The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) and the Bet Din of America (BDA) recently announced an overhaul in its policies regarding Jewish conversions by drafting the Geirus Policies and Standards (GPS). This move was largely to placate the Israeli Rabbinate (Rabbanut) which last year openly challenged the halakhic validity of RCA/BDA conversions. These new guidelines were developed in conjunction with the Rabbanut, presumably with the understanding that any conversion which follows the RCA/BDA polices will be readily accepted in Israel as well.
Though instigated by the Israeli Rabbinate, the GPS will drastically reshape how conversions are processed in America. In addition to some guidelines for the conversions themselves, the most significant innovation of the RCA/BDA is the organizational consolidation of regional Batei Din with the intent of establishing objective standards throughout the nation. But as is the case with many “solutions,” the new RCA/BDA policies solve some problems while creating others.
Assuming the Rabbanut actually commits to the agreement, then converts who make aliyah will hopefully have fewer complications with the Israeli government. As anyone who has made aliyah will attest, this benefit cannot be understated.
We previously argued that ideally the RCA/BDA should defend the actual halakhot of accepting converts, instead of capitulating to ego-driven politics. However, the unfortunate reality is that such a stance would be impossible. Even if the RCA/BDA had the will, it lacks the power and mandate to influence the Rabbanut’s machine. The RCA/BDA is not so much an ideological organization1 as it is a trade union whose stated mission is “to advance the cause and the voice of Torah and the rabbinic tradition by promoting the welfare, interests, and professionalism of Orthodox rabbis all around the world.” Protracted political confrontations are of little value to the Rabbinate as a profession, especially when dealing with a powerful entrenched machine such as the Rabbanut.2
What is important to remember here is that regardless of any ulterior social or political motives by the RCA/BDA, the real losers in a power struggle would be the converts themselves. Regardless of halakhic implications, the RCA/BDA’s compromise with the Rabbanut is in the immediate interests of the gerim.
On the domestic front, the new policies and unified organization will improve the conversion process and benefit both the Rabbis and converts in several ways. First, having a halakhicconsensus provides Rabbis guidelines for educating potential converts, and appraises prospective converts of what is expected of them. Perhaps even more importantly, the GPS calls for greater transparency:
Working with the Regional Batei Din, the RCA/BDA will create informational brochures for rabbis to use when meeting with potential converts. These brochures will assist the rabbi by conveying the standardized procedures and requirements to converts and those associated with them. For similar reasons, the RCA/BDA may establish a website with public access.(2)
By publicizing and distributing the standards, the GPS should not only preempt confusion but allows potential converts to explore on their own even before formally approaching a Bet Din.
Secondly, with unified standards Rabbis can easily verify the legitimacy of a conversion. As the RCA statement notes:
While it has been the practice for many years in numerous communities for local rabbis to perform giyyur independently, this practice has led to claims of inconsistent standards and concern regarding the validity of many conversions, a result undesirable both to well-meaning community rabbis as well as many earnest applicants for conversion.(1)
Investigating the legitimacy of a conversion can be a difficult and time-consuming process and having a national organization will undoubtedly make things easier. For their part, gerim can be assured that if they complete an RCA conversion that their conversion will be accepted by the vast majority of Orthodox Jewish communities.
But perhaps the most significant innovation is establishment of a network of regional Batei Din. In addition to ensuring the implementation of the policies, a national network creates distributions of Rabbis which not only will be able assume cases from overloaded Batei Din, but they also provide more accessible options for potential converts.
Despite the theoretical improvements, the actual benefits of the GPS will depend on how the RCA/BDA implements the policies. The GPS is light on the specifics, but there is a clear requirement that the RCA/BDA has final approval over most geirut decisions. This is understandable considering that the RCA/BDA is trying to standardize the conversion process, but it also creates the potential for further politicizing conversions.
In order for a Rabbi to join a regional Bet Din, he must first meet RCA/BDA approval:
Every Dayyan must be an Orthodox rabbi, with a semicha acceptable to the RCA. Although he need not be a member of the RCA, he must currently function at least part-time as one of the following klei kodesh; communal rabbi, chazzan, mechanech, mohel, shochet, chaplain, kiruv professional, or other recognized rabbinic position. Prior to his serving as a Dayyan for conversion, the RCA/BDA will need to approve him, based upon his knowledge of, and experience with, the laws of geirut. Initially, then, each regional Beit Din will submit a list of proposed dayyanim, whose eligibility to serve will be ratified by the RCA/BDA. Over time, additional names may be submitted for approval, as well.(Sec. 3.d.i-ii, 3)
The first point of concern is what is considered “a semicha acceptable to the RCA.” Specifically, would students of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah be eligible for the Bet Din even if they are not approved to be members of the RCA? This is a crucial question given that YCT graduates are currently placing in pulpits all over the country and will soon likely have a greater geographic distribution than their colleagues.
