetz shiurim were regarded as crib notes but everyone was interested in knowing what the Chofetz Chaim's shitos were even if not mittin seder.

All this also has nothing to do with the point I was trying to make which is the level of Hebrew in Mishna Brurah which SHmarya evidently has not mastered. Besides, even if you are correct, yeshiva leit are expected to know piskei MB from perusing it during their spare time or at least being able to look up the din when in a pinch.

Please feel free to raise any more concerns when they are cohesive.

Archie Bunker

It's too bad that Neo-preservative always has to be such a sourpuss looking to lash out at Jewish tradition and texts. It must make him feel good everytime he has one of his bitter outbursts.

There is no fairy tale surrounding Jewish souls. People like Neo are in for a big surprise when they are confronted with the truth in the next world.

The ABCs of Jewish souls are metaphysical. Neo thinks he can laugh it off like a petulant child.

Archie Bunker

Yochanan, you and others misunderstood what I wrote. I did not mean that once someone is responsible for putting a child in this world that they bear no responsibility.

I meant that the Torah has a system of punishing people guilty of severe sins of adding to their retribution.

For instance, when someone misbehaves with a goya, the Torah creates an issur niddah out of thin air. Similarly here, the Torah acts to deny the "nachas" as it were of any connection to the offspring.

Yochanan Lavie

"or perhaps in your strange neo-frum world the Shla Hakodosh was inferior because he was a Rav in Aleppo for a while)."

Better Aleppo than a schleppo.


Archie, the reason I figured you must be childless is your absolute lack of sympathy for families. The idea that its OK that sincere converts have to live their lives in fear that after years of going to Jewish schools, living Jewish lives, etc, they or their parents are going to be told that their giyyur is retroactively voided is somehow OK can only be thought by a person who has no family whom they love. And this is where the neo-lithuanian world is pushing things to advance their political position. I know many yeshiva and kolel students of dati leumi yeshivot who went to R. Druckman's beit din for adoptions or who married converts through that system who were living in Yesha, etc, and are now cringing in fear that suddenly their families will be destroyed because of this noveau "daas torah".

Anyway, I used to think you were learned but now I see you are a phony based on your statements on shuckling. If you think that not shuckling is inferior, then you think the Shla, who urged standing entirely still, was inferior (or perhaps in your strange neo-frum world the Shla Hakodosh was inferior because he was a Rav in Aleppo for a while).

Also, the idea of "making a leining in Mishnah Brurah", when in most yeshivos in Europe the MB when read was hidden under the shtender from embarrassement, makes me wonder what your true status really is.


"I also understand the need for correct procedures, in any facet of life, including gerut. Emotionally, I accept all converts, but philosophically I know there has to be an agreed upon standard. I am afraid that poltical/religious motivation has moved the bar so high that almost no one can reach it; which is a shame if there are other possible acceptable interpretations. It would seem for the sake of achdut, ahavayt yisrael, and darchei noam, that the rabbis should be more maikel, and then be mekarav all Jews- whether by choice or by birth. Harshness just drives people away; including born Jews."

Indeed, we are taught exactly that by the story of how differently Hillel and Shamai receive the potential converts:

The gentile came before Shammai and requested, 'Convert me on condition that you teach me the entire Torah while I stand on one foot.' He [Shammai] pushed him out with the ruler in his hand. He then came before Hillel, who converted him. Hillel addressed to him the immortal words, 'That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the entire Torah; the rest is commentary. Go and learn.'" Afterwards, the successful convert declared in the presence of Hillel and Shammai that it was Hillel who had been his salvation.

Yochanan Lavie

Logic problem solved, as long as you enjoy fairy tales.

Posted by: Neo-Conservaguy | January 12, 2009 at 04:11 PM

Uh-oh, here comes the Gay issue again (LOL).

Yochanan Lavie

I didn't see much shuckling in the Breuer's shul (Klall Adath Jeshurun). I think it's an eastern european thing- although it's a nice minhag. Kinesthetic involvement intensifies the tefillah, IMO.


As for the concept of converts receiving a "Jewish Soul", it's nothing more than rabbinic midrash designed to answer a logic flaw with the idea of all Jewish people being at Har Sinai. If all Jews were there, how do we explain converts? Crafted answer: create the concept of Jewish souls, which were out-of-body when at Sinai, and then can "merge" with later converts. Logic problem solved, as long as you enjoy fairy tales.

