Newly uncovered information is again raising concerns regarding giyur arrangements, both government-sponsored and in the IDF. A comprehensive, long-term study of the Conversion Institutes, at locatio around the country, shows that most of the so-called converts never had any intention of undertaking Torah observance. Many even reported playing a part for appearance sake and living a dual existence until obtaining their conversion certificate.
The results of the study were published in Megilat Gerut, a book recently released ostensibly to help the conversion programs by presenting the real facts, showing that the declared purpose of the system is to ease the demands on prospective converts. The book includes extensive interviews, conducted by a woman who has taught at the Conversion Institutes for 20 years, with female conversion candidates from around the country who underwent government-sponsored conversion. The in-depth investigation reveals that only a small percentage of these converts described themselves as observant, while the vast majority admitted they never intended to keep mitzvas and were “part of a system that has a whole lot of hypocrisy, and the pretenses continued at the home of the host family and in the beit din…the moment you leave the beit din you resume your normal life.”
Other women recounted living two separate lives. “Most of the people who come out of the Conversion Institutes are not religious; everyone is acting.”
The revelations add further credence to the failure of the special conversion courts, where most conversion candidates never planned to keep Torah and mitzvas – a situation that is even more acute in the IDF conversion apparatus.
According to Vaad HaRabbonim Haolami LeInyonei Giyur, founded by the late Rav Chaim Kreiswirth zt”l, a lot of confusion now surrounds the government conversion system following various brow-raising announcements by certain “rabbis.”
Vaad HaRabbonim Haolami also noted that on 20 Sivan 5770, Atty. Shimon Ulman, the Chief Rabbinate’s legal adviser, issued clear instructions regarding an individual who registers for marriage after receiving a religious conversion certificate. “The rabbi serving as marriage registrar is authorized, if a serious doubt arises regarding the validity of the conversion, to refer the matter for clarification to the regional rabbinical court, with a special bench whose dayonim are to be determined by the president of the Supreme Rabbinical Court. The marriage registrar will [then] act in accordance with the final ruling given by the rabbinical court following the clarification.”
In light of these instructions, it remains unclear how the Chief Rabbinate recently appointed four marriage registrars to take in all of the converts both from the IDF conversion program and the special conversion courts, after prominent city rabbis voiced serious doubts regarding the validity of their “conversions.” According to the halachic and legal procedure, the regional rabbinical courts must decide the matter and determine their final status.
“The appointments of the new marriage registrars, who are a part of the defective conversion system, bypass an unambiguous halacha articulated by the leading poskim in 5744 , that it is strictly forbidden to accept a convert without conducting an inquiry, [otherwise the conversion is liable] to bring non-Jews into Kerem Beis Yisroel,” said a spokesman for Vaad HaRabbonim. “A convert who did not earnestly undertake Torah and mitzvas at the time of the conversion is a non-Jew in every respect. The Chief Rabbinate must stand firm at the watch and reach the proper conclusions based on the deplorable figures in the conversion system, and only set up a limited conversion system made up of a established, highly regarded botei din.”