The second point concern in this paragraph is that requirement that the Bet Din must approve the individual Rabbi “upon his knowledge of, and experience with, the laws of geirut.” On one hand this is a completely reasonable request since it should weed out the incompetents. However it also carries the potential for abuse if the approval committee has a religious or personal bias. By the same token, the GPS requires an annual review for the regional Bet Din which means that the regional Batei Din to ensure compliance. This means that as the religious and political dynamics of the RCA/BDA changes, the regional Batei Din will be forced to adapt or lose their authorization.
On a more abstract level, the halakhic components of the GPS compel submission to the RCA/BDA which intentionally undermines the halakhic authority of the local Rabbis. The GPS specifically notes that for virtually all matters of discretion regional Batei Din must consult with and follow the RCA/BDA. This of course is the whole point of “standards” to avoid potential conflicts. On the other hand, it also means that ordained Rabbis with the authority to convert3 must defer to those who may not be as sensitive to an individual’s circumstance or who may not share the same general outlook on conversions. Therefore, depending on the ethics and hashkafa of the RCA/BDA, this situation may either be a positive or a negative which we’ll have to revisit in time.
Regardless of the potential benefits and risks of the GPS, there is one glaring omission. With all the obligations of the Rabbis to the BDA/RCA or the potential converts to the regional Bet Din, there is little discussion as to the responsibilities of the Rabbis to the potential converts. The closest I found in the GPS is this comment:
The regional Beit Din structure recognizes that each person is an individual and that each prospective convert comes with a history and a set of circumstances that are unique. The system presented here, while it has been developed to standardize geirut procedures, also will make every effort to respect and work with the individual candidate “ba’asher hu sham” (8.a.i, 9)
The concluding Hebrew idiom from Bereishit 21:17 refers to the Midrash on Yishmael which states that people are only judged in their current state as opposed to what they will become (or what we would like them to become) in the future. The implication here is that judges should treat each individual separately based on his or her specific needs. However there is no call for treating potential converts with basic etiquette and respect as people.
This may seem overly harsh, but I have had too many conversations with converts who were either neglected or mistreated by the converting Rabbis. This includes Rabbis who have misled candidates or were not forthcoming as to their intentions or requirements. In one case a conversion had to be pushed off repeatedly due to avoidable bureaucratic issues. When the GPS says that “all three members of the Beit Din must be physically present at all of their required meetings with the candidate and relevant other parties (6.c.vi, 8),” my first concern is for the logistics that all three Rabbis will be able to coordinate and keep their appointments.
If a potential convert is neglected or mistreated he or she has little recourse of appeal nor the option of finding another Rabbi:
To prevent a candidate from shopping around for a more amenable Beit Din, all regional Batei Din will tell the BDA, and one another, the names of candidates who have been rejected, and the reasons for that (3.f.ii, 3)
A regional Bet Din could conceivably blacklist a candidate for any reason, real or imagined, thus effectively terminating any possibility of an accepted conversion. This extreme example is all too plausible even with the Batei Din currently operate.
While the GPS’s emphasis on halakha is understandable, it is disturbing that the respect of the convert is largely ignored. Conversion is a complicated life changing process for an individual who must change his or her practices, relationships, and identity. One should be able to assume that Rabbis who are in charge of the conversion process would be sensitive to these aspects of converting and to realize that they have an inordinate control over someone’s life. That no mention of this is made in a reorganization of conversion policies is simply inexcusable.
My initial assessment for the GPS is that there are simply too many questions yet to be answered. In addition to what was already mentioned, here are a few other issues which will need to be addressed:
- According to the GPS, if someone converts outside of the RCA/BDA system, the RCA/BDA “will not be able to endorse them or comment in any way as to their validity” (2.b, 1). Does this mean that they will also not reject conversions? While ineligible for the official RCA/BDA approval, what will the communal status be of conversions which meet the halakhic standards?
- How will the Bet Din or local RCA Rabbis ensure that their converts are accepted into their respective Jewish communities?
