Conversion Controversy Discussion

Rabbi Gil Student writes: "The Torah in Motion discussion between R. Barry Freundel, R. Yitzchok Adlerstein and R. Seth Farber about the recent conversion controversy is now available for purchase (link – "The Conversion Crisis – Panel"). I am almost done listening to it and have found it extremely helpful in understanding the different views. I think R. Freundel represents my view — uncomfortable with R. Druckman’s approach but shocked at his being totally dismissed and deemed invalid as a judge. But both R. Adlerstein and R. Farber present their views eloquently."

Baruch Pelta comments: "The conversion conversation was a complex, but very interesting. R’ Adlerstein mostly focused on the halachic issues and said that he thinks R’ Sherman’s position seems to have sound halachic basis, but that the way he handled the issue –suddenly invalidating all conversions under the supervision of R’ Drukman without individual attention — seemed off; R’ Freundel mainly focused on that latter point, that the issue was handled incorrectly; and R’ Farber focused on how he felt that the entire thing was mainly a political war on Mizrachi, and one which will have negative consequences."

Baruch Pelta of orthdoxfreelancers.blogspot.com emails:

The following text is what I could get of the transcript of the Conversion Conference. I missed the tail end because I had to leave at 11:00. I also might have missed or repeated a few lines by accident. The user "torah’" is R’ Seth Farber and the user "Marc" is Dr. Marc Shapiro. 
Aubrey  and Barbara Abrams >> (All): i hear no sound – is any one talking
Moderator Elliot Malamet  >> (All): no one is talking. we are just setting up.
David Sal Brooklyn NY >> (All): 1
David Sal Brooklyn NY >> (All): 1
David Sal Brooklyn NY >> (All): yes
DavidZviAndYael >> (All): yes
Tech Support Burlington >> (All): R. Farber will be joining us shortly…
Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein >> (All): I don’t have sound
mel barenholtz  edison nj >> (All): I hear you but, apparently, R. Adlerstein is not hearing you.
Sholom Eisenstat >> (All): please be patient as we get everyone online
Moderator Elliot Malamet  >> (All): sorry for the delay everyone. we are working out a bunch of technical glitches.
Tova Gutenberg Toronto >> (All): yes
Gary Buchwald >> (All): YES
mel barenholtz  edison nj >> (All): Yes
Avi Tuchman Brookline MA >> (All): sounds fine
Tova Gutenberg Toronto >> (All): we hear you
Judah Isaacs Oak Park Michigan >> (All): we hear you
Tova Gutenberg Toronto >> (All): we cant’ talk
Wallace Greene >> (All): we hear you
Marc >> (All): We hear you — try right clicking and then you can turn on your mike
Muttil >> (All): no one is talking
Marc >> (All): If you right click you will see a mike, click on the mike and then select your microphone
Andy LevyAjzenkopf >> (All): Everyone is coming through fine as far as I can tell.
Moderator Elliot Malamet  >> (All): Hi everyone and welcome to the program. Unfortunately, all of the speakers except for Rabbi Freundel are having computer problems. We apologize for the delay.
Andy LevyAjzenkopf >> (All): Dr. Malamet, will you be available for follow-up questions tomorrow for my story in The CJN [Canadian Jewish News –BP]?
Marc >> (All): Elliot, Rabbi Adlerstein’s mike should work if he does what I said
Wallace Greene >> (All): yes
Wallace Greene >> (All): rumors of my demise are premature
Simcha St Paul >> (All): The Ashdod decision I believe also nulified the Jewishness as a result of children of the union.
Jay Kelman Torah in Motion >> (All): welcome rabbi farber
Jay Kelman Torah in Motion >> (All): not to be confused with e-TiM 🙂
torah >> (All): thanks
torah >> (All): You are all coming through Very choppy
mel barenholtz  edison nj >> (All): the sound is coming through very clearly to me
Wallace Greene >> (All): I know. Thank you. I was just paraphrasing Mark Twain
Avi Tuchman Brookline MA >> (All): Except for a very annoying "hum" which comes and goes while R Adlerstein is speaking, sound is very good.
Judah Isaacs Oak Park Michigan >> (All): Rabbi Avraham Sherman, author of the Rabbinical High Court decision, served for many years as an IDF rabbi, and once spent a sabbatical at Yeshiva University
torah >> (All): very poor and choppy
torah >> (All): tell him to "go down" on the join bar to the way he joined yesterday.
Andy LevyAjzenkopf >> (All): I don’t think Rabbi Farber has a mic or is hearing?
Baruch Pelta Atlanta >> (All): got you
Tova Gutenberg Toronto >> (All): we hear you
rena bannett  >> (All): yes
Wallace Greene >> (All): in and out
tim925 >> (All): Can Rabbi Farber speak louder
torah >> (All): done
