Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Conversion standards: why R. Lookstein said they are too strict

Fellow blogger, Aliza Hausman, was kind enough to link this article to a comment on the blog post from when I asked if the new RCA standards are too strict.


The rabbi criticizes that these standards will make it harder to convert.

IT'S SUPPOSED TO!!! It's supposed to weed out people who shouldn't be converting.

“The consideration seems to be to make sure that nobody enters the Jewish people unless we are absolutely certain of their present and future adherence to the full range of halacha [Jewish law],” says Rabbi Lookstein.


Rabbi Lookstein also expressed concern that the rabbinic judges could be looking to find reasons to reject a prospective convert rather than welcome her.

THAT'S THE POINT!!!! We are NOT looking for converts. We accept sincere converts but, we are NOOOOOOOOOOOOOT looking for them.

Rabbi Lookstein doesn't like the fact that a sponsoring rabbi doesn't sit on your beis din. Let me tell you something, GPS (the name for RCA's new standards) candidates meet with the av beis din and their sponsor rabbi is there before they meet with the whole beis din. They spend MORE time in one session (about an hour) than my first sponsoring rabbi gave me in the year he was "sponsoring" me.

Overall, says Rabbi Lookstein, the new system makes unnecessary demands on potential converts, and discourages them from joining the Jewish people.

Unnecessary demands? Like Orthodox day school? What observant shomer Shabbos, shomer kashrus FFB, mother keeping purity, Jewish parent(s) would in their right mind send their functional children to public school?

Lookstein says, “suddenly, we’re worried about all these imperfect converts joining the Jewish people. I’d venture a guess that the most imperfect convert an Orthodox rabbi will convert would probably be far more observant and religious than 90 percent of American Jews."

Since when do we measure Orthodox standards by what Conservative, Reform and UNAFFILIATED Jews practice?

Rabbi Lookstein,

Do you have any IDEA how many times I've heard about and read about those who converted to Judaism (some verified Orthodox conversions) and it was just a phase... That's nice, this year I'll convert to Judaism, maybe next year I'll collect stamps. My best friend from the first time I went to college told me, "you're converting to Judaism? I have a friend here who converting in Israel, but she's Buddist, now." Raise your hand if you think converting her was the right decision for those rabbis. What? That's a really low hand raise. You mean you don't want to raise your hand? What? Someone was converted too easily? NO WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYY! Do you hear my cynical and sarcastic tone when you read that? I hope so.


  1. First, I think for converts (especially Jews of Color) it can be difficult to find a day school that is the right fit. Second, where does one draw the line between a normal amount of rejection to gauge sincerity to outright punishment? My son is highly functioning but he has special needs... In my case, finding a day school that has special services (and that has room) is like finding a needle in a haystack. I have to send my child to public school. I know alot of frum parents forced to make the same choice but their Jewishness isn't questioned and will never be questioned.

    My problem is that the guidelines should be just that. When there is no room for indivual families problems will arise. /end soapbox!

  2. Well, considering that the RCA hasn't been keeping to many of their other guidelines, many they can make an exception. As for being a black Jew, that's not a good reason to not put your kids in day school but, a severe enough disability is.