Monday, July 20, 2009

Lowering conversion standards

Did you all hear? Ivanka is now converted. It took her a whopping eight months to convert. She doesn’t dress tznius. She’s not Shomer Negiah.

I’m sorry doesn’t the Torah instruct not to bend the law for the poor or the rich. It seems this is what they did. They bent the rules for her because she’s rich and famous. People tell me it’s none of my business, but as a convert who worked very hard towards my conversion for two years straight, it is my business. When a guy says that he won’t date a convert because converts aren’t on his level and he thinks that because he’s seen this Ivanka Trump bit, it’s my business. People hear this stuff and it lowers the opinion of rabbis in their minds.

Discussing this opinion on a group that I comment on (other than my own), I was jumped on. I was told that she’s modern Orthodox. She doesn’t have to dress tznius. Also, the standards for conversion call for a minimum of two years of study and 350-classroom hours. Did she put that in? She definitely didn’t put in two years. I certainly never saw her at any KJ classes when I used to attend classes there within the last two years.

In the Jewish community, we have far too many girls dressing inappropriately, we don’t need to be allowing more of these girls to convert in. When I take my non-Jewish friend to a kosher restaurant. She sees girls dressed provocatively and she says to me, “I thought you were supposed to dress modest as a Jewish woman. How come these girls look like this?” It’s a major chillul Hashem.


  1. I have talked to people that attend their shul and apparently Ivanka is always there. She attends services more than most members of the shul. Additionally she even attends more regularly than her future husband, Jared Kushner. Do you know for sure she hasn't been studying for a year before she started meeting with the Rabbi?

    Do you know for sure she wasn't living a Jewish life style with her boyfriend before she started studying? Obviously not Sh'N but the other aspects? Also most Rabbis understand that a person converted previously had not been Sh'N and requires it for 3 months prior to the conversion. Do you know for sure she hasn't been?

    Additionally Rabbi Lookstein does not need the money donated to the shul. Some of the wealthiest Jews in the NYC area attend that shul. The last thing he would do is convert someone so they would donate. He is a very well respected Rabbi that has been around for so long. The last thing he would need is to be given a hard time for converting someone who did not deserve to be, and have it ruin his reputation.

    I can understand why this would frustrate you because you have converted previously. You might think that she hasn't worked hard for it because she is rich and was given it, but do you know that for a fact?

    I know many orthodox woman converts who wear pants and don't cover their hair, does that make them not Jewish?

    There actually is a movement with RCA Rabbis to look at the conversion standards as a whole. They need to take every situation on a case by case basis.

  2. Michal:

    Don't allow your detractors (whether on the other website or in real life) to get you down.

    You will, IY"H, get the right guy !


  3. You speak the truth Michal. Ivanka's "conversion" is a slap in the face to real Jewish converts like yourself who have real Jewish souls. It is your business!

    The Kusher family is use to buying anything they want so they obviously bought Ivanka's "conversion." I've heard rumours that Ivanka sent her assistants to most of her KJ classes. That could explain why you never saw Ivanka at the classes. Do we need anymore proof that Ivanka's conversion was a fraud?

    It's so pathetic at how many Jews are blinded by Ivanka's clebrity that they excuse her obvious phony conversion. Thanks for this post because now more Jews, especially recent converts, are coming out and questioning Ivanka's preferential treatment.

  4. Tuvia,
    According to the RCA standards someone is supposed to be studying for two years. If Ivanka was studying at and attending KJ for the last two years, I would have seen her there. It went into the news that she was BEGINNING the conversion process last November. That's eight monthes. Do I know that she wasn't studying before then? She's a celebrity. She can't go to the bathroom without the world knowing. We would have known.

    Yes, KJ doesn't need money because they have all these donors. However, I don't see the rabbis from the shul working with anyone who doesn't have money. You get some free when you have money and don't need it.

    If you don't have money, rabbis won't so much as answer a shailah for you if you want to convert.