Wallace Greene >> (All): The haredi position is inventing a new halakha, one not supported by  major poskim throughout the generations. This is politics, i.e. hijacking the Rabbanut, not halakha.
Susan Brandes >> (All): amazing technology … careful manouvering… Jack
Simcha St Paul >> (All): I support Wallace Greene but go one step further in suggestion that the for years the modern orthodox have been through fear of its own position encouraged the process. They have always been affraid more of what the Hareidim would say than fear of what Hashem would say.
torah >> (All): i agree with it
AHR >> (All): hundreds of thousands of russian jews don’t need conversion, but hundreds of thousands of russian non-jews…
Wallace Greene >> (All): How can the RCA cut a deal with those who delegitimize them ?
Simcha St Paul >> (All): Salachta lavoneinu ki Rav hoo!
Baruch Pelta Atlanta >> Moderator Elliot Malamet : Question, when you get the chance: at a point,, will the chareidim just invoke the Chazon Ish in Hitorrerut 41-42 on how one who distinguishes "between instruction regarding issur ve-heter and matters of legislation constitutes denigration of talmidei hakhamim and places one in the category of those who have no portion in the world to come?" All dayanim who don’t believe daas torah is a classical concept could be pasuled.
Rb Barry Freundel >> (All): I meant the russians who claim to be jewish but are not or we are not sure
Simcha St Paul >> (All): Mipnei chataeinu galinu meiartzheinu.
bill  nj >> (All): i cannot imagine the geirim in place that were intermarried and converted after their intermarriage by RSK, RCOG, RMF and according to many Rambam. any fair reading of those cases has been clouded
Rb Barry Freundel >> (All): they stopped delegitimizing us is the simplest answer
Wallace Greene >> (All): < Rabbi Freundel: What happens when they stop accepting RCA kiddushin ?
Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein >> (All): Noach, I just saw your question.  I agree fully that one who relies on a minority opinion should not chas v’shalom be called a heretic.  But RAL chose his words well.  He should not be called a heretic, but he can be called "wrong." Wrong halachic decisions have consequences. There are some minority opinions that ceasse to have effect halachically.
Rb Barry Freundel >> (All): there are still attempts to delegitimize mo
bill  nj >> (All): the mosy important argument of RSG was that the rav in the city would NEVER have done the geirut and a geirut by either no one of of hedyotot
Rb Barry Freundel >> (All): we are fighting that
Baruch Pelta Atlanta >> mk: or both?
Baruch Pelta Atlanta >> (All): or both?
Wallace Greene >> (All): My basketball playing at YU was never recognized as such by anyone.
bill  nj >> (All): anyone who says that only R. Uziel is the source is simply misreading halakha, cetainly after the fact.  R. uziel was radical but his POV is not required
Rb Barry Freundel >> (All): we worked hard to insure that mo was not delegitimized in any arena
Simcha St Paul >> (All): Re. Russians Ayt la
Simcha St Paul >> (All): Re Russian Ayt la’asot heifer Toratecha
Baruch Pelta Atlanta >> (All): in America, but in olam hachareidi yeshivot in Yerushalayim, the MO aren’t exactly stood up for by the main rabbanim
Judah Isaacs Oak Park Michigan >> (All): would Ruth have made it?
torah >> (All): ilana: i still can’t hear
David Eisen in Bet Shemesh >> (All): Rabbi Adlerstein – With respect to the Langer affair, my understanding was that the virtually universal haredi opposition to R. Goren’s heter to the brother and sister lavo lakahal (with the notable exception of R. YE Henkin) stemmed far more from the opposition against R. Goren as a halachic innovator and as someone who embarrassed the prior batei din by exposing how they did not rule that the brother and sister were not mamzerim despite the significant amount of sfeikot that were heard by the dayanim as to Borokovsky’s bona fide gerut. I believe the Lubavitcher Rebbe was clear on this point in terms of his opposition to R. Goren on a personal level and far lass on the merits of the case of the Langer siblings.
Wallace Greene >> (All): no
torah >> (All): everyone
Wallace Greene >> (All): Ruth’s behavior would have invalidated her "conversion"
Judah Isaacs Oak Park Michigan >> (All): i agree Wally
torah >> (All): choppy
torah >> (All): wireless
Baruch Pelta Atlanta >> Marc: no effect at all?
bill  nj >> (All): is RSK and RCOG and RMF a minority? each allowed a married person to be megayer! the sad part is that we are rewriting halakha
Simcha St Paul >> (All): Sad but it does seem that we must split the people because of its kanayim.
AHR >> (All): or because of left-wingers gone off the deep end