- The GPS requires that for converting children the parents must “commit to 12 years of Orthodox day school education for that child. The Bet Din should set criteria for what it considers to be schools in which the child will receive a serious Orthodox day school education” (5.b.ii, 5). What would happen if the Orthodox schools available are not appropriate for the child? If the parent were to switch schools, how would that affect the conversion retroactively?4 Finally, how would the RCA/BDA handle conflicts of interest between Rabbis with connections to specific schools?
- Although R. Michael Azose is on the GPS “Task Force,” what will be the availability and acceptability of Sephardi conversions?
- Will the RCA/BDA be forced to change its policies based on future decisions made by the Rabbanut?
As written, the GPS has the potential to revolutionize the conversion process nationwide. In the best case scenario, Rabbis will work together nationwide to provide support to each other and improve the overall experience for the potential converts. On the other hand, the RCA/BDA could be overrun by religious and political maneuvering which would not only worsen the conversion situation, but ironically recreate the Rabbinic hegemony currently found in Israel.
If nothing else, the GPS represents an important change in Orthodox practice and leadership. The conversion system in certain locales – New York especially – has been an unregulated mess for some time now and the GPS certianly offers an improvement and a chance to work. Hopefully the RCA/BDA is aware of the risks and will respond appropriately.
1. The RCA’s policy statements are more pedestrian than provocative, such as their call to end the Darfur genocide, banning tobacco, and promoting aliyah among others.
2. For the record, the RCA constitution (PDF) states as one of its purposes, “to be ever on guard against any distortion or misinterpretation of Torah-true Judaism by individuals or groups within and without the House of Israel and to clarify through the written and spoken word the true teachings of the Torah.” Make of that what you will.
3. The YU smikha klaf specifically includes “hilkhot giyur.”
4. Thanks to Tzippy Schneebalg for suggesting this question.
You know, setting criteria for schools that constitutes a “serious Orthodox education” limits what an orthodox hashkafa could be. It is like the YCT problem, except with kids.
Plus there is the What if you live in the middle of nowhere problem-Would the community school be ok? What do you do after 8th grade, when a lot of these schools end? What if there is no school?
What about homeschooling? Part time in a yeshiva, part time in a public school? ? In a private school, part time in Jewish studies classes at a local religious jewish college? Part time in a magnet school, part time learning with his father?
I know the BDA is trying, but it is presumptuous to try and measure out the lives of the unborn.
While the issues you raise are quite serious, the risks of not taking action are even more serious. I personally am aware of a few giurin that were affected by such lack of regulation when it comes to standards, and it almost cost my wife her normative first-marriage kesuba (vehamevin yavin) – my mother-in-law is a giyoret, who converted back in the “Wild West” days, with a dayan who nobody remembers anymore, etc. etc.
That being said, she is shomeret mitzvot, and that and the fact that I knew of her converting rabbi, and that my posek said that we generally believe converts when they accept “ol mitzvos” and actually start living it, etc. etc. all made me feel all right with it, but very angry at the system.
The GPS requires that for converting children the parents must “commit to 12 years of Orthodox day school education for that child.”
Day schools are very expensive. Isn’t this essentially puting a price tag on conversion?
at the end of the day dont you think uniform standards leads to more jewish unity by making sure that any conversion is accepted by most groups of jews we wont have people who are considered jewish by some groups and a goy by others
The thing I find amazing about the agreement is the following:
iii. A suggested syllabus will be formulated in due course.
iv. A suggested reading list will be formulated in due course
So while the RCA/BDA spends endless effort on the kashrut of the rabbis, the question of what precisely a convert needs to learn is a mere afterthought. My wife works with converts, both pre and post. A large number of them were exposed to Jewish theology but very little in the way of practical kashrut, hilchot shabbat, etc. Very few were taught the difference between halacha and minhag – at least on prominent conversion rabbi believes that letting a pre-convert know alternate customs exist would just confuse them – he tells his students that everything he teaches is the only legitimate way. Jewish history, even at a Beryl Wine level, is a closed book to most of them. They’ve never read Navi outside of haftorot.
The state of conversion in the US is terrible, yet I fear the centralization and politicalization of conversion will only make matters worse.
In the meantime, converts live in fear, knowing that they or worse still their children may be delegitimized at any time, now or in the future. Rabbi Amar is Chief Rabbi now, but who will be chief rabbi 20 years from now – and what will he think about the rabbanim who are doing conversions today. Once we cross the line into widespread deligitimzation of long term conversions we will be a long time recovering, if we ever do.
