So the question was posed to me by "דניאל בן אברהם" who I'm guessing from the name, is a ger. Why do I suppose that they don't ask the gerim, themselves for suggestions? I thought the discussion that has been following warrants it's own post.
דניאל בן אברהם said...
Michal why do you think גרים themselves aren't being invited to help fix this?
January 10, 2010 4:33 PM
Daniel ben Avraham (Are you the one I know? Who lives somewhere around here?)
I think no one cares. That's what I think. I think the rabbis are busy with their own lives and I don't think they want to create a better system, even though everyone pisses and whines about all these (supposedly Orthodox FFB) Jewish men who go out and find a non-Jew and bring them in for conversion. However, no one of substance cares enough to rock the boat and the rabbis have better things to do. If Tropper had done this because he cared, then he would have tried to work with the existing systems not pull what he pulled.
Furthermore, his standards WEREN'T higher. They really weren't/aren't. His people don't even have a sponsoring rabbi. They work with a married lady over the phone who doesn't even live in their community. We had one of their gerim in the community who attended the Chabad shul. The Chabad rabbi profusely expressed that he was not her rabbi, she just attended his shul. Well, she converted and then walked away from the community-jumped ship. She got her papers and that was it. She would not come to shul, return calls or Emails to anyone, not the rabbi, rebbetzin, not even me-a candidate at that time. What she hoped to accomplish with this? I'm not sure. Perhaps, she was converting for marriage and no knew or maybe they knew. I don't know too many details. The system that Tropper sticks his nose up at, it would be much harder for this to happen.
January 10, 2010 8:17 PM
Tropper looked the part and got some R. Reuven Feinstein on his side. He didn't do this for the community, though. I think more than for money, he wanted to feel important. Listen to those tapes and read enough about him, if you have any lick of intuition or binah, if you will, you will see it RIGHT AWAY.
January 10, 2010 8:20 PM
Mordechai Y. Scher said...
As to why gerim aren't invited to fix the problem: in this case, why are they especially qualified? If the problem is one of organization, anyone can fix that in theory. If the problem has halachic subtleties, then a ger who is a talmid hacham could contribute - but no more than anyone else.
As for 'the rabbanim don't care' - this is patently untrue. Conversion and its many ramifications and proper treatment of candidates and standards and autonomy of local rabbanim, and...has been discussed and debated an awful lot the last few decades. Not always in the public eye; but a hot topic nonetheless. Some rabbanim, like Rav Marc Angel, speak out publicly. Some just work away quietly trying to do the right thing. Conversion is a much bigger scale issue now than anytime in our history, and I suspect that is part of the difficulty reaching some sort of consensus, or accommodation, or even simple cooperation. Then, of course, there is the fairly obvious role of religious politics in the whole mess.
What is so sad is that the people who really suffer for all this are the converts and the potential converts, even if we just discount all the ones who seem insincere or uninterested in a real commitment to Torah.
January 10, 2010 8:52 PM
"why are they especially qualified? If the problem is one of organization, anyone can fix that in theory. If the problem has halachic subtleties, then a ger who is a talmid hacham could contribute - but no more than anyone else."
I don't know. I think some of us, because of our vested interests, are extremely aware of a lot of things going on that the rabbis may not be. I also think a sincere convert has an incentive to care. Having gone through the process, we may be able to see if it could have been more efficient.
For me, when I started my Yahoo group after my conversion, I got some ed-juh-mah-kay-shun on what is going through some of the other conversion candidate's minds. Because I wasn't a rabbi, I was asked questions that someone wouldn't have asked a rabbi or rebbetzin. After all that, then I felt that rabbis are converting a little too easy and not looking at the right stuff. They held me up. I still don't see why my first rabbi met with me for less than an hour TOTAL in our ten or so meetings in that first year. I speak to others and their rabbis would meet with them once a week for like 15 minutes... AN HOUR. Even the Av BD in Manhattan meets with you for at least an hour, at least once.
January 10, 2010 9:07 PM
Perhaps, being fresh out my management class where the management mentality we learned was to constantly review the organization structure and see if it can be tweaked... I suppose you're right, it's just another restructuring. We learned in the class that restructuring is very difficult because of organization inertia. People are set in their ways.
I think this applies here, as well. While they claim they want change and the system isn't good enough, really these old rabbis are set in their ways and you know... let someone else change things... after they retire and they'll be happy for them.