Non-Jewish Baalei Teshuvas

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  • #1537325

    Joseph
    Participant

    How widespread is the issue of people becoming an Orthodox BT but it turns out that the person is actually not even Jewish or is a mamzer? See the frightening post today (below) by LAmother.

    The issue she cites is neither new (it is many many decades in the making) nor something Klal Yisroel has been oblivious to. Namely that a large percent of Reform and Conservative adherents are non-Jewish despite their or their ancestors purported Reform/Conservative conversion or paternal descent or that they are mamzeirim by virtue of a Reform/Conservative remarriage with no kosher Get after a halachic or Orthodox first marriage. And many of these non-kosher Reform/Conservative members or their descendents later become an Orthodox “Baal Teshuva” and marry within the Orthodox world with kosher Jews.

    LAmother: As a former reform jew and a bh bas yisroel for many years, I have no.problem with the people themselves (including the nice reform rabbi who ran my father’s funeral and was asking me the halachas) my problem is the evil they have caused klal yisroel. And I give 2 examples. 1. People that are mamzerim as the reform have given second marriages without a Get when their first marriage “happened ” to have been in an orthodox shul…this happened to my mother thank the Lord she was past child bearing years. 2nd in my kiruv work i meet SO many peopLe who think they are Jewish and frum baalei teshuva ready for shdiuchim when they realize theit mother or grandma has a reform (or conservative) conversion. Zehu. Back to bais din to start conversion. (And no, it’s not a quick easy Conversion if u go to a reputable bis din) so while they may be wonderful people their ideas damage klal yisroel to such a bad extent. We will only realise when meshiach comes how many mamzerim or non Jewish generations there are that no one knew about. So, ya, I’m angry.

    Does a reform rabbi do anything other than attend funerals?

    #1537615

    Neville ChaimBerlin
    Participant

    It’s not a big problem at all. Most Reform Jews just marry goyim and end the Jewish line there. When has anyone met a family that’s 5+ generations Reform Jew? They never go more than 2 generations before they goy-out, so it’s not like you ever have to dig deep into their yichus to find out if they’re really Jewish.

    #1537674

    Joseph
    Participant

    Neville: My point here, specifically, is about Reform and Conservative “Jews”, who become Orthodox baalei teshuva despite potentially not even being Jewish or being of a non-kosher inheritance.

    There are numerous such cases. And often they realize it only long after the fact. Other times no one might ever catch on that the “Orthodox Jew” is not even Jewish or is non-kosher.

    #1537682

    akuperma
    Participant

    1. It is common for a Baal Tseuvah to discover that he or she is not really Jewish, or for a potential Ger/Giyoret to discover that they are really Jewish. No big deal (conversion is very “easy” in the case of a Shomer Mitsvos who discovers that he/she isn’t really Jewish). Remember intermarriage has been wide-spread for the last eight generations.

    2. If one holds “Reform” marriages, or even non-marital relationships, are in fact valid halachic marriage, one would probably have to assume that all non-frum Jews are at least safek mamzerim. This is a minority position, and probably most non-orthodox marriages are considered void since neither party intended to be married “k’das Moshe ve’Yisrael”. Also there is the rule that a two safeks (doubts, safek goy, safek mamzer) is resolved by going with the least problematic result (cf. issues with Ethiopian Jews).

    #1537706

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    The bigger issue is not converts, but rather people with jewish fathers

    #1537711

    ☕️coffee addict
    Participant

    We will only realise when meshiach comes how many mamzerim

    i think there’s a gemara that says they won’t be mamzerim only known mamzerim will (because if that wasn’t the case everyone might be mamzerim)

    #1537747

    LAmother
    Participant

    To clarify, I don’t know many about to go on shiduchim that find out they are not Jewish, there is one right now we are dealing with, but we know many who were raised Jewish and are not, and vice versa. One guy is 1/4 Jewish (correct quarter) super frum now, his girlfriend 3/4 Jewish (wrong quarter) who found out she is not considered jewish. And it is not so easy to convert. They still must verify it’s legit and it takes a while to ostart the process get the appointments complete the syllabus etc.

