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March 08, 2014

RCA Denies Conversion Story – Sort Of

RCA logo"…At no time have the RCA or the Beth Din proactively sought to reevaluate conversions; that is not our interest or desire. However, Halachah does have its standards, and we have acted and will continue to act as a source of information to those rabbinic agencies which seek to determine if halachic standards have been upheld. In creating the "Geirus Protocol Standards" system, we have facilitated the acceptance of U.S. conversions throughout the world. Furthermore, it is only natural, as a responsible local presence of halachic authority, that we are a resource for rabbinical agencies, in Israel and worldwide.…"

 

As you read this, remember that the RCA promised in 2007 not to look back and review old conversions. It insisted then that its new conversion standards, drawn up to appease Israel's haredi chief rabbis, would only apply from that point onward.

As you can see from the op-ed by Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld – whom the RCA refuses to name in its statement, likely because it refuses to recognize Herzfeld's smicha due to his association with Rabbi Avi Weiss and YU's competitor, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah – and from the RCA's disingenuous statement itself, its 2007 claims were false and intentionally misleading, just as I said they were then.

Also keep in mind that the case discussed by Herzfeld in his op-ed involves the RCA essentially ruling that the Orthodox beit din, made up completely of YU graduates who got smicha from the preeminent Modern Orthodox leader Rabbi Joseph Ber Soloveitchik d. 1993), which did the conversion in question 35 years ago is invalid because two of its members worked for synagogues that did not have mechitzas (screens to separate men from women during prayer).

Yet Soloveitchik openly allowed his students to take positions in synagogues like that, in part because otherwise those synagogues would defect to the Conservative Movement and hire a non-Orthodox rabbi.

What the RCA is now doing, at least in effect, is overruling Soloveitchik – who they still claim as their spiritual inspiration much as today's Republicans claim Ronald Reagan, even though their policies are significantly more right wing than Reagan's were.

The RCA does this under the spiritual direction of Rabbi Hershel Schachter, the 72-year-old YU rosh yeshiva who is touted as Soloveitchik's spiritual heir and successor.

The RCA claims this is all about halakha (Jewish law), but it really isn't.

Instead, this is all about damaging the left wing of Modern Orthodoxy and promoting its polar opposite, which is headed by Schachter:

RCA/BDA Statement Regarding Past Conversions

Mar 7, 2014 -- A JTA op-ed (March 6, 2014) accuses the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) and its affiliated rabbinical court, the Beth Din of America (BDA), of actively challenging the validity of prior conversions performed by members of the RCA.

We disagree. At no time have the RCA or the Beth Din proactively sought to reevaluate conversions; that is not our interest or desire. However, Halachah does have its standards, and we have acted and will continue to act as a source of information to those rabbinic agencies which seek to determine if halachic standards have been upheld. In creating the "Geirus Protocol Standards" system, we have facilitated the acceptance of U.S. conversions throughout the world. Furthermore, it is only natural, as a responsible local presence of halachic authority, that we are a resource for rabbinical agencies, in Israel and worldwide.

As always, consistent with confidentiality policies, both the RCA and the Beth Din decline to comment regarding the specific facts and circumstances of particular cases.

Rabbi Leonard Matanky, RCA President
Rabbi Shlomo Weissmann, Director, BDA

Related Post:

RCA Quietly Voiding Conversions Done Decades Ago In Violation Of Public Promise Not To Do So.

Comments

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The Haredization of Modern Orthodoxy continues. As I keep saying, we now have two religions - liberal Judaism and Haredism. The Left Wing Modern Orthodox are caught in the middle, trying to placate those on either side. If they'd align themselves with liberal Judaism, they'd survive, but they'll choose to remain on the Orthodox side of the chasm, and it will be their undoing.

Amazing!
We were just learning exactly this point in Masechet Shabbat on page 66a.
There it discusses a convert who lives among gentiles and their level of liability for transgressing the Shabbat if they never learned about the Misva of Shabbat. Tosafot asks the obvious question."How can someone be converted if they never accepted the Misvoth?"
Tosafot answers that when a Ger is converted by a Bet Din that is sufficient to render the person a Jew even without accepting the Misvoth.
From what understand it should be irrelevant whether or not someone keeps the Misvoth after the have been converted by a Valid Bet Din. They are a Jew in every respect.
Personally, I am uncomfortable with insincere conversion but the Halacha is the Halacha and if a valid Bet Din converts someone they are still a Jew even if they eat on Yom Kippur (Chas V'Shalom)

The denied nothing.

Their statement reads "we don't annul conversions - except when we do".

mickee - add Gemara (Yavemot 24B) the Rambam (Hilchos Isurei Biah 13:14) and Shulchan Aruch Yorah (Deiah 268: 12) to you are reading. You are correct. The argument in this case is that the head of the bet din (the rabbi) was not valid because he served in a synagogue without a mechitsah. Never mind they considered him orthodox throughout his lifetime, called him rabbi until the day he died, counted him in a minyon gave him a proper Jewish burial, did not annul a single marriage he performed................

Yup. It's ridiculous.
Yet again politics trump Halacha.

This makes a mockery of the whole process of conversion.

Good at the Joseph Ber as opposed to Joseph Dov. Never ever heard of him referred to as Dov. Often referred to as JB Soleveichick.

Note they were not talking about mixed seating. In many synagogues they just had an aisle between the male and female sections. They were Orthodox in everything but a physical partition.

Then there were Orthodox Rabbis who had smicha from Orthodox institutions who served in Conservative pulpits for various reasons.

R JB's permission to serve in Conservative synagogues without a mechitzah was coming to a end in the late 60s early 70s and was only given with the proviso that the rabbi get the synagogue to put a mechitzah up with in a year or two.if they didn't the Rabbi had to leave..

The last schule that identified itself with Orthodox Judaism that did not have a mechitzah I beleive was in Montreal and now has a Mechitzah.
It was in Hampstead or Cote St. Luc.

I am sure the RCA would not have any problems to vouch for rabbi Tropper (aka Da Shtupper Rebbe)’s conversions, for a long time Hershel Schachter and Tropper were buddies and Shachter regularly spoke in the Eternal Jewish Family conventions (for hefty fee I am sure).

Talking about the Eternal Jewish Family conventions, a relative of mine was regularly invited to the conventions, there were two kind of rabbis who went to those conventions, the important ones who spoke there and the ones who were invited just to be there, we will call them extras. My relative was an extra.

One night in the hotel my relative could not fall a sleep because his room was too close to the elevator so he went to the concierge and asked to change room, the concierge told him, “we have an available room in the luxury section in the hotel which is only for the rabbis in the convention but because you are also a rabbi I can put you there…” (There is where they put the really important rabbis)

After the hotel moved my relative’s luggage to the new room he realized that they forgot something so he went with them back to the old room to retrieve the thing, when he returned to his room he saw an attractive girl getting into one of the important rabbis’ room….

After that he stopped his affiliation with the Eternal Jewish Family…

I was wondering what Rabbi Matanky had to say. There happens to be a man who I am sure he knows quite well in the Chicago Orthodox community whose father was a well-respected rabbi in the RCA and OU and whose father's father was a well-respected rabbi in Chicago.

The father was the pulpit rabbi of 2 OU congregations over about 35 years and neither had mechitzas. They have them now but they did not at the same time as the woman's conversion at issue.

I note they use a weasel-word in their printed response: "proactively." That doesn't change that they are throwing some geirim under the bus by refusing to support them vis-a-vis the Rabbinate despite years of Jewish life and practice.

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