Tuesday, December 29, 2009

RCA vs. EJF or MO vs. Chareidi-same question

The RCA has issued a statement about the whole EJF thing. You can see it yourself at this link:

I'm also pasting it below. First, though, I want to comment.

It's interesting that RCA made a statement. For those who follow the conversion world, or even this blog, you will know there has been a back and forth between the RCA and EJF. When EJF formed and stated they were necessary to ensure better conversions, they were making a slap in the face to the RCA. RCA defended themselves in the way of articles published in the Jewish Press. I see this little back and forth as a representation of the MO vs. Chareidi question.

When this is discussed by the Modern, it's, "oh those Chareidi just go so far and they are so legalistic." They use examples of the extremists, not your average yeshivish Joe Schmo, I think though, it should be Yossi Schmoberg or Schmostein because you know, that's more Jewish-hahaha.

When you talk to the Chareidi, or even Yeshivish folks who are not as extreme, they say it's so bad to be Modern Orthodox. I was on the subway with a friend and commenter-she can ID herself if she wants, and her husband and a chasidic man sitting next to her husband just told him, (because of the kippa he was wearing, no doubt) "Modern Orthodox is bad. You shouldn't be Modern." Now there are Modern Orthodox machmir folks like myself. I keep Shabbos and kosher but, I listen to secular music. I have Led Zeppelin on right now. I would expect to date men you don't wear black and white. By the same token, I would expect those men to keep Shabbos and Kosher. I would expect that they don't expect a Tefillin date out of me. I don't think it appropriate for a religious girl to go to a bar or club. However, I do watch and go to movies (rarely, because I find them overpriced.)

I've stated which side of the equation I've chosen. Although, I have many, many Yeshivish friends and I fit in just fine with Yeshivish types, it's not me.

RCA Issues Statement Regarding Recent Developments Surrounding The Eternal Jewish Family Organization

Dec 22, 2009 -- We are deeply appalled, saddened and pained by reports that have reached us concerning alleged inappropriate behavior on the part of the chairman of the rabbinic committee of the Eternal Jewish Family, Rabbi Leib Tropper. We need to wait for more complete information before we can react fully.

Nonetheless, at this time, we would make the following points clear:

1. What we have heard, if true, violates the fundamental elements of all that Judaism holds sacred.

2. We urge anyone who might have been victimized to seek appropriate counseling and we, at the Rabbinical Council of America, remain ready to refer anyone who needs such assistance to the appropriate professionals.

3. Anyone who may have any questions of Jewish Law regarding conversions should feel free to contact our Geirut administrator, Rabbi Michoel Zylberman, at 212-807-9000 ext. 3.

For further information please contact Rabbi Barry Freundel at 202-258-5172.


  1. I don't think that this has anything to do with MO vs. Chareidi. I wouldn't say that most chareidi people know what EJF is, or would care much about it if they did know what it was. The same goes for the RCA, but I'd say even less chareidi people know or care about it. Do you think that people in Boro Park or Lakewood check with EJF before they proceed with geirus work? Absolutely not.

    Why are you so pressed to make every dispute fit into these little boxes of "MO v. Chareidi" or "Yeshivish v. Chasidish" or "Right-wing v. Left-wing"? Real life doesn't fit into boxes, nor do real people. Yeshivish Modern, Modern Orthodox Machmir, Chasidish....What are we? People who have to define ourselves, our issues, and out lives based on what websites like Frumster make us choose to define our hashkafah? Thinking, breathing, real people are complex animals. Perhaps a great many people in the limelight want kavod, and they will seek it at the expense of others, regardless of whether the "others" are MO or chareidi or whatever.

  2. I just started posting about this and saw this comparison and thought I'd blog that.

  3. The Curmudgeonly Israeli Giyoret says:

    "Why are you so pressed to make every dispute fit into these little boxes of "MO v. Chareidi" or "Yeshivish v. Chasidish" or "Right-wing v. Left-wing"? Real life doesn't fit into boxes, nor do real people."

    Yes, but many in the Jewish community pidgeonhole themselves and others. Give the lady time to get her bearings, BeeZee, and by then she'll be sick of all of us. There's no feud like a family feud, I always say.

    Seriously, matters of conversion recognition, and ESPECIALLY this weird new chiddush of "revoking" conversions are bound to strike a sore point with recent, and even not-so-recent converts.

    Me, I never claimed to be perfect, just loyal and obedient (or at least I say "al chet" for it on Yom Kippur). For years and years I worried about not being perfect and being judged for it by the community. Now I think, "What can they do me? Give me back the late nights and layers of skin spent cleaning for Pesach? The anxieties and inconveniences of taharat hamishpacha over the years? The fact that my hats make my head sweat in the summer? And all those fast days, you'd think at least I'd have lost weight..."

