Dayan Rav Sherman Attacks Rabbis Lookstein And Weiss; Calls Them ‘Kofrim’; Refuses To Accept Their Geirus

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1Dayan Rabbi Avraham Sherman has come out against modern Orthodox rabbonim in the United States including Rabbi Yechiel Lookstein and Rabbi Avi Weiss. Speaking to Kol Chai Radio, Rabbi Sherman referred to them as “kofrim” and refuses to accept their giyorim. His interview comes at a time during which the Chief Rabbinate Council is discussing the matter of conversions performed in the United States. One of the procedural issues being probed is if the rabbis investigate each and every case individually or give a blanket approval for conversions.

In the case of Rabbi Lookstein, he serves as a Vice President of the Beis Din of America, which supervises conversions. It is Rabbi Lookstein who is responsible for the conversion of Ivanka Trump.

Speaking with the dati leumi Kipa website, Rabbi Lookstein expresses surprise over issues surrounding his conversions. He explains his involvement in the rabbonus for 58 years and how his reputation speaks for itself – puzzled by the fact the Chief Rabbinate of Israel does not automatically accept his converts.

Rabbi Avi Weiss is seen by many a controversial for his ultra-libertarian practices and splitting from mainstream modern Orthodox Judaism. The Chief Rabbis back in 2013 announced they would no longer accept conversions with Rabbi Weiss signature but backed down under the threat of legal actions.

The Chief Rabbinate is now working to formulate new regulations that will govern acceptance of a convert. Rabbi Sherman spoke out ahead of this forum meeting about the rabbonim mentioned above. Rabbi Sherman insists Rabbi Lookstein, who converted Ivanka Trump, released piskei Halacha that contradict Shulchan Aruch.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)


22 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t know if Avi Weiss is a bona fide kofer, but A. What he preaches Is NOT Judaism al pi Torah, and B. Please don’t call him a rabbi.
    Lookstein is Lookstein. That is another whole parsha.

  2. I don’t understand how it is allowed for articles like this to be published? You always have to take what you read with a grain if salt so we don’t know if these statements were even really said but if we they were that does not give anyone the ability to spread this lashon hara or motzi shem ra. It seems that nowadays there is a lack of concern for hilchos shemiras halashon by many, including rabbonim as well as what the jewish media outlets choose to report.

  3. Workout mentioning names, the ‘Rabbi’ he mentions with a w is a rosha m’rusha choteh u’machteh with a box seat in gehenim awaiting him.

  4. Fact: R Lookstein did NOT perform Ivanka’s Geirus.

    Prior to the Geirus the Trumps became aware that he was blacklisted by the Israeli rabbinate, and her Geirus would therefore not be accepted by the Rabbanut.

    Instead, R Herschel Schecter did it. Whether he should have or not, and her status, is an entirely different discussion. But those are the facts….

  5. As for Rabbi Lookstein, I read years back in the Jewish Week that he approved the distribution of certain items to the co-ed students in his Ramaz high school for the purpose of preventing certain diseases on the grounds that “they are going to do it anyway”. How does that sound for an “Orthodox” Rabbi?

  6. #2: 1)a known fact is not loshen horah
    2)a maisis umadiach like weiss, torah commands ‘lo sachmol vlo sechase….’
    3) moitze shem rah does not apply here since its true
    4) lookstein no big tzaddik either..(eg.Toeivah subject
    5) Klall godol ‘im hurav dome l’malach hashem tzevous yevaksho torah mipihu…v’im lav…”

  7. “Rabbi Sherman has a different hashkafa but most of Am Yisrael are closer to the paths of Rabbis Lookstein and Weiss”

    Most of Am Yisrael is not frum, so that’s probably true.

  8. When one Rabbi comes out against another Rabbi it may look that it is a personal thing, especially if the latter is from a different camp. In judgment we might feel that the antagonist is a Baal Machlokes who’s starting up for no good reason. However, in this case we need to view things differently.

    I personally know of cases of “Rabbis” who have converted people for the “right price” despite the fact that the converts clearly had no intentions to live a Jewish life style and were only converting for social and financial benefits. In such cases these “Orthodox Rabbis” were harming Klal Yisrael for financial gain.