  5. I do understand that is currently the RCA standard, however the whole monopoly the RCA is trying to create with conversions bothers me on a whole other level. They want people to think that they are the one and only source, and if you don't do it with them than it wont be accepted. Well all of Rabbi Avi Weiss' conversions were on RCA stationary and look how that turned out.

    I am not saying definitely she was treated the same, but its definitely a possibility.

    Also about the celebrity comment, you have no idea how many people I talked to in the past week since she announced on twitter that her engagement was official had no idea she was converting. You might have known about it but it really wasn't wide spread news.

  6. Anon,
    Actually, she didn't send her assistants. She was attending the intermediate minyan intermittedly. I didn't see her because she started her conversion in November and I took classes and went for Shabbos off and on at KJ ending in February of last year, eight months before she hit the KJ scene. If she was studying for two years, though, I would have had overlap with her.

    As I was typing up in a comment while you were typing up your comment, even if the conversion wasn't bought, advantages come to those who already have advantages.

    I hear many converts saying that she's Jewish and shouldn't be revoked. I just wish the rabbis would get it right the first time. The presence of insincere converts is not the answer. Also, revoking conversions is not the answer. The answer is GETTING IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME.

  7. Tuvia,
    You prove that your sources are bad. Avi Weiss does not do conversions. Rabbi Steven, his associate and the maharat work with the prospective converts. Honestly, girls in Riverdale are much more tznius than the girls on the UES.

    Also, the RCA is actually more lenient than the other baytai dayanim. The other Orthodox possibilities are EJF, Queens Vaad, and the Maysharim beis din functioning under bais din tedik out Bnei Brak. In the states, they are situated in Lakewood. Well, these are the baytai dayanim I know of. There may be more.

    Tuvia, I think you just bluff and try to sound like you know what you're talking about. The fact that you are claiming Avi Weiss' RCA conversions are going bad when Rabbi Steven's name is on the HIR converts proves this to me. Don't feel bad. I spend a lot of time keeping up with this.

    The problem that I have with this is a simple one. When religious Jews, such as the type I'm around, hear about this stuff and see Ivanka's untznius dress (and I'm talking about pictures from her engagement photos, debunking your argument that the pics are old) they think that everyone is converting for marriage. I'm sick of the average Jew thinking we all convert for marriage. Maybe if conversions weren't handed out to those who are converting for marriage....

    If I had had converted for marriage with no intention of keeping halachah, I probably would have been converted in eight months, too, especially, if he or I had money, regardless of whether or not hefty donations were made.

  8. I did not prove myself to have bad sources at all. Here is something written by an RCA Rabbi basically describing what I wrote about. My point is that the RCA conversions are not all that the RCA wants to be.

    You don't really know anything about me so to claim that I bluffed is ridiculous. I am much closer to this whole thing than you would think, so even though you don't want to, just understand that you are beyond over reacting.

  9. I totally agree with everything you said. Converting people who don't keep halacha, even minimally, and who do not integrate into the frum world only damages genuine gerim by creating a certain image of what gerim are - lax, not serious, and not really so observant.

  10. Rabbi Lookstein was the main opponent of the RCA setting up regional Batai Din and moving towards the neational standard for Geirus the proponents of the Beis Din were hoping for.
    I don't think he was easier on her because she (and he) are rich, I think that she falls within the parameters of the more lenient standards he has anyway

  11. Racheli,
    Thank you. Even those who are barely observant make the rest of us sincere converts look bad.

    Tuvia, if your inside track is another blog. I've seen this. This link doesn't apply to new standards. Honestly, as I've stated before, the RCA is already the most lenient MAINSTREAM Orthodox conversion beis din. A beis din set up by an individual rabbi has always been problematic. Also, let me again mention, RABBI AVI WEISS NO LONGER DOES CONVERSIONS. The conversions at his shul are sponsored by the maharat and associate rabbi.

    One should get a conversion that will be suitable anywhere they may go in the future. If someone becomes yeshivish, of course there will be questions about a conversion out of HIR.