Yochanan Lavie

Archie: I didn't mean to be offensive in the previous comment. I was referring to certain chareidi and chassidic communities, not all of orthodoxy. And if roshei yeshiva are encouraging bochurim to gain the skill sets they need to earn a parnassah, more power to 'em.

I also understand the need for correct procedures, in any facet of life, including gerut. Emotionally, I accept all converts, but philosophically I know there has to be an agreed upon standard. I am afraid that poltical/religious motivation has moved the bar so high that almost no one can reach it; which is a shame if there are other possible acceptable interpretations. It would seem for the sake of achdut, ahavayt yisrael, and darchei noam, that the rabbis should be more maikel, and then be mekarav all Jews- whether by choice or by birth. Harshness just drives people away; including born Jews.

What you say about non-Jewish children born to Jewish men may be halachically correct, but it is morally reprehensible. Only junkyard dogs, and men who act like them, sire children and then disown responsibility for them. Better to convert them, or at least raise them as philosemitic Bnai Noach. These kinds of rulings not only turn off gentiles, but the vast majority of Jews.


Archie wrote:

"As far as shuckling, we know for eons that the Jew is compelled by his spiritual components to shuckle. Great rabbis of eras past have said not shuckling is a givaway."

Thanks for sharing the Eastern European centric view of Jewish history. For those Jews with backgrounds not in the shtettle, such statements are quaintly amusing, but disturbing none the less.

Archie Bunker

JJG, you may not know any better, but an old school Reform "rabbi" certainly did. He could delude himself and mislead others while a mortal on this world but he was in for a big surprise if he thought he could continue living a lie in the next world.

This is not about who bloodthirsty Arabs & Nazis want to kill. It's about who has a Jewish soul and who doesn't.

There is no such thing as bestowing an honorary soul on someone because he is a potential terrorist target.


Yes, Archie Bunker, you are right, the late Rabbi and world-renowned philsopher, for some strange reason, decided to raise a random child for 25 years from age 63 until his death. I guess he did so for naught, since halachically he is "not related to the child". Better he should have given him up for adoption so he could be raised as the gentile he is, according to you and the Jerusalem Beit Din.

/sarcasm off

Actually, Archie, you know what the "biggest travesty" is? It's the fact that Chiloni and Gush Emunim would have to protect YOUR exempt Charedi ass when terrorist rockets fall on Bnei Brak and Mea She'arim.

Archie Bunker

What's sad is that people like JJG and their supporters are trying to force the Nation of Israel to accept sham conversions so that they can live with themselves.

That is the biggest travesty in all this.

Archie Bunker

Wise guy Jason, I said already that I do not know all the facts in the Fackenheim case nor do I know the identity of the people involved.

Archie Bunker

That Rabbi Stern quoted in the article from JJG is mistaken. Some have had problems with at least a couple of Vaad conversions although I don't know if there was yet opportunity to challenge the conversions elsewhere.


JJG, you cannot possibly have the personal knowledge that you claim, because Archie has personal knowledge of different facts and he knows everything and everyone.

End sarcasm.

Archie Bunker

"he is of flesh-and-blood to the late Emil Fackenheim"

Even though a Jew sires a child with a non-Jewish woman, the halacha is that the father is not related to the child.

And Mr. JJG can ask around town and he will find out that the Vaad were not the only ones doing conversions 30 years ago.


P.S. Archie Bunker and ardent, Shaarei Shomayim was not the "centre of beth din", there is no beth din "in" the MO Shaarei Shamayim synagogue, an Orthodox conversion is *only* granted by the Vaad Harabonim.

Hey, don't believe me? Give 'em a call:


P.S. Here's an interesting article with comments from Vaad members about yet another Israeli Orthodox Beit Din conversion screw job:


If you don't think the men quoted in this article are holy enough for you, I'm really wondering who are the Torah Jews in these posts.


A couple of comments from a Canadian "apikoras" Jew who has enjoyed a very close friendship with the Fackenheim family:

1. First of all, Shmarya, change the title of this post immediately. Joseph Fackenheim is NOT adopted, he is of flesh-and-blood to the late Emil Fackenheim and his wife who was a convert after the family made aliyah. I can understand the confusion since most Orthodox do not have children in their 50s let alone their 40s, but this is a fact.

2. Joseph's mother chose to convert after Joseph's birth because she believed that being a vocal presence as a Judeophile and hence, a righteous gentile, was of greater importance than conversion itself. Whether or not the Charedi movement cares in their insular world, others of us find this very important as a face to the secular world where Zionism is under daily attack as an "Apartheid" movement.