Wallace Greene >> (All): The Hazon Is is minority since  conversion only requires hedyotot. Further, gerut cannot be rovoked retroactively–unlike kiddushin
torah >> (All): I’m sorry. don’t hear the question
Wallace Greene >> (All): Rav Lichtenstein is 100% correct.
bill  nj >> (All): RAL did not mean that this is necessarily a minority view, that itself is debated because of the circumstance
Moderator Elliot Malamet  >> (All): if any of you have questions that you very much want posed, please write me and I will try to get some in.
Baruch Pelta Atlanta >> Moderator Elliot Malamet : Question, when you get the chance: at a point,, will the chareidim just invoke the Chazon Ish in Hitorrerut 41-42 on how one who distinguishes "between instruction regarding issur ve-heter and matters of legislation constitutes denigration of talmidei hakhamim and places one in the category of those who have no portion in the world to come?" All dayanim who don’t believe daas torah is a classical concept could be pasuled.
Wallace Greene >> (All): Why has the RCA capitulated to the demands of a politicized Rabbanut ?
Judah Isaacs Oak Park Michigan >> (All): It reflects what Rabbi Farber spoke about "Lo Tunu Et HaGer:
Noach Stern in Melbourne AU >> (All): For R Farber – for the record what is the basis for describing the BD as governed by a "radical minority’? [Dorothy Dix]
Moderator Elliot Malamet  >> (All): whoah. slow down. i JUST RECEIVED 8 QUESTIONS!
torah >> (All): please write the question
Baruch Pelta Atlanta >> (All): btw, I have to leave at 11
Jay Kelman Torah in Motion >> Baruch Pelta Atlanta: we are planning to end at 11:00
Rb Barry Freundel >> (All): the rca did not capitulate to anything the rabbanut never asked for any input into the standards that we wrote
Rb Barry Freundel >> (All): and the standards are those of many batei din prior to what we did
Rb Barry Freundel >> (All): also there is more leeway in these standards than there was in those of the RCA of ten years ago
Wallace Greene >> (All): The Hazon Is is minority since  conversion only requires hedyotot. Further, gerut cannot be rovoked retroactively–unlike kiddushin
Rb Barry Freundel >> (All): there is acurriculum and a suggested reading list in seperste documents and we are working to revise it
Wallace Greene >> (All): >Rabbi Freundel: Why all of a sudden are only certain rabbis acceptable ? If one joined Agudas HaRabbani, would that make him kosher ?
Rb Barry Freundel >> (All): im not sure why you say only certain rabbanim are acceptable
bill  nj >> (All): rav chaim ozer thought it was revolutionary since they would vlearly NOT become religious
Rb Barry Freundel >> (All): please read the gps document on this on the rca website
Wallace Greene >> (All): Isn’t there a list of acceptable RCArabbis ?
Wallace Greene >> (All): I read the document and it is very troubling.
Rb Barry Freundel >> (All): a list of accepted ones but others can and are being added all the time
Moderator Elliot Malamet  >> Baruch Pelta Atlanta: i’ll try yours next
Baruch Pelta Atlanta >> (All): thank you
Rb Barry Freundel >> (All): there is acurriculum and a suggested reading list in seperste documents and we are working to revise it
Wallace Greene >> (All): >Rabbi Freundel: Why all of a sudden are only certain rabbis acceptable ? If one joined Agudas HaRabbani, would that make him kosher ?
Rb Barry Freundel >> (All): im not sure why you say only certain rabbanim are acceptable
Rb Barry Freundel >> (All): a list of accepted ones but others can and are being added all the time
bill  nj >> (All): u do not need to agree to r. uziel to get to r. druckman’s position!
Marc >> (All): R. Dovid Zvi Hoffmann, R. Mosh Malka, R. Goren and others thought that in a shaat ha-dechak you can use a pilegesh.
Larry in Highland Park NJ >> (All): How can a potential ger find out who is on the list?  To what extent does the demand for quiet investigation mean abuses never come to light and so future gerim go to the same people and have the same problme
Marc >> (All): R. Dovid Zvi Hoffmann held the same view of R. Uziel.
bill  nj >> (All): r. uziel said it was a MITZVAH to be megayer – others saw it permissable because of circumstance
Simcha St Paul >> (All): Let’s keep the entire process in pivate and in the back rooms where no one can see or hear what the Rabbanim are doing.
Rb Barry Freundel >> (All): no just because he is attacked is not a reason for scrutiny but this is an appeals court that has some so standing
Judah Isaacs Oak Park Michigan >> (All): this happened with the concert fiasco in NY, and I think Rabbi Alderstein with all due respect, the problem is publicizing piskei halacha without getting everyone together to learn the true case

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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