Shana/elf – I think the RCA/BDA is trying to ensure the child is educated in an Orthodox system, and it’s possible they’ll accept home schooling or even private tutoring as long as it’s an Orthodox education. My guess is that this requirement was put in not so much to drum up business for local Yeshivot, but to disqualify schools like Solomon Schechter or the Heschel. Also consider that in the process process they disqualify those parents who would send their children to those schools without saying explicitly that they are not sufficiently religious.
Gavriel – Your comment really gets to the point of the problems. Either we allow Rabbis the autonomy to do as they see fit which leads to the “wild west” or we restrict them in the interests of accountability. Your posek is absolutely correct and I touched on that point in the earlier post Double Standards. The halakhot in Torah are significantly more lenient than what the culture has assumed (including converting for marriage) and it is unfortunate that we have (or in some cases need) the added humrot.
In response to elf: Even one of the most vociferous advocates of more lenient standards for the GPS (Rabbi Lookstein) requires converting parents to send their kids to Ramaz, where tuition, when last I checked, cost more than some very fine state universities. Of course day schools are expensive, and there *is* effectively a pricetag on conversion. People undergoing an Orthodox conversion, who will ostensibly live an Orthodox lifestyle, need to know that being frum is very very expensive. If you are not willing to make that kind of financial commitment, no one is forcing you to become Jewish.
tf – We do have uniform standards for defining who is a Jew, but the problem is that people don’t necessarily adhere to them. The GPS seems to be more of a pragmatic compromise with the Rabbinate and not a true desire for uniformity. Still, the point I was trying to make is that the GPS has the potential to be either very good or very bad depending on the how the RCA/BDA decides to follow through on the details.
Larry – They’re probably light on the details to give the regional batei din some sense of autonomy. In terms of content, I recommend that converts read Urbach’s The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs to impress that just as the Talmud has halakhic disputes they also disagree and rarely legislate ideology. In other words, there is a greater range of legitimate theological approaches in Torah than people may be led to believe.
AZR – Judaism may be expensive, but that’s sort of missing the point. I’m assuming you’re not a convert and therefore may not realize the emotional and spiritual need that people have when they decide to become Jewish.
If there are any geirim reading, I’d love to have your input.
I understand why the bar to conversion is so high for people just becoming Jews. But what’s the logic behind similar stringencies when an Orthodox family is adopting a child? Obviously the family is committed to Judaism.
And given the relative newness of day school education in the USA, where’d this day school thing come from?
For starters, Josh, once again thank you for treating a complicated issue in a way that lays out the many issues, both positive and negative for the rest of us to digest more easily.
In many ways, I think that the concerns you’ve raised bear much greater thought. First of all, the concern of a candidate being blacklisted is no small concern. In my search for a bet din that I respected as a halakhic authority, I was told that if I went out of Chicago, i was going to have problems because it would simply be assumed that I didn’t want to work with the CRC because of something shady with me, rather than the contrary.
I think the broader question though is whether or not Orthodox Judaism wants to move in a Protestant or Catholic model; an EU or USAmodel. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Lately we seem to be moving more in the direction of Catholic/USA: a strong central authority with individual bodies under more or less direct supervision. The alternative, which is where I believe “Orthodox”* Judaism has been for quite some time was a far more Protestant/EU model: individual parties/groups with varying degrees of intercourse and often some kind of congress to sort out matters of concern to the larger community but leaving as much as possible in the hands of the individual community.
*Quotes are there lest anyone accuse me of asserting any particular timeline for Orthodox Judaism.
Orthodox day schools can be hard to come by in some parts of the country. It’s possible to raise fine upstanding young (Orthodox) Jews in community day schools and even (gasp) public high schools. I’m really pretty shocked at that requirement, but maybe that’s just because I lived and went to public high school someplace far off the New-York-Ortho-map.
And what’s so bad about a family that wishes to have an Orthodox conversion and send its children to Schechter?
From the other side, I saw nowhere in this agreement evidence of reciprocity with the Israeli rabbinate. We know that the Chief Rabbinate plans at the least still include overseeing the procedures of the US conversion bodies. Does the US rabbinate plan on vice versa?
Any less sets bad precedent. This started because the Rabbinut wants to extend its control over world Torah Judaism and we should not forget that. They are no Sanhedrin.
Preface: I am a convert, who first had a Conservative conversion, and then had an Orthodox conversion (Jew 2.0) with an RCA rabbi (in fact, one of the authors of the policy).