3. I also happen to personally know the Beit Din of Toronto who performed Joseph's conversion since he also granted me the Get from my first marriage. He is a halachic, traditional Orthodox Rabbi in all senses of the word, and those of you who cast aspersions on him without having a clue -- cough, Archie Bunker, cough -- are practicing Lashon Hora. Period.


Finally, I just happened upon this site so I assume themes like these was discussed in earlier posts. But I have to add that my current partner underwent a non-Orthodox conversion, and, regardless of our observance, we are planning to raise our future children as proud Jews and Zionists.

The fact that, if we make Aliyah, she and our future children would be considered as Jewish as the rocket-firing Hamas terrorists, is insulting and ridiculous. Because of that, we have no intent of making Aliyah. But hey, at least you are keeping the religion "pure".

Archie Bunker

If Shaarei Shamayim was at the center of the beth din for Fackenheim, that explains it.

In those days, Shaarei Shamayim was not orthodox despite whatever they insisted.

Rabbis came out against them publicly because forget about the ankle-high mechitzah - they used a microphone on Shabbos & Yomtov.


F's wife Rose never converted. At least before they went to convert the children she even regularly attended church on Sundays. After the conversion the family (don't know about Rose) often attended MO Shaarei Shamayim. Apparently there was an orthodox bet din of 2 MO rabbis and one very well-known rabbi who was often heard to say that he was pressured (by one of the MO, a very prominent member of RCA, but with questionable hashkafor)to partake in the proceedings and regretted it profoundly. The fact thus remains that the children lived in a mixed marriage household. No idea how much Torah-observance there was there. F himself was a very right-wing reform (though before becoming professor he served as a reform rabbi in Hamilton). In Toronto itself the community found the conditions (conversion etc.) very strange and dubious. Have no idea to what extent the son did abide by mitzvot at any time.
Thus I don't know whether there is a "fire" but certainly enough smoke to raise questions.

Archie Bunker

"the Orthodox become more inbred and less educated"

That sounds like hate filled invective from some other readers here. It is also incorrect. For the first time in decades many more yeshiva students are getting a secular education. Even the likes of Rabbi Shteiman and the Belzer Rebbe in Israel have said that we cannot sustain generations of leeches, many of whom are not even learning.

Archie Bunker

" many would fail (including me)"

Pretend for a moment that gerus is like obtaining US citizenship. There are rules.

An inner-city miscreant who never amounts to anything except a drain on the public purse and keeping a cot warm at the local jail is a citizen by virtue of his birth place. On the other hand, a PHD from Oxford cannot even get a green card unless he follows the rules and is approved.

Archie Bunker

Rabbi Yosef Blau posted a comment on that blog entry on cholent in 2007. He rightly points out that even a Charedi publication may have left out important details and that they were wrong to do so as it create perception problems.

Yochanan Lavie

Archie: Even born Jews have to jump through hoops to make aliya. I am well aware that gerim are vetted, and that's a good thing. But where does it end? Is a literal interpretation of Bereisheet "basic belief?" In which case, many would fail (including me), despite the fact that some rishonim support an allegorical reading. Is going to the movies against halacha? It depends on what movie, and who you ask. As the non-Orthodox shrink, and the Orthodox become more inbred and less educated, the survival of our people ia in question. Why not be like Beit Hillel, rather than Beir Shammai? The sages knew the draconian purity of the Shammaites would ruin Judaism. That's what we're facing today.

But feel free to disagree. I could be wrong.

Archie Bunker

"some k'tan said a Russian oleh had to undergo gerut l'chumrah because he didn't shuckle during davening, and didn't like chulent. I am not making it up."

I don't doubt something like this would be reported by a secular Israeli newspaper known for twisting facts around.

Cholent is only a symbol of warm food on SHabbos. There is a halacha in Shulchan Aruch that we should suspect someone to be an apikorus if they refuse to eat hot food on Shabbos. The reason for that is they think they are smarter than the Sages and think it is an unacceptable loophole in halacha which it is not.

As far as shuckling, we know for eons that the Jew is compelled by his spiritual components to shuckle. Great rabbis of eras past have said not shuckling is a givaway. A non-Jew who mastered the Talmud once came to the Noda Bihudah who saw right through him. The people who tried setting him up were shocked.


Maybe your fear stems from the general fear among non-sectarian Liberals who are always paranoid that someone is questioning their patriotism

I appreciate the sarcasm. But do I need to bring back up all your statements in the last few days actually questioning my patriotism towards Israel? Is that all paranoia or could it be that a rabbi with your worldview might very well decide that my family wasn't Jewish enough? Perhaps someone witnessed my grandparents breaking Shabbat in Auschwitz...