    In my opinion their needs to be a proper balance between not making it too difficult to convert, but at the same time not liberally converting any Tom, Dick, or Harry that wants to convert. If a “Rabbi” allows anyone to convert then I would certainly not recognize any of his conversions. In such case, the converts are not pasul; THE RABBI IS!!!

    I do not know the two Rabbis well that are mentioned. However, my understanding is that their views are very liberal even by MO standards (at least concerning Rabbi Weiss) and if that is correct then I would be very hesitant myself to accept a convert from them. Liberal views are not productive in the area of conversions. If all Rabbanim that were involved in conversions would be of traditional values (and I don’t mean Hareidi) then there would be no dispersion cast on any converts to Yiddishkeit. Rabbis like these are causing unwarranted suffering to earnest converts. Very unfair in my opinion.

    Converts can be a greatly beneficial to Klal Yisrael. Many Gedolim have come out from converts, such as Rabbi Akiva. However, that only happens when the convert is totally sincere and dedicated. Otherwise, history has proven the opposite to be the case (such as the Kutim). It is extremely important for us to make sure that their inclusion is done properly and righteously in order to increase sanctification of Hashem’s name and not the opposite, Chalilah!

  9. Why is a rabbi of authority (Rabbi sherman) coming out against ivanka’s conversion? Why would he risk causing a rift between the trump family and the frum population of america? What daas torah is this ma’cha based on? What is the to’eles? How will this help the jewish community?

  10. Rabbi Sherman, why? Leave it alone. Did you ask if the kofim Obama or Sharpton are OK? By mentioning these two minim AND adding the title ‘R’ you’re giving them legitimization. Why? Ignore them and eventually they’ll go away to (in Rav Avigdor Miller’s words) to a warmer climate.

  11. “Wex”- first of all, he didn’t come out against ivanka’s geirus, he is speaking about the rabbi (according to a post here lookstein did not complete her geirus, don’t know)
    Second of all, halacha trumps trump (don’t really think trump cares about the authenticity of his daughter’s geirus)

  12. “Rabbonim from Ne’emanei Torah V’Avodah respond, explaining “Rabbi Lookstein and Weiss have brought thousands of people to Toras Yisrael and adherence to mitzvos.”

    It sounds more like lookstein and weiss have brought toras yisroel (chv”sh) to thousands of people, not vice versa. They are constantly rephrasing, modifying and tweaking toras “moshe” and creating a new Toras “Yisrael”.

    Kudos to Rav Sherman for standing up for toras moshe, judaism, and doing the work we all should be doing.

  13. # 6 – Rumor

    Has Rav Sherman met with Rav Lookstein or is this post and his decision just a hearsay…..as in “telephone game” – he said, she said, I heard, he heard….

  14. All commentators:

    Please state facts, not heresay.

    Avi Weiss is ON RECORD for practices which contradict halacha, and acts which no frum person would do( ordaining female ‘rabbis”, having gospel church perform in shul, interfaith meetings, and statements which are toeivadic and liberal. THEY are on record.No one thinks he is true to Torah principles, and various Modern orthodox organizations have tried to throw the guy out. he has filed lawsuits( which is a very reform Judaism thing to do

    On R. Lookstein, I don’t have an opinion, since I don’t have ANY facts to go by.

    Facts and statements, not rumours or heresay…

  15. It is ready to say someone will not accept the Rabbis’s conversions, but will they have compassion on the people that they already converted? Each case should be decided individually.

  16. Rt- 1)i would think saying “r weiss is not fit to make conversions” would be, in consenquce, saying that r weiss’s converstions (namley Ivanka’s) are batul. Thereby coming out against ivanaka’s conversion.
    2)While trump may not care about how jewish his daughter is, saying that she isnt authentic in something she believes in, is in essence attacking her – thus attacking him – something we as jews should be careful not to do.

  17. Rabbi Hershel Schachter did NOT convert Ivanka.

    Lookstein attended a Christian Church service, in the main sanctuary of the church, during a Christian prayer service to their saviour by a Christian priest, with President Obama right after his inauguration in 2009.

    Even the very liberal RCA that Lookstein is a member of condemned him for attending the church service.