When I approached that rabbi (~9 years ago), he told me that the RCA standards were generally understood to be the following six things:
shomer taharat hamishpaha
the convert must marry a Jew
and any children must go to Orthodox day school (note: Orthodox, not just “Jewish”)
Regarding the school, the assumption is that the convert won’t be sufficiently grounded to educate children him/herself. As assumptions go, this is hardly the most problematic or offensive – that would have to go to the assumptions of immorality on the part of gentiles (and the prohibition against marrying a kohen).
He gave me a really long reading list (which I made the mistake of reading in order, because the first one on the list was Hirsch’s Horeb, which is excellent but daunting)
My experience with this particular rabbi was that he was pretty up front about the requirements. I learned kashrut from following the rebbetzin around in her kitchen – I learn mimetically quite well – and of course the most important thing is to learn not to be afraid of asking questions.
I think there will be problems with the new system, but those problems appear to be smaller than the ones we’ve got now – some of the other converts I’ve met had experiences which would make one wonder exactly what the rabbis’ standards were. I know several people who have had really rough experiences with being raised as a Jew and then finding out that their mother’s conversion wasn’t acceptable. If this can prevent that, it’s worth it.
Mike/Yael – I’m assuming the premise behind most of these requirements is that the RCA/BDA doesn’t want to convert people who will not keep mitzvot to their standards, the reason being, there’s no point in actively creating more transgressions. On the other hand, there is the expectation that an Orthodox day school education will produce a more knowledgeable and observant Jew – even if the family is affiliated Orthodox. I would be curious if they would accept private tutoring instead of yeshiva.
Side tangent: I once argued with R. Tendler over the merits of the aveira avoidance policy. My take was that not only does the gemara not require such an expectation, but according to Kohelet 7:20, “there is no righteous man in the world who always does good and never sins.” Meaning, I can say with relative assurance that anyone who converts will likely violate a commandment at some point.
Jose – I think you’re right that this agreement could move towards some unification, but in practice I doubt it will really take hold. There’s just far too many subgroups out there who will not be able to cooperate ideologically or politically.
HAGTBG – 100% correct and why I included it in one of the future questions. As it is, The Jewish Week reported that the Rabbanut is holding out for more power. As I mentioned, I don’t believe the RCA has either the political clout or moral will to pull off a confrontation.
Also consider the following
David – Thank you for sharing. I think you had a relatively positive experience, which is always reassuring. I also know of an “Orthodox” Rabbi who charges $6,000 and converts within 6 months regardless of knowledge or observance.
I think, however, the larger problem is the ignorance or suppression of the actual laws of giyur from both the Rabbis who convert and the laity who decide not to “accept” based on their own standards and in opposition to the Torah.
You are right that the RCA has no better reason to be involved in Israeli conversions then the Rabbanut in the US. But there must be reciprocity. This sets precedent.
With respect to your points, I submit:
1. This deal appears to mean the Rabbanut now has a say in the US rabbinate. They are looking over the RCA’s shoulder and saying which courts they’ll accept. They are still demanding approval of the rabbis on each court.
2. Attacking the Rabbanut’s authority outside of Israel does not harm the RCA – to the contrary. This is the second time the Rabbanut attempt to assert authority over the RCA has come at its expense (the first time being its failed attempt at jurisdiction in the Monsey rabbi scandal).
3. Fundamentalism is irrelevant. Orthodoxy is fundamentalist, from the most liberal MO. It is the procedures of our tradition that are not being honored here (because one group is likening itself to the Sanhedrin). Worse, it is to our detriment.
[Note that there is room for the Israeli Rabbinate to give in and for the RCA to push. For example, part of the PETA scandal with Agriprocessors was brouight about by the Israeli shcitah requirements which were traditionally frowned upon in the US (i.e., upside-down slaughter). Agriprocessors was trying to enter the Israeli market. Now, this is what the largest kosher slaughtering plant in the US does. As I’ve heard it no Chief Rabbi visiting the US has ever asked how the cow was slaughtered. If this is an agreement of equals then they should be open for discussing this and other issues.]
For better or worse, the Rabbanut is far from worthy of control of world Torah Judaism and may not even be worthy of their position in Israel. The later is not my concern here. The former is.
This is the result of a the current trends in Judaism and this new agreement that you think is so great and needed. That’s so easy to think when you can make choice you desire and not face the prospect of exclusion. It’s sickening.
Someone dedicates their life to Judaism only to be told by someone that they are no longer welcome.