Yochanan Lavie


Archie Bunker

"Modern Orthodox, is not good enough"

In some cases rabbis have been excessively harsh but be aware of 2 things.

All converts have to jump through hoops to prove their sincerity. That is part of the process even if they live the Satmar lifestyle.

Some people who call themselves modern orthodox, not only don't keep all the mitzvos but violate major precepts like Shabbos, kosher & basic belief.

Yochanan Lavie

Jason: I have heard olim already have to jump through hoops to prove their Jewish bona fides.

I have also heard that prospective converts in Israel have to adopt a chareidi lifestyle, or thye won't be considered. Shomer 613 mitzvot, but Modern Orthodox, is not good enough.

Last year, some k'tan said a Russian oleh had to undergo gerut l'chumrah because he didn't shuckle during davening, and didn't like chulent. I am not making it up.

Archie Bunker

Oh come now Jason, there are plenty of ways to prove it. Seth Farber's organization knows all the tricks.

Maybe your fear stems from the general fear among non-sectarian Liberals who are always paranoid that someone is questioning their patriotism.

End of sarcasm.

Archie Bunker

Maven, why would you make such an absurd statement that you think someone is childless? Not only did I never say anything that indicates that but it has nothing to do with the subject at hand.

In any case, I am NOT childless.

Maybe you should change your name from Maven to Clueless.

You can say some rabbis are political all you want. The ones that only uphold the halacha do not deserve to become punching bags for people seeking wholesale conversion fraud. On the other hand, please go after the opportunists like Leib Tropper and some corrupt individuals who surround RYSE.


Maven brings up another good point. As this issue heads down the slippery slope it is on, what happens when non-converted Jews start having problems with the rabbinical courts? My whole family, save for my grandparents, was wiped out in the Holocaust, along with all family records. What happens if and when I decide to move to Israel, or my child attempts to marry, and our lineage is questioned for some political reason (perhaps the rabbis are as opposed to "Leftist Euro-weenies" as Archie is). How will I ever "prove" that I am actually Jewish by birth?


First of all, as opposed to most of you, apparently, as an Israeli, I thought his translation was fine. Secondly, apparently most those on the attack don't read Hebrew either, since it states clearly that it was an Orthodox conversion.
Archieis stating as a "normative Halachic position" recent statements by R. Elyashiv, the most extreme posek perhaps of all time, certainly the one who introduced the most politics into his statements, even more so that R. Shach. Never in Jewish history were there all these attempts at undoing conversions for political gain as there are today.
This whole ugly business (and I suspect Archie is childless) is a cause for serious reflection, in the past this never happened, and in the first round, they went after R. Druckman's bet din, now they are invalidating foreign giyur.
Soon no one, not even Archie, if they are from Chutz LaAretz, will be considered Jewish unless have documentation that they are correctly politically aligned and affiliate.

A good example would be this new concept of "orthoprax" vs "orthodox" with primacy given to the latter because its now more important to believe correctly (ie belong to the correct political group) than to be shomer Torah u'mitzvot is a true sign that Jewry has lost its way and learned to march in step entirely with the surrounding religions.


Archie wrote:

The bottom line is that a true convert receives a Jewish soul which no rabbi has the power to stop and insincere candidates do not receive a Jewish soul

A very sensible statement from Archie. Conversion is indeed between man (or woman) and God. But this only highlights the problem with the mixing of religion and politics. Even if a ger is sincere, he/she can have his/her life turned upside down by political maneuverings under the guise of religion, when in this case religion is being used as just another instrumentality of a political battle.

This is why it was the genius of the Founding Fathers of the US to insist upon separation of church and state: to both protect the State from the influence of religion, and also protect religion from the corrupting influence of the State.

Archie Bunker

Yochanan, you need to separate those who are inhumane & using converts as pawns to empower themselves and those just enforcing the rules no matter how much they irritate invalid candidates and their supporters.

The bottom line is that a true convert receives a Jewish soul which no rabbi has the power to stop and insincere candidates do not receive a Jewish soul no matter how many "progressive" rabbis bend the rules in an empty attempt to make people happy.

Yochanan Lavie

The secular left political parties cynically give in to the chareidim in exchange for votes for "peace." Their other agenda is to make Judaism so unattractive that Jews will flee from Judaism and Zionism, and become "like all the other nations."