    Tuvia, you didn't bluff. You're just upset that some conversions aren't good enough under the new standards. That's the point. The point is that now there are standards and previously any three rabbis could just dunk someone and pronounce them Jewish and maybe they wouldn't have to study very long. So, if someone paid five thousand dollars, they could get a conversion and then they were upset later on to find out that people know the rabbis reputation and no one takes their conversion seriously. Standards were created to protect the serious convert.

    Is it really so outlandish that converts should read Hebrew, know basic brochos and be able to benstch in Hebrew? Is it really so terrible that converts are expected not to dress like whores and galavant around town? Actually, in some places they don't have that standard. Yes, of course converts have to stay religious. If someone is looking to convert and then go back to eating treif, this is ok? NO! It's not ok.

    Whoever said the KJ community has low standards is right on. When I was there, a girl told me what is emphasized is coming to service. She said she wore plunging necklines and nothing was ever said about this. However, something was said if she was late to Friday night service. When I was in homes, I saw girls who dared to call themselves religious sitting on their boyfriends laps. One of their converts has (or did) an open Facebook profile with photos of her dressed in a manner I wouldn't have dressed in my most secular of days.

    It's about time someone makes a standard that converts shouldn't be wearing spaghetti straps and strapless numbers. The official Modern Orthodox standard requires shoulders covered and LOOSE pants as minimum, so, tight jeans are not acceptable. When a skirt is worn, the knees are supposed to be covered. Converts are not even adhering to these principles.

  12. I 100% agree with you that standards should not be lose. One of the best things about Judaism is that the standards are so strict. Many other religions let you go in and out very simply almost as if its nothing. I LOVE how Judaism really makes you work for it.

    In regard to how she dresses, I cannot speak for that. I do not often see pictures of her except for the occasional one she posts on twitter. Here is an example, and her shoulders are covered, and the skirt appears at knee level. I have seen many girls even in Crown Heights with a skirt at the same length.

    I honestly am asking because as a guy I do not know the answer, where did the wearing a skirt as a standard come from. I understand the length, but why not pants? Why are pants frowned upon?

    Overall though I am not saying you do not make good points, however I do at the same time think it upsets you and you are over reacting. I don't know for sure, but I would read from what you wrote that you on some level feel that people will look at Jewish conversions on a lower level due to her conversion, and in affect not realize the work you put in. In my opinion though by you writing this post you are spreading the word that she is not working hard for it. You do not need to take my word, but I do know she has worked very hard for it, and is definitely not just being handed it.

    Her motives may be for marraige, but 100s of people convert every year because of marriage. I have seen cases where someone converts because of their spouse and then become the more frum person in the relationship.

  13. This is not a tznius skirt level or neckline. The sleeves are good for Modern Orhtodox. Whatever girls you saw with short skirts in Crown Heights, maybe they are BT who haven't made it yet. I see lots of girls in these skirt lengths, too. It's very provocative. They are playing with fire. When I got really secular, I wore skirts that length with shorts underneath and I still couldn't get used to it. The knees have to be covered.

    As for where the skirt wearing came from, it came from the men. The men want women in skirts because they like femimine looking women. What they tell us is that pants look beged ish and that it separates the legs and looks improper. Women who wear short skirts know what they think they are doing. They are trying really hard to get married.

  14. I am no fan of marriage conversions. The conversions often last as long as the marriage-if that long.
    I know the Kushners all too well. Money talks. They act like they are entitled and screwed the school with his fathers name and his former schul.
    A convert I once knew was very opposed to marriage conversions. She felt that if rabbis didn't condone marriage conversions, fewer Jewish men would intermarry.

  15. I think that's true. Because there are so many conversions-for-marriage, I think it makes people think that it's ok to intermarry, too. Also, it makes the other converts look bad. That may be something your convert friend also felt.

  16. She also kept secret that her father was Jewish. She was tired of people criticizing him for marrying out. I found this interesting because anti-conveert bigots are more willing to accept "part-Jews" over gentile converts.
    She even had stereotypical Jewish looks (curly black hair and a curved nose). People would often tell her that she looked Jewish and her response was " before I dunled into the mikva , I had blond hair and a button nose!"