And one wonders why our population statistics tread water…
“Your Not Jewish Anymore” from YnetNews.com
will this policy affect only future gerim, or will it be retroactive as well?
they haven’t said anything about it being retroactive this time around, but that’s how this whole situation started, so I’m curious.
rebecca m – From page 2 of the GPS, “Although the BDA will no longer issue ‘ishurim’ or endorsements for conversions, all
ishurim issued by the Beth Din of America, whether concerning conversions performed in the past or in the interim period until the new system is functional, will continue to be recognized.”
This would indicate that all conversions finalized under the old standards will not be challenged.
“To some degree the RCA (and many Orthodox) brought this on themselves by advocating Israel as a religious state without the foresight to anticipate fundamentalist takeovers. (Assuming of course they do not tacitly approve of fundamentalism)”
As an addendum to how the Rabbanut works, see this disturbing article. Hat Tip
The Israeli Rabbinate / RCA conversion fracas is politics, not Judaism. The Israeli Rabbinate had no problem converting hundreds of thousands of Russians during the Third Aliyah 16 years ago. Now they’ll have us believe they are gravely concerned about a few dozen North American conversions threatening the integrity of Am Yisrael? Unlikely. Today, Rabbi Amar is demanding North American conversion judges have his certification. Tomorrow, the Israeli Rabbinate will require certification of RCA divorce beth din judges, if their decisions are to be valid in Israel. And so on. If the RCA backs down on maintaining the integrity of our own communal decision-making, they will be willingly slipping down a path that leads to emasculation.
Everyone knows that a true convert is obliged to follow Halacha.
Everyone also knows that the local Rabbinical authority “calls the shots” in their area, and that the Israeli Rabbanut, whether we like it or not, decides who is Jewish in Israel where we expect the Beit Hamikdash to be rebuilt.
It is a principle of Jewish Law (Halacha) that a Prophet must follow Halacha or he/she is a false prophet. Clearly, therefore, Moshiach will be beholden to the Israeli Rabbanut as well.
Whether we like it or not, they have authority in this matter. For what it is worth, I personally know over 100 “converts.” Of the 100 or so who I know, exactly 1 (one) approached the Rabbanut to tell them that their decision was wrong, that she is a true Jew etc…. They reaffirmed her conversion on the spot.
The other 99 or so cursed the Rabbis. Clearly not true converts.
All of you born-Jews reading this should think about this question: what would you say if your Rabbi told you that you weren’t really a born Jew? Would you curse him, or would you attempt to prove him wrong?
Nearly every conversion in the US that I have ever seen was only being done because some Jewish young man was satisfying his lust with someone forbidden, and the Rabbi’s of the US kasher intermarriage with their phony conversions.
Thank Heaven that the Rabbanut is doing something to protect our religion. Yes, they made their own mistakes in the past, but at least they are learning now. BTW, the famous Russian mass conversions have all be annulled.
The RCA website says ?the RCA?s hashkafah closely follows the personality and teachings of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik?.
This article originally appeared in Tradition Volume 29, 1994
RAV JOSEPH B. SOLOVEITCHIK AS POSEK OF POST-MODERN ORTHODOXY
By Walter S. Wurzburger
The Rav counseled against denying Conservative or Reform Rabbis the right to use communal mikva’ot for conversions. Moreover, he once instructed me that Reform conversions that were accompanied by circumcision and immersion in a mikve had to be treated as a safek giyur, (Accordingly, a get would be required to dissolve a marriage in which one of the partners previously underwent a Conservative or Reform conversion which conformed to the requirement of mila and tevila).
Scott – Thanks for a great source. But while the RCA and many rabbis claim to follow “the tradition of the Rav,” what is more common is for people to recreate the Rav in their own image such that we can take what we like and ignore what is inconvenient (not unlike what most people do with Torah).
I also find it interesting that he’d take Conservative and Reform conversions that seriously given his other piskei halakha regarding those denominations.
With all due respect Rabbi HaKohen, your statements are unnecessarily harsh. I may not knoww “100 gerim”; but of the ones I know, most did it for conviction and not for marriage! I myself have not converted yet, but I’ve been trying for 4 years…and certainly not doing so for marriage!
I have read this article and the comments with great fascination. As a non-jew (but interested in all relisgions, especially Judaism) it strikes me that people are very quick to give their own views, yet not weigh and consider the views of others, or even be swayed- even if just a little. Tolerance and understanding rule… in most things.. but not all!