Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Conversion in the News Roundup
"Want to adopt a prospective convert?" (Jerusalem Post) 11-24-2009
"The Immigration and Absorption Ministry is in need of about 2,000 Orthodox families interested in "adopting" prospective converts to Judaism. About six months ago the ministry began advertising to enlist Orthodox families interested in accompanying immigrants on the path to conversion to Judaism. But there is still a serious dearth.
The potential converts are immigrants from the former Soviet Union who are not Jewishaccording to Orthodox halacha. Families are expected to volunteer to serve as role models for the converts as they prepare themselves for conversion under the aegis of the National Conversion Authority.
The ministry is targeting a very specific segment of the population that is both Orthodox, and that identifies with the goal of encouraging non-Jews to convert. The haredi population, which opposes attempts to encourage mass conversion and the secular population, which does not lead a religious lifestyle and cannot, therefore, aid the prospective convert, are not viable options.”
"Who is a Jew?" (Montreal Gazette) 11-22-2009
“We don't need to wait for the British Supreme Court's decision regarding "M" to understand that secular positive law and Jewish law may collide, and when they do, Dina d'Malchuta Dina, the law of the land is the law. JFS has already complied with the appellate court and will do what the Supreme Court allows it to do, no matter what the Talmud says. Some Jews may cheer. Some may jeer. But all British Jews will comply, and it will not be the first time that secular law, in upholding its own inner standards, will define for practical purposes who is a Jew.”
"A True Repeat Customer: Becoming Jewish 3 Times" (NY Times) 11-26-2009
Daniel M. Gold reviews Yisrael Campbell’s off-Broadway show, “Circumcise Me”:
“The biggest source of humor is the rivalry Mr. Campbell encounters among the different streams of Judaism. Think of the old Jewish man on a desert island who shows his rescuer the synagogues he built — the one he attends and “the one I wouldn’t go into” — and you get the idea.
Mr. Campbell nudges at the foibles of religion generally. After becoming Jewish and living in Los Angeles, he marries an Egyptian woman whose father insists that he convert to Islam. He declines: “If I belong to all three major religions in one calendar year, people are going to doubt my sincerity.””
"Convert's a cutup" (NY Post) 12-1-2009
Frank Scheck gives convert Yisrael Campell’s off-Broadway show “Circumcise Me” 3 out of 4 stars!
"Does Practice Make Perfect?" (Jewish Week-New York) 12-01-2009
“Fearing other court rulings, state-funded Jewish schools across the UK have set up a points system to determine faith-based, non-ethnic, non-racial determinations of Jewish identity, reports the Guardian. For example, the schools established a points system in which a child earns admission points for synagogue attendance; with lesser points for synagogue study or tutorials; or working or volunteering with a Jewish organization.”
"Never mind the rabbis, here's the chuppah" (Haaretz) 12-4-2009
“The matter-of-fact manner in which Maxim Serdhiukov recounts how Ashkelon's rabbi in August refused to register him and his converted fiancee for marriage betrays little emotion. But signs of his indignation are nonetheless present. "This country has a Knesset and it has laws, and if some punk rabbi decides to take the law into his own hands, then I will not remain silent about it," says the 24-year-old Serdhiukov, who was born in Latvia to Jewish parents who immigrated to Israel in 1993.
Serdhiukov says that Ashkelon's rabbi, Yosef Haim Bloi, told him that he would not register Serdhiukov and his Russian-born fiancee, Eline Roiz, because his office does not handle converts to Judaism. He says Bloi didn't care that the chief rabbinate approved her conversion while she was in the army. Then, a woman from the rabbi's office called Serdhiukov to further explain to him that he was "not the problem, but that the problem was with Eline."”
"To Immerse or Not to Immerse?" (Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles) 12-3-2009
“My boyfriend was sitting with me at my Reform temple, listening as the rabbi recounted our predicament to make sure he understood the situation.
“Joe, by asking Brianna to convert into Conservative Judaism, it is denying the fact that she is Jewish to begin with,” my rabbi said.
Not only was Joe questioning my Jewish identity, but we were debating whether or not it would be necessary for me to visit the mikveh.
My boyfriend, whom I met online, comes from a very traditional Sephardic Conservadox background. He feels that my family heritage has a “questionable” past, and to his mind a conversion was necessary before we could continue with our relationship.
A small pool of water stood between me and my future with Joe.”
"Threat of suit pressures Rabbinate to reopen conversion annulment issue" (Haaretz) 12-4-2009
“A local nonprofit assisting Jewish converts is for the first time planning to take the Chief Rabbinate of Israel to court for not preventing the retroactive annulment of conversions, Anglo File has learned. The organization's founder asserts "back room" talks convinced him such outside pressure would give rabbinate leaders the impetus to address the issue on its own."
"Chief rabbi: Israeli conversion certificates valid for marriage" (Jerusalem Post) 12-08-2009
"In an unusual departure from the ultra-Orthodox stance, Israel's Ashkenazi chief rabbi has declared that anyone holding a conversion certificate issued by the State of Israel can register to be married in his place of residence. Yona Metzger's declaration, contained in a letter to the Knesset's Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, comes on the heels of converts' complaints that local rabbis were refusing to recognize them as Jews according to Jewish law and to register them for marriage."