    #1537742

    Avi K
    Participant

    Akuperma, actually intermarriage has only been widespread for two generations with the exception of pre-Nazi Germany where it was already two or three – and they assimilated completely into Xtian society.

    ZD, why is that a problem? One the person learns a bit he will discover that he is not really Jewish and convert. I have several such friends.

    CA, no we won’t. Mi shenitma nitma (once a mamzer has melded into the general Jewish community his problem is forgotten – SA EH 2:5). According to Rabbi Yossi even known mamazerim will be purified. Rabbi Meir disagrees (Kiddushin 72b). In a machloket between Rabbi Yossi and Rabbi Meir we pasken like Rabbi Yossi.

    #1537737

    Sechel HaYashar
    Participant

    Reform and Conservative conversion has been a problem for many years, in Eretz Yisroel and abroad.

    For years, the Lubavitcher Rebbe zy”a campaigned for Giyur Kehalacha to be the only recognized form of Giyur in EY, and Lubavitcher Rabbonim took to the radio waves and newspapers the world over decrying non Halachic conversions.

    Sadly, some Chareidishe elements in EY opposed those efforts, leading to the problems with the Russians today, that many of them who weren’t Jewish were allowed to immigrate to EY, and subsequently married Jewish Israelis.

    In my work as a Lubavitcher traveling the world on Shlichus, too often do I come across reform or conservative converts who have been accepted as part of their local Jewish communities, and it’s heart breaking to tell them that they aren’t considered Jewish according to Halacha. (Not always is it appropriate or necessary to inform them…)

    Today, we have an (arguably) even bigger problem than reform and Conservative – the so called “Open Orthodox”, who’s converts can proudly claim to have undergone an orthodox conversion, while in all likelihood (I’m no expert, but I imagine in almost all cases) aren’t Halachically Jewish.

    Also, we won’t necessarily know when Moshiach comes if someone is now a Mamzer, as the Rambam writes:

    ואינו בא לא לטהר הטמא ולא לטמא הטהור, ולא לפסול אנשים שהם בחזקת כשרות ולא להכשיר מי שהוחזקו פסולין אלא לשום שלום בעולם שנאמר והשיב לב אבות על בנים

    Melochim, 12:2.

    #1537713

    Joseph
    Participant

    When a kiruv person helps someone become frum, they often do not know the lineage or familial background of the non-Orthodox person. Often the person himself, at best, only vaguely knows his own Jewish yichus. Or whether there were any Reform/Conservative conversions on his or her maternal side or whether his own Jewishness hinged upon a paternal-only basis at some point in his lineage. Or whether any of his parents/grandparents/great-grandparents had a previous (potentially halachic/Orthodox) marriage that they never got an Orthodox Get for before remarrying under the auspices of the Reform or Conservative movement.

    #1537785

    ☕️coffee addict
    Participant

    Avi k,

    You’re arguing on the op which I brought, in saying the same thing as you you just brought the mekor which I couldn’t remember

    #1537778

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    The reason why Israel took in the Russians is because of the way the law of return was written. it is basically written after the Nuremberg Laws which defined a jew as anyone with a jewish grandparent. The communists also defined people as jewish and put a J in their passports if they had a jewish grandparent even though the person wasnt halachically jewish.

    Unfortuantly the non-jewish world calls someone with a jewish father ,jewish and will persecute or kill them for it. Those people get the worst of both world, they are treated like a jew, but not really a jew

    #1537860

    Avi K
    Participant

    In any case, the subject of this thread is a non-starter. If someone is shomer mitzvot and it is known that (s)he went to the mikva for keri/nidda b’diavad (s)he is a kosher convert (SA YD 268:3 with Taz s”k 8).

    #1537816

    Avi K
    Participant

    CA, then I did add to your post.

    ZD, you are confusing the Communists and the Nazis. In the former Soviet Union a person’s id card included his nationality. The children of a mixed marriage were given their father’s (so Ivanov might be halachically Jewish whereas Rabinowitz is not). To add to the problem it was often possible to change one’s nationality and it was very advantageous to become a Russian. However, they did not right a “J” (in fat, the letter does not exist in the Cyrillic alphabet). They wrote “Yevrei” (Jewish), Russky (Russian), etc.