  17. That explains the nose...

    I'm terrible.

  18. Actually, I just looked. I don't think this information is correct, or you're talking about your friend?

  19. I was talking about my friend

  20. p.s. are those green eyes yours?

  21. I absolutely agree that fraudulent marriage "conversions" like Ivanka's encourages Jewish men to intermarry. Why should Jewish men date Jewish women when they can easily get an easy marriage "conversion" for their Gentile girlfriends?

    I heard from a good source that Jared and Ivanka went through many heated arguments and several break-ups because she absolutely refused to convert. Jared didn't really care if Ivanka "converted" but was pressured to split with Ivanka by his mother.

    Ivanka was seen wearing a crucifix necklace at her mother's wedding last year right after Jared broke-up with her. This was a sign to Jared that she was a Christian and wouldn't change for him.

    The reason that Ivanka went through conversion classes was because Jared arranged for it to be fast and easy. Jared assured Ivanka that the "conversion" would be only to please his mother and that she didn't have to be a practicing Jew if she didn't want to. Rabbi Lookstein knew that Ivanka's "conversion" was for marriage and agreed to do an express "conversion" because he was intimidated by the Kushner's, according to my source.

    My source also says that Jared's mother Seryl is livid about Ivanka's fraudulent marriage "conversion" and still refuses to accept her as Jared's future wife.

    I've seen photos Ivanka at every major social party in NYC during the last year and she has never dressed tznius. Only a month ago Ivanka wore a very short, at least four inches above her knees, blue sleeveless low-cut dress. It's obvious that Ivanka isn't serious about her "conversion" and never was, as my source has told me.

    How can anyone believe that Ivanka's "conversion" is valid? It's pathetic how money and power have corrupted Modern Orthodoxy. Ivanka's "conversion" was bought and paid for and that is truth.

  22. More photographic evidence that that Ivanka is not serious about Judaism and that her "conversion" was a fraud. The link below shows all of her Ivanka's untznius outfits, including her most recent one which she wore only a few days ago.

    I thought that Ivanka would be more careful about her outfits especially after her so-called "conversion" but it just shows how flimsy her attitude toward Judaism is. Or maybe it just shows how the spoiled Ivanka feels she's entitled to everything including a phony Orthodox Jewish conversion.

    Ivanka is an insult to real converts like Michal and others. I'm surprised it hasn't been more of a controversy in the Jewish community. This isn't just about not dressing tznius. It's about an Orthodox Rabbi violating Halacha law by "converting", in record time, a Gentile for the reason of marriage, which is forbidden, just because they're rich and famous.

    Many people in the Jewish community don't want to discuss Ivanka's fraudulent conversion because they would rather sweep the issues of corruption among Rabbis under the rug. Ignoring it won't make these issues go away but make it worse for real converts and make intermarriage and interdating more acceptable among young Jews.

    I know many people are tired of talking about Ivanka but it's not just about her. It's about the real problem of buying "conversions" for the rich. I wasn't going to write about Ivanka anymore but it's upsetting to see how she's disrespecting Judaism publicly and doesn't care what anyone thinks. Thanks Michal for bringing up this issue because it deserves to be paid attention to.

  23. I didn't have a dime to my name and the rabbis at KJ worked with me. They were nothing but amazing. Don't judge all rabbis by a couple of bad apples. Don't judge all converts by a couple of bad apples. And don't judge all Jews by...see where I'm going? People should be judged, if they are judged, as individuals.

  24. My commenters think she was pushed through for money. I do not. KJ has a plethora of rich donors to choose from.

    The sad truth is that the RCA doesn't hold the GPS standards they claim to hold. They convert people who shouldn't be converted or who need more time in timeframes insulting to Orthodox Jewry.

    What happens when Israel realizes this? They stop accepting RCA conversions and retroactively. RCA needs to clean up their act or sincere converts will be burned.