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Leading Dayanim Meet to Discuss Standards for Conversion in Intermarriage

lu.jpgJust a few years ago, it would have seemed impossible to bring together distinguished dayanim from throughout the world to explore issues regarding universally accepted conversions in intermarriage in the 21st century. Yet on Sunday, November 2nd, in downtown Philadelphia, the Eternal Jewish Family once again reached beyond any barriers of this challenge and convened some of the greatest dayanim and rabbanim of our times.

The esteemed group travelled from numerous cities around the world to Philadelphia’s downtown Marriott Hotel. Present were such notable dignitaries as Harav Shmuel Kaminetzky,  Rosh Yeshiva of Philadelphia, member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah; Dayan Chanoch Ehrentrau, Rosh Beis Din of London; Harav Binyomin Weiss, lead dayan of the beis din of Montreal; Harav Reuven Feinstein, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Staten Island and chairman of the EJF halachic committee; Harav Betzalel Tuvia Wettenstein, the Belzer Dayan; Harav  Dovid Olewsky, Rosh Yeshiva, Yeshivas Ger of Brooklyn; Harav Eliyahu Levine, Rosh Kollel of Lakewood; and Harav Elya Ber Wachtfogel, the Rosh Yeshiva of South Fallsburg.

The conference was also honored with the presence of Harav Avrohom Sherman, head of the Bais Din Hagadol in Jerusalem, who communicated the brocho of Maran Harav Eliyashiv for his participation. Also from Israel came Harav Shlomo Pappenheim of the Eida Hachareidis and Harav Eliyahu Eisherik, lead dayan of the beis din of Tel Aviv and author of Toras Haribis. Harav Eisherik is also the emissary of the Gerrer Rebbe in all areas of geirus and concerns regarding botei din.

Together these spiritual giants delved into such topics as the standards of legitimate botei din, family and marital issues, the importance of determining a successful conversion candidate, and numerous other vital issues. The presence of the gedolei Torah, as well as the scope and breadth of their lectures and discussions, gave testimony to the Torah world’s recognition of the important accomplishments of Eternal Jewish Family.

The dayanim shared their experiences with conversions in intermarriage, leading to a yeshiva-like atmosphere as the distinguished participants exchanged divrei Torah. The consensus was clear that relaxation of conversion standards only leads to complex issues in the arenas of marriage, children’s chinuch, and integration into communities. The dayanim concurred that sincere conversion candidates must make commitments to live within communities that have the infrastructure of shuls, yeshivos, mikvaos and kosher food. Harav Leib Tropper, Chairman of the EJF Rabbinic Committee, outlined some of the recent successes of EJF in working with the growing network of botei din that subscribe to the standards of  the gedolei haposkim who guide EJF’s policies.

An intriguing dimension to this revolutionary gathering was that, simultaneously in the same location, another EJF seminar was being held exclusively for the mentors of female candidates for conversion. Travelling from Oregon, Texas, Arizona, California, Maryland, and New York, the women received inspiration from an esteemed group of rabbanim who, while addressing their questions and concerns, also defined their challenging role as mentors of conversion candidates. More than this, the rabbanim conveyed heartfelt brachos that encouraged the participants to continue to be exemplary role models for other women who are on their way to conversion or already integrating into a community after the conversion process.

(Rochel Weinstein – Lubicom)

10 Responses

  1. Why was this not more highly publicized two weeks ago when it took place, why were there no pictures of such a gathering of poskim in one place?

  2. Let us hope that this convention is coming to raise the standards of conversion,as the article implies, rather than lower them as has been the case with this organization till now. With the presence of such notable Rabbonim and Roshei Yeshivos it would seem so but unfortunatly they have been used before. Hashem yerachem.I wonder if the Steipler Rebbi would have approved of this.Oi lanu that veavda hachmus hachamim is being fulfilled in our days.

  3. The real answer to no.1 is that after the one in Washington was held, with so much publicity- it awakened a tremendous amount of protest from many Gedolim. This time they were relativly quiet so no one would know.However they could not resist the opportunity to put out a press release from Lubicom, a publicity firm,that would gain them more publicity.Halavy- v’es senuim chachma

  4. To #5 – there are many prominent gedolim AND botei din that were not represented at this conference. for instance, the Badat”z yerushalayim put out a very strongly worded ‘kol koireh’ against this group and its efforts.

  5. B”H it’s not umaishiv chachamim achar. It’s much pashuter and therefore far less ominous than that. It’s simply that which by ‘nature’ blinds even the most proficiently sighted and distorts the words of even the most clever ones! 🙁

  6. Isn’t that list of gedolim enough to show the Torah world’s acceptance of this organization’s efforts? And the press release doesn’t even mention all the rabbonim and dayonim from across the country who were represented. And #2, your comments that this organization had previously lowered conversion standards is ludicrous. It says that the entire purpose of coming together was to be on common ground regarding conversion standards. This is a huge issue because there are plenty of “orthodox” rabbis setting up false botei din and charging absorbitant fees, as well as others who simply are misinformed regarding the halachos of conversion. We would have the right to question the motives of this organization if gedolei HaTorah were not behind it. Being that they obviously are, these negative comments are a slight not only to the organization but to the gedolei haTorah themselves.

  7. the fact that this organization has chashuva rabbonim backing it, doesnt mean that it never had lower standards. i personally was involved with this organization some time ago when it was NOT on great standards.

  8. To answer some of the questions, Rabbi Amar had been at other meetings, he was not at this one. I would warn posters that they should not talk ill of a Mosad that has the backing of Hagaon Rabbi Eliashiv. There was one dayan who leads an RCA Beis Din present. I’m sure that he reported to his colleagues.

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