    Changing one’s background also existed in Nazi Germany. A non-Jewish woman could testify in court that her Jewish husband was not the father of her child and make him an Aryan. Money and connections helped.

    In any case, the problem will probably go away as the olim, especially those who are not Jewish, have formed a separate subgroup (I even hear children who were obviously born and educated here speaking to each other in Russian unlike children of other groups who generally speak in Hebrew among themselves. In addition, Russian families have a very low birth rate. Two kids is considered a large family. Many are also leaving for the US and Canada.

    #1538010

    Milhouse
    Participant

    Avi K, not true. Even according to those opinions (and who says we pasken like them?) that the tevilah is good bediavad, there must still be kabolas ol mitzvos in front of a beis din.

    #1539047

    Neville ChaimBerlin
    Participant

    “When a kiruv person helps someone become frum, they often do not know the lineage or familial background of the non-Orthodox person. ”

    Nonsense. Kiruv professionals almost always find out if the person has a non-Jewish mother, especially if the person starts getting serious. The situation you a insinuating where someone is completely mekereved, and then finds out they’re goyishe after the point of becoming fully frum has probably never occurred in the history of all mankind.

    #1539166

    Joseph
    Participant

    Neville: That’s hogwash. I personally came across people as I described.

    #1539192

    Avi K
    Participant

    Milhouse, who says that we pasken like the SA and the Taz? Look inside. Even two kosher Jews are sufficient. even an anan sahadei is sufficient.

    #1540487

    Neville ChaimBerlin
    Participant

    Avi, if what you wrote is actually accurately representing those shittahs (I haven’t looked yet) then we don’t posken that way, clearly. Beis dins would have way fewer gers to deal with if we did.

    #1540592

    Avi K
    Participant

    Nevile,
    1. Here is the relevant passage from the SA:
    כל ענייני הגר בין להודיעו המצות לקבלם בין המילה בין הטבילה צריך שיהיו בג’ הכשרים לדון וביום (תוס’ ורא”ש פ’ החולץ).
    מיהו דוקא לכתחלה אבל בדיעבד אם לא מל או טבל אלא בפני ב’ (או קרובים) (הגהות מרדכי) ובלילה אפילו לא טבל לשם גרות אלא איש שטבל לקריו ואשה שטבלה לנדתה הוי גר ומותר בישראלית חוץ מקבלת המצות שמעכבת אם אינה ביום ובשלשה.ולהרי”ף ולהרמב”ם אפילו בדיעבד שטבל או מל בפני שנים או בלילה מעכב ואסור בישראלית אבל אם נשא ישראלית והוליד ממנה בן לא פסלינן ליה:

    So while there are opinions to the contrary the pesak of the SA is as I said (that is the stam).

    Here is what the Taz says:

    (ח) שטבל לקריו – פירוש: שידענו בבירור דבר זה, וכן באשה. ואז סלקה טבילה זאת אפילו לשם גירות, אף על פי שלא הזכיר בפירוש כן. וכן כתב הרי”ף, וזה לשונו: דאי לאו גיורא הוא – לא הוה טבל. פירוש: דאם לא היה בדעתו אז להיות גר – לא היה טובל גם לקרי. ומה שכתב בסעיף יא שאינו נאמן לומר “נתגיירתי ביני לבין עצמי” עד שיטבול בפני בית דין – התם לא ראינו ממנו שום טבילה לקרי. ועכשיו רוצה לטבול לשם גירות – ודאי צריך לכתחילה שלושה. ומורי ורבי חמי ז”ל כתב דנראה לו שהרי”ף הכי קאמר: מדטבל לקרי – שמע מינה שכבר טבל בפני שלושה, ולא משמע כן כלל. גם מדברי רש”י ור”ן מבואר כן בהדיא, דההיא טבילה לחוד סגי ליה אף אם לא היתה אחרת, וכמשמעות דברי הטור ושולחן ערוך.

