Frightened By The Conversion Controversy

Frightened posts to Cross-Currents:

Again, there is an issue in that the court abolished ALL of the giyur done by R. Druckman and R. Avi-Or. The apologeticists and attackers keep framing this debate in terms of extremes, in which a case here or there may not have meant to have a real giyur. A case by case review when there is some kind of safek, may be worthwhile.

However, the fact remains that not all of the converts in Druckman’s bet din were these controversial cases. Many fine frum dati leumi yeshiva types went to Druckman and Avi-Or because the local Rosh Yeshiva sent them, whether its to adopt a child from overseas or to marry a giyoret who had settled in Israel. I know for a fact, since I’m one of these, a yeshiva student who married a giyoret, sent to this bet din, with the best intentions, by a well known rosh yeshiva in Israel.

My kids have been in yeshiva their whole lives. Will Rabbi Adlerstein come and tell my kids, innocent bright children who spent their whole lives in yeshivot, raised frum their whole lives, and explain to them that suddenly they are not Jewish?

While its fun to debate frumkeit and knock this party or that one, does anyone have any idea how real world horrible this is for many of us?

Rav Adlerstein responds:

I won’t, because I don’t believe that this will be the bottom line. If you read my piece again, perhaps you will see where I was heading. I don’t believe that when the halachic dust settles, very many conversions (if any) will be seen as completely invalid after the fact. Those will only be conversions (if they exist at all) in which there was no change in behavior from before the conversion to after. Some cases will be treated as safek, with people who care about what other communities think quietly undergoing a second immersion, without fanfare. (No I don’t know what will happen in the case of a female offspring who has by now wedded a Kohen. My guess is that on a case by case basis, such questions will be dealt with with the same gravity as agunah questions, and top-notch poskim will be meikal in appropriate instances.) I have no idea what will happen in cases in which R Druckman himself was one of the three dayanim in actual attendance, since no one I know of has stepped forth to offer a halachic argument as to why that would not invalidate him. Again, there may never have been such cases. I know that it is easy for me to say, but I would not lose any sleep over this. I will be happy to explain all of this to your children – in person, or by phone.

About Luke Ford

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