Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Are the RCA standards too strict? What do YOU think?

It seems as though, most converts and conversion candidates are upset about the fact that a convert is expected to live in a Jewish neighborhood. A convert who is not white told me she would not feel comfortable in a white neighborhood. Many countless others are still living with family members: grandmothers, brothers and, of course, parents.

See number 6, section c

Another thing they are upset about is that they are looking for 350 hours of study minimum. Please note that since it is recommended that a conversion take two years, this is less than a half hour a day.

Did I mention that when I started my conversion and I called around, the Reform synagogue told me they required a minimum of one year for study before conversion? Did I mention that the RCA has been converting people in ten months. Not just Ivanka, but, I know of someone else who converted in less than a year through the RCA beis din.

What does everyone think? If someone converts with kids, should it take longer or shorter?


  1. in Seattle it takes longer to convert with children. the rabbi makes sure that everyone is on the same page before conversion. Conversions here take 2-4 years, with the averager about 2.5 years.

    i don't think that it's unreasonable to expect a convert to live in a Jewish neighborhood. they're expected to live within walking distance to shul, and there's not alot of places they can do that. Once they convert, they are required to walk.

    I think living in a Jewish neighborhood is good also because it gives the person converting a chance to see what their lives would be like post-conversion. It would be a try before they buy kinda oppotunity. During the time, a person could decide if this lifestyle is right for him/her.

  2. Well, according to the RCA standards, they claim on paper that they require 2 years. However, we know better. If someone whines and cries to the beis din for 6 months that they think they are ready, they will be converted. It doesn't matter if they just started their conversion 3 months ago, their children don't want to convert and they came out of a divorce immediately prior to studying for conversion. I don't think that would have worked with the beis din I went through.

  3. There are plenty of Jewish neighborhoods that are diverse.

    My conversion took a little over a year. The minimum is usually 2 years. I think for many reasons I lucked out--I obsessively emailed with my rabbi during the conversion process, met with him frequently, was in synagogue all the time, read just about every book on the reading list, moved to a Jewish neighborhood within 5 months, gave up pants after our first meeting and went to Israel for a summer.

    They want you to go through a whole Jewish calendar year, they want you in a Jewish neighborhood and I don't see any problems with that.

    People had issues with how GPS affected converted children. You have to agree to put your children in day school and this is very difficult financially for many converts. Also, if you're kids are special needs, it could be a major issue. Oh and they won't convert you until your kids are in day school and many day schools don't want to take older children who do not have a Hebrew/Judaic studies education. Quite a quandary.

    A lot of the issues rabbis had with the new system was also with the creation of the regional beis din (13 I think for all of the US) which now handle ALL conversions. I really hope that people's conversions aren't taking longer because of paperwork and bureaucracy.

    This new system also took power away from congregational RCA rabbis who used to be able to convene their own baatei din. Rabbis were also worried this would make things more impersonal.

    There was also questions about whether or not conversions done before GPS (the new conversion standards) would be accepted in Israel or if all of them would be questioned.

    It wasn't just about wanting conversions to be easier (which I know you have a big issue with as should everyone), it's much more complicated than that.

  4. RCA standards have made the minimum standard two years. I think one to five years is a good range with most motivated candidates falling between a year and a half and two and a half years.

    I think that for someone to start in November and finish in August, converting without a high holidays and some other issues, I don't get how the RCA would do that.

    You, Aliza, also, had read books as a teenager, so you came in with some background and well, something to make you not "going through a phase."

    I think they actually would make allowances for a disabled child who is better off in public school. There are very few special education yeshivas. Someone we both know may be able to better shed light on that. The point is that you're supposed to become like an Orthodox FFB. Most Orthodox FFBs would never ever dream of, in a million years sending their kids to public school. Special needs children are the exception to this.

    Someone asked one time on "the big group" about homeschooling children. They were asked, "you think you can teach the Jewish subjects as well as the yeshivas?" As someone who's thought about homeschooling if I ever had kids, I noticed this. If someone found a way around that hurdle, it would be ok to homeschool. Problem though, almost no one homeschools after 6th grade. They have to be able to get into a Jewish high school. Things for someone to consider.

    People who already have kids have to put them in yeshiva.

    Re taking power away from sponsors giving it to the local beis din: on paper, yes. However, I know they pretty much go by the sponsors.

    My beis din never went under the RCA. The Queens Vaad beis din was already a regional beis din in this area for long enough that I haven't heard otherwise. The girl who converted the same day as me sent her papers to her future mother-in-law in Israel. They didn't bat the SLIGHTEST eye at them. They took them right then. That makes me feel better.

    The only RCA beis din I know of is Manhattan. A friend from Brooklyn was told Brooklyn falls under that bd. I'm not sure if the Vaad in Queens is doing new conversions. I think the RCA doesn't want them doing conversions which makes me scratch my head, as the true RCA standards are much lower than Queens Vaad.

    Someone who converted RCA would never have gotten through the Vaad's tough standards.

  5. As for homeschooling, people get frum tutors for their kids to come in and do the Jewish subjects. Most of the people I know who are doing homeschooling and are Jewish have found that it's cheaper to pay frum teachers to come over to your house than it is to pay for day school for their four children.

    Ah, but none of the people I see doing this are converts so they are allowed to do whatever they want with their kids.

    I know many FFBs who went to public school, did homeschooling and/or day school or a little of each of these.