    2. Whosays we don;t pasken like them? In fact, who are “we”?

    #1540747

    yehudayona
    Participant

    Neville, regarding your comment about non-Orthodox Jews marrying goyim and thereby ending the Jewishness, it’s obviously not the case for Jewish women. I know a Jewish woman who married a goy, and had three daughters who also married goyim. Her grandchildren are Jewish. In this case, all the grandchildren are boys, but if there are girls, it could continue for generations.

    I think it’s fairly common for baalei teshuva to find out they’re not Jewish, and gerus is a clear (not necessarily easy) solution. I question how common the mamzerus problem mentioned in the OP is. Halachically valid weddings among non-frum Jews are probably rare. If you’re talking about frum married women going OTD and then remarrying without a get, I suspect that’s very rare. If they used to be frum, they know that mamzerus is a very serious issue that they probably don’t want to inflict on their children.

    #1540766

    Avi K
    Participant

    Yehudayona, I would add that if a married woman goes OTD her kids will probably be non-frum (as she would most likely get custody) and marry non-Jews. For the boys that means that their children will not be Jewish and therefore not mamzerim.

    #1540792

    LAmother
    Participant

    yehudayona beg to disagree. maybe in the US but in England many get married in”United”synagogue which goes according to halacha. the same shuls get a thousand on rosh hashanah yomkipur and 50 on a reg shabbos. they are not necessarily frum. i assume similar in south africa and some sefardi shuls in the US. the kids do it to please their parents and later move and are in a more reform or conservative shul by the time they get remarried. trust me thats what happened to my mother

    #1540793

    LAmother
    Participant

    BH years later i got a get arranged from my dad and got my mother remarried al pi halacha in a tiny service w 2 witnesses

    #1540794

    LAmother
    Participant

    when i became BT

    #1541019

    Joseph
    Participant

    Scary.

    #1541039

    Midwest2
    Participant

    yehudayona – in terms of descent after two generations the chain is considered broken, since there wouldn’t be reliable information more than two generations back. The issue isn’t as uncommon as you might think. Intermarriage in this kcountry is no longer a new phenomenon. I know of one person who had been close to his Jewish grandmother but was brought up Catholic and only found out at age forty that he was Jewish and decided to return. Unfortunately there were already a non-Jewish wife and child involved, so it became very complicated for everyone.

    #1541102

    Joseph
    Participant

    “in terms of descent after two generations the chain is considered broken”

    Halachicly or practically?

    #1541223

    Midwest2
    Participant

    In terms of considering the person Jewish al pi halacha. Otherwise, a geirus is required.

    #1541293

    Avi K
    Participant

    Midwest, cite your sources. If a person comes to us, tells us he is Jewish and keeps mitzvot we believe him unless there is reason to suspect him. See נאמנות אדם על יהדותו by הרב עקיבא כהנא.

    In many European countries records go back a very long time. In fact, the Nazis ym”s would investigate a person’s lineage back 150 years before letting him into the SS. Today there are professionals who can trace a person’s ancestry using immigration and other records, both in the US and Europe.

    As for your friend, how did the wife feel about converting and remarrying him? I know of cases of mixed marriages where this happened and in one case even attended the sheva berachot after their remarriage.

    #1541641

    Midwest2
    Participant

    I don’t remember the source, but it was a reliable Rav, at the time I met the person I mentioned. Of course rabbonim differ in their shitas, and circumstances may differ. I’m not sure how much a beis din would rely on current professionals.

    In terms of a person who already keeps mitzvot and obviously knows what he/she is doing, it may be the case that Jewishness is assumed, but in the cases I’ve heard of the person was not raised Jewish and had to start from square one.

    I lost track of this friend around twenty years ago, and at that time his wife, who was a religious Catholic, had shown no interest in converting, and his son was too young to deal with the question. He lived in a town were there were very few Orthodox Jews, and made the best adjustment he could, since he was absolutely not going to leave his wife or child. I hope it worked out, but I haven’t heard anything since long ago.

