Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Butchers of Truth

Rabbis from the US-based Rabbinical Council of America have "converted" to Judaism a woman who openly declared her loyalty to Christian beliefs.

When I hear a statement like this my ears perk up. Is it possible that the RCA did that? There can be only one answer to that question. No.

It is not possible for any Beis Din no matter how left wing it may be to convert a Jew who believes in Christian beliefs. It just would not happen. But that does not stop the Yated from reporting exactly that. That is where the above quote was taken from.

Will the Yated stop at nothing to discredit their ideological opponents? I will not accept that this is even an error based on faulty information - even if that was told to them in earnest by someone they trust. Even they can’t be that stupid – to believe that any Orthodox Jew – or even a Conservative Jew for that matter - would participate in the conversion of a someone who maintains their belief in Christianity. They might as well have said that the RCA accepts ‘Jews for Jesus’ as legitimate!

The only conclusion I can have is that their agenda of discrediting the RCA supersedes their loyalty to truth. That end justifies any means - even perpetuating a lie! If anyone can come up with even the slightest explanation to exonerate the Yated from purposely publishing a lie, I’d like to hear it.

I have spoken to someone who knows the rabbi involved in this event. He was very clear about it. This is a complete fabrication. But as I said, I did not need him to deny it.

What is perhaps true is that the convert in question visited her family for their Christmas party. That is hardly the same thing as professing a belief in Christianity.

But there’s more:

In another development, the RCA granted a problematic rabbi from their ranks permission to perform conversions. This rabbi is well-known in the US for allowing low mechitzos in botei knesses, Torah readings in women's minyanim and he even advised appointing a woman posek in every shul "to avoid discriminating against women."

Assuming these accusations are anywhere near true, - which is obviously far from certain if the Yated is reporting it – These are far from a disqualifying factors.

First of all I doubt that anyone has advised Shuls to appoint women Poskim. Even Rabbi Avi Weiss hasn’t gone that far. He has appointed female rabbinic interns that have taken on some rabbinic functions. But to the best of my knowledge he has not said they should be considered Poskim. That doesn’t stop the Yated from accusing a rabbi from that Hashkafa of advocating it.

As for the other two items - if a low Mechitza is a disqualifier - then I guess Rav Moshe Feinstein would have been disqualified too. He permits them. ‘Women’s Tefilah Groups’ where things like Torah readings take place are also not done in ways which violate Halacha. None of these factors shoud disqualify a rabbi from serving on any Bais Din – conversion or otherwise.

I have written of my own opposition to these practices. But they are not disqualifiers. Just Hashkafic differences. To disqualify any one from serving as a Dayan on a Beis Din because of a difference of opinion on Hashakfa is just plain wrong. If a conversion is revoked on this basis, I think it is a travesty of justice and in my view violates the Torah’s prohibition against mistreating converts.

If this is the kind of Judaism the Yated and their rabbinic advisors advocate, they will find a very small and diminishing following amongst religious Jewry. Deservedly so.