Yochanan Lavie

This conversion business is sordid. This is one of the reasons I cannot identify with Orthodoxy, even though I feel it's the "true church." The contemporary k'tanim, with their inhumane legalism, are living out the stereotypes made famous by the so-called New & Improved testament of the scribes and the pharisees.

JAG is already a better Jew than most people with a hem in their dick, IMO, including me.

Archie Bunker

What no one mentioned is that the Rabbanut has a list of rabbis who are disqualified from having their conversions rubberstamped. While some rabbis may be unfairly penalized thanks to Tropper sticking his nose into things, others are on the blacklist for good reason.

Incidentally, Shmarya missed a recent episode with Tropper that was chronicled on Rabbi Eidensohn's blog. At a meeting with EUropean Charedi rabbis, Tropper was told to stop inserting himself into everyone's affairs. Tropper flipped out that anyone would criticize him and ran out of the building.

Archie Bunker

Jon, sorry to hear that you are so "intimidated".

We'll tell you when the coast is clear so you can stop hiding under your bed.

Archie Bunker

I wonder if there is full disclosure required here of Shmarya.

You will find that most people who shout about conversion issues until they are blue in the face have a relative married to a non-Jew who underwent a phony conversion.

There was a head of a Jewish Federation in one city who even infuriated other secular Jews when he used charity funds to fight Israel's Who is a Jew legislation. Of course his daughter was married to a non-Jew who underwent some bogus ceremony.


I am happy if the Charedi Rabbis take such a strict view of conversions. It just means that they are pulling too far too the right, and therefore will lose all power over marriages and divorce in Israel.
These issues are way too complex and personal for them to be controlled by Rabbis with a limited world view, and they have no space in today's modern state.
If somebody doesn't want to marry someone else because of a nebulous concept of whether or not they are a Jew, that is their right.
However, the government cannot base a state policy on it much longer. The sooner and harder the little men in Black pull to the right, the sooner this will become a non-issue.

Posted by: critical_minyan | January 11, 2009 at 04:42 PM
Judaism is whatever the most powerful Rabbis tell us it is.Period. They have wide latitude to do so.

They are very intimidating because almost all non-Orthodox Jews feel guilt on some level that they are not Orthodox. Therefore nobody questions them.

Archie Bunker

"Adam means human being" but that is not always the case in Talmudic contexts where they are discussing the law as it pertains to Jews.

And there is no such thing as absolute finality. That goes against the entire concept of witness testimony or the validity of other proof that emerges. Western Law is based on the Talmud and the same is true unless the secular authorities impose a statute of limitations in some instances.

Archie Bunker


becoming a convert to Judaism is like joining an exclusive club. There are rules. The Princeton Club does not grant membership based on being interred in a concentration camp.

A converted child must be raised according to at least a basic framework of halacha. A Reform "rabbi" living with a non-Jewish woman is not a halachic framework whatsoever.

Archie Bunker

"What other requirements are there for bais din members"

That they not be corrupt, that they not be drunk, etc

Archie Bunker

Avi, we do not posken like the Rambam in many areas of halacha. And there is a basis in the Talmud for rejecting converts with ulterior motives. See the discussion in Chulin regarding kusim who converted out of fear according to the accepted opinion.

That said, I would like to go through the Rambam with the commentaries as I do not just accept Marc Angel's reading of it.

Archie Bunker

"Remember, that the Rabbi's who performed conversions have already passed away."

Really? I haven't heard anyone name them that we should know who they are. Besides that if they were known charlatans for hire it doesn't matter if they have already passed on.

"seems to me that in your world a convert is always under suspicion?"

Not at all. But considering the circumstances I know so far, Fackenheim's case is suspicious.

"conditional on continuous "good behaviour"

Not true. SOme cases are no good from the outset. SOme cases are legit with the convert later becoming unobservant. They would be considered like any other Jew who sins and it does not undo the conversion.


Adam means human being. It does not say Yisrael. Second there must be finality to the geirut process otherwise any ger who is angry can nullify his geirut at any time by saying it was fraudulent. I am not saying that there are never circumstances where the geirut can be annulled, obviously, if there was no Mikvah, there never was a geirut, but the beis din that did the geirut is assumed to know more about the case than a later beis din which is coming in later to second guess. While a posek may advise not to do a geirut under certain circumstances, no REPUTABLE Posek will annul a geirut that was done by another Beis Din, absent substantial procedural issues.