    #1541719

    refoelzeev
    Participant

    While I admit my anecdotal evidence isn’t worth much (for many reasons), I feel the need to point out that I know hundreds of BTs and only 2-3 found out they weren’t Jewish and needed giyur. I don’t know that any of them turned out to be mamzerim, but people don’t tend to bring that up…many of them got married so I assume they or the mesader kiddushin looked into it

    #1541760

    igorleningrad
    Participant

    As a Russian BT who became frum in Russia in mid 80’s and can trace his family tree on all sides min. 6 doires and one side even 1500 years i can tell you something about BT from Russia:
    A lot of Russians were brought here in mid 90’s without families on student visas. They all got free room , board and support. Around 70% of them freid out (matnas chinom in yidishkeit does not work too well) 30% staid. From those who staid, i am very careful and usually not meshadech with them (half of my kids are already married) for simple reason-it was a benefit for them to call themselves jewish and get a free ride to USA. Shluchim from Aguda etc. usually did not do a good job on checking their yichus. VDOK LEHOVIN

    #1541860

    Joseph
    Participant

    Neville: As you see from RefoelZeev’s personal experience described above, though he was trying to point out that it is “only” a small percentage of BTs, he too personally knows 2-3 BTs who turned out to be gentiles *after* “becoming frum”. Who knows how many more of his acquaintance were also like that but he or even they never caught that they aren’t Jewish. And who can even count how many there are there out in the wider world.

    And igorleningrad, above, brings another hencetofore undiscussed angle of this same problem. With the Russians. Again affecting large numbers of people.

    #1541865

    Midwest2
    Participant

    I have had many friends who are from “over there.” In regard to what Igor said, the two most important characteristics are:

    A: In Soviet Russia, nationality went by the father, and up until emigration became possible it was much more advantageous to be a Russian, so what was listed on the identity card wasn’t necessarily true by our standards.

    B. Once emigration was allowed it became better to be a Jew, because if one member of a family was Jewish, the whole family could emigrate. I heard many funny anecdotes about this situation.

    The bottom line is that the situation is often very confused. I knew one poor man who after extended arguments and persuasions got his son to agree to a bris and a bar mitzvah, and then found out that because his wife’s mother had been a Russian married to a Jew, that the boy wasn’t Jewish. He was heartbroken, because even though he wasn’t Shomer Shabbos, he took his Jewish heritage very seirously.

    #1541866

    Neville ChaimBerlin
    Participant

    Joseph: his comment never said anywhere that they didn’t find out until after they became fully frum. Why do you need so much for the world to believe this is a real problem?

    BT’s find out their goyim in their “Baal Teshuva process.” They then either give up, or become gerim. Even if you find someone to come and tell me they knew someone who didn’t find out until he was “fully frum,” I would almost guarantee that person has a different threshold for “fully frum” than I (or you on every other thread in the CR).

    #1541868

    igorleningrad
    Participant

    And another point-how about people having goishe blood?Would anybody here want their grandkids lloking like Russian or Ukranian chazeirim and have their midos ??This one even for me sometimes hard to figure out(if they do look Jewish I have a close friend which i know for 20 years and only recintly i found out that his fathers father and his mothers father were goyim . He is , obviously , still my fiend, but even i did not know that with all my Russian knowledge and experience

    #1542210

    igorleningrad
    Participant

    People are missing a point here-i am talking about Russians which are not disclosing their status, and look like choshive bnei toire or chasidishe yinelight. That’s where the problem is

    #1542331

    Midwest2
    Participant

    I have some experience in kiruv with Jews from the former Soviet Union. By the time someone gets to the point where they could be considered a ben Torah they would have already had enough guidance from a rav to know whether or not they’re halachically Jewish. We who are used to it don’t realize how complex being shomer Torah and mitzvos really is, and how completely it affects our lives. You have to be in the position of explaining things to someone who is starting from square one. I once had the experience of explaining to a bewildered beginning baal teshuva who was learning to keep Shabbos about the 39 melachos, and he breathed a sigh of relief. “You mean there’s logic to it? It just looked like a collection of arbitrary rules.”

    I don’t know about what happens in the Chassidishe community, since I’m half Yekke and half Litvak. Maybe some groups are less demanding.