    For good or for better, time and our life experiences do NOT run backwards. We live in an era when almost no one takes an agreement seriously; when people have no concept what a vow means. Those of us who do understand the concept of commitment are truly different from most others of our age and time. And, as Louis Armstrong said about something similar, "Man, if you don't get it, you never will".

  4. I never thought of the issue as "revoking" conversions, as this is impossible. They are saying that the people were not appropriate eidim, or the supposed geirim were never truly serious, and so there was no conversion ever in the first place. This isn't revoking, it is saying that the people were wrongly classified as Jews until now.

  5. Well, BeeZee, Rabbis are making statements to the contrary. They are making nice little official statements that conversions can be revoked. It scares the bejeepers out of us because even if we're observant, what if someone lies and says they saw me break Shabbos? Huh? What then? They will make it so I can't be buried Jewish or married Jewish but, I don't consider that a problem since I don't think I will be getting married anyhow.

  6. Having read almost all of the statements and official press involving this issue, I must say that I have never read any statement where the writer or dayan actually said that they were "revoking" conversions. Perhaps it has been interpreted that way, or the Israeli media has used such a term, or those posting on blogs have used this word, but I have never seen an official document saying this personally.

  7. Regardless of whether they use the word "revoke", it should scare the hell out of you that an Orthodox rabbi or beis din has the power to retroactively state that a ger wasn't serious at the time of conversion and declare a conversion invalid. What Rabbi Tropper did in invalidating that woman's conversion set a horrifying precedent. A person's hasgafa grows and changes over time. Say I decide to be MO a decade or more after a charedi conversion, does that mean a rabbi should have the power to say "OH! I see elbows, that means you were never serious about conversion, and you and your almost teenage child (who is FFB!) aren't Jews and never were?! Basically, that is making a statement that gerim aren't ever full Jews, instead we should view ourselves as being on life-long probation.

  8. The Curmudgeonly Israeli Giyoret says:

    BeeZee--Look up "the law of unintended consequences". Just because a lot of well-intentioned people never really MEANT for conversion to be anullable, doesn't mean that's not what Tropper and his ilk have brought about. Really, who knows what are the true intentions of any mortal being (including one's self) until one sees how it all plays out? Chazal tends to leave that realm to G-d.

    The most heartbreaking cases of failed gerim that I know, by the way, involved spiritual and ideological points. Two women converts who seemed like far better, smarter, more motivated and learned Jews than I, decided Jesus was calling them.

    My own response, as a poshutah Yiddenah, would be to say, "Hang up!" Even if, G-d forbid, I might somehow come to suspect that I needed to accept a foreign god in order to get into heaven, I would still rather go to hell with the Jews, so to speak. That's it, I've signed on for this life and the next.

    Then again, I come from stolid Scotch-Irish stock, and we regard switching allegiance on, say, a football team, to be tantamount to adultery.

    Semper Fi, Yidden!

  9. Anothter thing we have in common. I'm also Irish.

  10. I still fail to see how this, on a real level, impacts people. Rabbi Tropper is not someone who was respected in the chareidi community at large, regardless of how he billed himself. The same goes for EJF, as I don't think that most chareidi people really know, or care to know, much about it. As far as in America, I have never seen anyone's teudah for the geirus checked except for the time of a wedding, and then they just looked and said, "Yeah, three frum dayanim, okay," and that's it. In Israel, I know someone who used a beis din that wasn't on EJF's list, nor was it at all "dati leumi" as per Israeli Chief Rabbi acceptance standards, and he was still married in Israel, with everything being legal. People can scream and yell about hearsay all they want, but until we actually see with our eyes a rampant disregard for all gerim, I think it is still just hearsay.

  11. Says you... I know all too many who have told me about thier important mission or how they have so VERY many impressive rabbis backing them. I wonder if those rabbis still do.

  12. The Curmudgeonly Israeli Giyoret says:

    "Anothter thing we have in common. I'm also Irish."

    Yeah, the Celts are real good at fierce total determination, especially in a hopeless cause. I think the contemporary Jewish gene pool could use a bit more Braveheart, a bit less Woody Allen.

    "I still fail to see how this, on a real level, impacts people."

    It's a ger thing, BeeZee. You wouldn't get it.
    Please note that this my be why the Torah enjoins us, over and over, to love the ger and to remember that we were all gerim in Mitzrayim. There's no need to repeatedly command people to do what comes naturally.

  13. It's the forgotten mitzvah. I went to this woman's house for Shabbos and her guest kept asking me why I needed to be there. "Don't you have an aunt or something you can go to?" WTF? I should have asked her why SHE wasn't at an aunt or something.