Rabbis – Aharon Feldman, Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, Norman Eisenstein, Hershel Schachter, Ovadia Yosef, Shlomo Amar, Yona Metzger, Shmuel HaLevi Wosner, Simcha HaKohen Kook, Reuven Feinstein, Moshe Meiselman, Moshe Soloveichik, Levi Yitzchak Horowitz, ZTL (The Bostoner Rebbe), Yisroel Meir Lau, and many many more…
What do all these illustrious names have in common? It almost sounds like a ‘Who’s Who’ of the Torah world. They are indeed members of an exclusive club of rabbinic leaders But that is not all they have in common. They have all either attended or supported the Eternal Jewish Family. And they have all been duped by its founder Leib Tropper.
One of the biggest problems with EJF's founder long before this sex scandal broke is that he somehow managed to commandeer and virtually control one of the most important aspects of Judaism: The ability of any sincere human being to convert and join the people of Israel.
Leib Tropper is not a stupid man. He managed to connive and cajole leading rabbinic figures both here and in Israel to come on board and endorse what he was doing. International meetings were held and attended by very prominent rabbinic figures or their representatives - traveling from all over the world to attend – as the above list from their website shows.
The names of those involved with EJF is mind boggling in its depth and Hashkafic scope. The above photo of some of them sitting on an EJF dais was taken from their website and is but a small sampling of those who attended and who supported Tropper and his EJF.
All of these illustrious Rabbis were all duped by this man.
This gave Tropper an enormous amount of power and boosted his ego accordingly. He could virtually act in any way his heart desired towards any potential Ger or Giyores without ever worrying that he would be questioned - so certain were his supporters of his Ehrlichkeit. And act he did. Like an actor in a porno movie! And his sense of power made him feel infallible. But the sex scandal is only where it ended. His boosted ego wreaked havoc on converts long before that.
Like canceling a promised conversion for one woman who was completely qualified fully accepting keeping all the Mitzvos. But because she refused to move away from where her husband’s career was, she was denied conversion. Why? Because a Mikvah was not nearby. Never mind that this is not written any where in the Shulchan Aruch. Never mind that this woman was willing to drive monthly to that Mikva. Application denied- have a nice life!
And then there was the report about revoking a conversion of a woman he caught wearing pants.
In both cases the converts were women. (One wonders whether the real reason they were treated this way was because they rebuffed his sexual advances…) The point is that his power over conversions was unchallenged. Everyone trusted him.
And who can forget the EJF meeting where Rabbi Norman Eisenstein- supposedly speaking on behalf of his mentor Rav Elyashiv – decreed that no Dayan - no judge on a conversion court would be accepted if they believed the universe was more than 5770 years old. Of course that casted aspersions on not only the judges but on sincere converts who believed in an ancient universe same as one of the Gedolei Olam - the Tifferes Yisroel. Same as one of the most accepted rabbi/scientists in the Charedi wolrd, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, ZTL.
I can’t imagine what it must have been like for a convert who believed in an ancient universe questioning his own status after hearing about this supposed decree – articulated by Rav Elyashiv’s Askan, Rabbi Eisenstein, in his name. I cannot think of a more widely damaging decree coming out of EJF than that. The repercussions of that statement with respect to the clear Torah prohibition against mistreating converts cannot be clearer. This is what EJF has wrought.
I do not fault any of the rabbis who were duped by this conman par excellence. They were trying to stop what they saw as a terrible trend in accepting false converts. Like those who wanted conversion for social reasons and had no intention of observing any of the Mitzvos. I am not going to go into the debate over that issue. The fact is that some conversions were shams. Others were not. Deciding which ones were and which weren’t is not in my pay grade. But there were real problems and they sincerely wanted to fix them.
I blame only one man. Leib Tropper. He did it all. And he has a lot to answer for long before we ever get to his sexual misdeeds. Thank God he was exposed.
What must now be done is to shut down EJF. It has already done more than enough damage. Damage to Klal Yisroel and more importantly - damage to every sincere convert who – because of EJF and Tropper wondered whether their conversions were truly valid. I think I can safely say that EJF and Tropper are no longer a worry for them. Anything he has done to hurt Gerim has come back to bite him and should be completely ignored by those who have sincerely converted. And by the same token
I think I can say that any EJF Beis Din that performed a conversion – that conversion was valid if it was constructed with the standards EJF had adopted. I can say with virtual certainty that the Dayanim used were of the highest caliber. That Tropper was EJF’s founder and director had no bearing on a duly constructed Beis Din. Unless he was one of the judges. That may indeed be a problem.
I will end with the following message from Rabbi Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer sent to a private e-mail list. I present it here with his full permission.
In light of the recent revelations of the misdeeds of the founder of the organization called Eternal Jewish Family, it is an opportune time for you to make your rabbonim and chaverim aware of the reprehensible nature of an organization that throws geirim who are tzaddikim and tehorim into confusion over their status, declares that individuals who believe as the Tiferes Yisroel and others that the world is more than 5770 years old k'peshuto are pasul as dayanim, etc. There are some who maintain a "head in the sand" attitude and would cover up Rabbi Tropper's misdeeds, but I believe this is the Hashgocho manifest in retribution upon those who afflict geirei tzedek, u'mitzvah l'farsem.