I have to give it to the Sephardim…they are much more realistic and much more pragmatic about some issues. 

To give a little background, there is currently a big, brewing controversy in Israel and in Judaism as a whole with regards to conversion.  It seems that a rabbinic court in Ashdod issued a ruling that essentially nullified the conversion of a woman who had converted to Judaism 15 years previously.  She converted under the supervision of Rabbi Chaim Druckman who is currently (at least until June) the head of the Israeli Conversion Authority that was set up by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.  Anyway, a panel of judges from the High Rabbinical Court (of which the current Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Shlomo Amar is president) has now issued a ruling that all conversions conducted by Rabbi Druckman were to be questioned and possibly nullified.  This throws thousands of people who were converted under Rabbi Druckman through the Conversion Authority into a limbo — and not just them but also their children. 

Now, Rabbi Amar has promised that he would nullify this ruling — which, as far as I know, he hasn’t done yet.  The High Rabbinical Court is apparently packed with Chareidi rabbis who seem to believe that if a person converts to Judaism and then years down the road “goes off the path” then their conversion is invalid from the beginning and therefore can be retroactively nullified.  I, personally, cannot understand how they can make such a decision but the impact can be devastating.

I was, however, sent a link to the this post that gives a Sephardi perspective on this whole issue and on how the mainstream Sephardi see converts.  It’s very interesting that the rabbis on the High Rabbinical Court can feel that if someone converts and then years later relaxes in their observance or loses their faith that therefore the convert was insincere from the beginning and that their conversion was not valid.  I wonder how they can make such a broad decision that future actions (even actions many years down the road) can determine whether a convert is sincere in their conversion at the time of the conversion.   I especially liked the opinion by a former Sephardi Chief Rabbi, Benzion Uziel, who said

The Beit Din does not need to know whether he will observe them. Otherwise you would close the door on all conversion, since we can never know what he will do. From this it is clear that conversion is not dependent on any future observance.
“The Sephardi Perspective: It is time to decide”

I think that says it all.  You cannot predicate a person’s behavior today on what they may do tomorrow.  Unfortunately the panel of rabbinical judges from the High Rabbinical Court do not seem to see this possibility. 

Another issue that concerns me greatly is that the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) has invited the Israeli rabbinate to start “overseeing” the conversions that are conducted by the RCA.  They have decided to create regional rabbinic conversion courts that would be staffed by rabbis approved by the Israeli rabbinate and they would be the only ones whose conversions would be recognized by the Israeli rabbinate.  I think that the RCA has made a major mistake in this regard and have signed away alot of their leverage with the Israeli rabbinate who can now choose the most strict Chareidi rabbis to be on these courts.  This will cause significant problems down the road that have yet to be foreseen. 

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