Archie you cannot come 29 years after a baby has been adopted and converted to Judaism and say he isn't jewish. It seems that they didn't want to deal with anything in this divorce and so decided to just say it was void anyway and that the young man isn't jewish.
The beth din of Canada are the ones who converted the baby and unless we hear from them, then this beth din have no power to do what they have done.
I have friends who were adopted and converted as babies. One of my friends was going through a bad patch in her life before she found out who her real mother was and broke shabbat. Does that render her as non jewish and her conversion invalid??? No it does not.
If someone who converted doesn't drink chalav yisrael does that render their conversion invalid too?? This whole conversion thing is getting beyond ridiculous and it seems the Rabbis are doing this as some sort of power rush they get from wrecking people's lives.

Also i don't see why Mr Fackenheim snr being reform has anything to do with this. He was a holocaust survivor and sat in the camps like all other jews, orthodox, reform. It didn't matter what sort you practiced, at the end of the day we were all treated the same and maybe we haven't yet learnt our lesson in recognising all Jews as Jews and now we have this new horror coming to our homes who also don't care whether we are orthodox, chassidish, reform, conservative, because at the end of the day, we are all filthy dirty jews to them and they would like nothing better than to get rid of us.

Isaac Balbin

rabbidw: the essence of the halachik issue is
זכין לאדם שלא בפניו - ואין חבין לו אלא בפניו
and whether someone (and I don't know anything about Fackenheim Junior) may not be in the category of זכין on account
of עבירות
Also, I am not sure why you are seemingly assuming that
a בר עונשים
is 13

Yisroel Pensack

"As long as they were three shomer shabbos men who followed the procedure as set down in the Shulkhan Arukh, it doesn't matter who they are."

Shomer Shabbos is not the only requirement...

Posted by: Archie Bunker | January 11, 2009 at 10:22 PM

What other requirements are there for bais din members, Archie?


Archie, did you read Rabbi Angel's article. If not, please read it. If yes, how do you respond to the Rambam clearly saying any ger-EVEN a ger who converts for ulterior motives, once they went to the mikvah and was circumcised, they are a jew for life. And if the ger subsequently sins, they should be seen as a sinning-jew. How do you respond?


Archie, could you please explain how you are suppose to determine, especially "decades after the fact" that conversion was not sincere. Remember, that the Rabbi's who performed conversions have already passed away. How are you suggesting to do it? Is seems to me that in your world a convert is always under suspicion? Therefore a conversion in your world is conditional on continuous "good behaviour", rendering it empty from the get go.

Archie Bunker

SHmarya offers his readers tonight at 8:53 pm the choice of "leaving Judaism".

Did the Siach organization see this coming? They are no longer running what was the only paid ad on Failed Messiah.

Archie Bunker

"Ein Adam meisim atzmo Rasha."

To ask a "baal habatish" kashyeh, what about if the person gives us proof, especially when he was not Jewish going into the sham conversion whereby he did not receive a neshama? There is no maamar Chazal of ain Akum meisim atzmo rasha.

And if a beis din is corrupt there is a mechanism in halacha to annul their deicisions.

Archie Bunker

"predicate placed before pure lashon hara"

That Neo-blah-blah-tive probably never opened a sefer on hilchos lashon harah in his life may not matter. So allow me to educate him.

There is no issur of lashon harah on someone who excludes himself from the nation of Israel by not keeping certain basic mitzvos. A Reform "rabbi" (and star disciple of Dr. Leo Baeck no less) and public desecrators of the Sabbath are not what is defined as "bichlal Amiesechah"

There's even less chance that Neo is familiiar with the responsa that deal with nullifying conversions - all of them written much earlier than the "past decade".


And Archie, you no more interview people on a 29 year old case than you would in American courts 29 years after a trial. Not without new, relevant evidence that was previously unavailable. Fackenheims current practice is totally irrelevant.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Failed messiah was established and run in 2004 by Mr. Shmarya (Scott)Rosenberg. The site was acquired by Diversified Holdings, Feb 2016.
We thank Mr. Rosenberg for his efforts on behalf of the Jewish Community


Comment Rules

  1. No anonymous comments.
  2. Use only one name or alias and stick with that.
  3. Do not use anyone else's name or alias.
  4. Do not sockpuppet.
  5. Try to argue using facts and logic.
  6. Do not lie.
  7. No name-calling, please.
  8. Do not post entire articles or long article excerpts.
***Violation of these rules may lead to the violator's comments being edited or his future comments being banned.***

Search this site with Google:


FailedMessiah.com in the Media