    #1542577

    Avi K
    “If a person comes to us, tells us he is Jewish and keeps mitzvot we believe him unless there is reason to suspect him. See נאמנות אדם על יהדותו by הרב עקיבא כהנא. ”

    Sigh. A rather absolute statement.
    It depends, for example, on where he is coming from
    According to most, Ethiopian or similar self identification was not enough

    #1542520

    Joseph
    Participant

    People are missing a point here-i am talking about Russians which are not disclosing their status, and look like choshive bnei toire or chasidishe yinelight. That’s where the problem is

    Your hear, Neville?

    #1542570

    “The notion that an [improper] conversion could be annulled after the fact.. is found on occasion and R. Baruch cites some authorities who speak about this very point. Thus, it is not, as has often been alleged, a modern haredi idea with no historical basis although, as mentioned, it was very rare”

    Midwest2,
    That is rather accurate. Some of the old Russian jews who help the Rabbis have a remarkable sense
    of just who is legitimate or not.One of them[he since passed away] was invariably right on

    #1542592

    igorleningrad
    Participant

    midwest2

    YOu are missing my point. Russians i am talking about do know who they are and will never tell you, because they are better off leaving like fummer yiden then leaving in Russia.Also, do not forget that min. 70% or more of the ones that were brought here went off and yiddishe gelt went into sewer.And 70%

    Livish or Hasidish-does not matter-both were very negligent in regards to yichus. They just needed to show that they do kiruv and show numbers to $$$ doners. If you ask me (and i am from Russia) money spent on russian kiruv after Glasnost is mostly a waste.But that is already a different topic.

    #1542641

    igorleningrad
    Participant

    It is Time for Truth

    You do not need an old Rusishe yid- my mother can tell you -she is not that old. I would know like 80-85% of a time, my mother 99%.

    #1542696

    Neville ChaimBerlin
    Participant

    Joseph: I hear to latching on to a new argument that was nowhere to be found in your original post.

    I have no idea the scale of the alleged issue of Russian goyim pretending to be Jews. That, however, was never what this thread was about.

    #1542937

    Joseph
    Participant

    The problem with the Reform and Conservative is numerically much larger than with the Russians. But the issue with the Russian BTs described by igorleningrad is essentially the same halachic problem as what I described in the OP regarding the Reform and Conservative BTs.

    #1543565

    Midwest2
    Participant

    The bottom line is that if you’re doing kiruv, and someone expresses real interest, you do a little asking, gently and diplomatically. If there’s any doubt, consult a rav who is experienced in kiruv with the group the person belongs to.

    Something else to think about regarding geirim. Some non-Jews are interesting in Judaism but don’t know how to go about converting, so they are attracted to a Jewish man or woman. Sometimes this works out – the non-Jew’s interest in conversion sparks the Jew’s interest in teshuvah. Sometimes it’s a disaster, because the Jew is marrying out to get away from Jewishness.

    In any kiruv process a situation may crop up where you need guidance. NJOP (National Jewish Outreach Professionals) or other groups can help. Don’t just try to wing it – people’s lives and happiness are on the line

    #1543651

    Avi K
    Participant

    Time, actually Rav Ovadia accepted them as Jewish and even allowed an Ethiopian girl to marry a cohen based on Responsa Radbaz 7:5 and 4:1290. The Chief Rabbinate decided to require giur l’chumra (no beracha) because of lack of documentary evidence for the time since. Declaring them safek goyim would also remove the possibility of mamzerut as their gerushin is not halachic (neither is their kiddushin so according to Rav Moshe it would not matter). Being that their practices are not in line with normative Judaism in general they do not fit my statement.

    Neville, there was only an advantage to be gained by lying when they requested exit visas and help from HIAS. Once settled in America there was no longer a need to pretend.

    Igor, not only Russians. Now because of cultural assimilation it is not so true. However, in my generation (I am 64) it was pretty to easy to tell if someone was Jewish. In fact, in NYC one could also tell if someone was Irish or Italian.

    #1544155

    Avi K.,
    ” actually Rav Ovadia accepted them as Jewish and even allowed”
    sigh. Everyone is well aware of that

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