We need to welcome the “Jews by Choice”–not repel them!

I must confess. For decades now, I have never been a fan of the  London Beth Din. I have felt this way ever since they invalidated Rabbi Shlomo Goren’s conversion back in the 1980s.  Well, recently, the London Beit Din has earned my respect again–not because I believe in their halachic positions on “Who is a Jew?” but because they put  Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet of Mill Hill Synagogue, chairman of the US [i.e., United Synagogue] Rabbinical Council, in his rightful place. Now, Schochet proposed the suspension a moratorium on all  conversions within the Orthodox world community.

What a bad idea!

Fortunately, the London Beth Din rejected Schochet’s novelty, saying that his comments  does not reflect the London Beit Din’s  “principles, policies or intended plans.”

Right on!

And the court went on to say, “As dayanim charged with the task of administering and overseeing the conversion process on behalf of Anglo-Jewry, we feel privileged to be involved in this vital and spiritual process. Righteous converts have made important contributions to our community and Anglo-Jewry is greatly enriched by their presence within our communities.”

Ditto. I could not have said it any better myself.

We need to welcome the “Jews by Choice”–not repel them! Perhaps this is the one issue all denominations of Judaism can agree on. We may disagree on the method and procedure of welcoming them, but we can ill-afford to follow Rabbi Schneersons’ foolish follower in Great Britain who, unfortunately, reflects his movement’s deep animus and distrust toward converts. The late Rebbe was responsible for sowing the seeds of discord by insisting on a “giyur khalacha” standard–implying that there is only ONE way to interpret Halacha. Haredi leaders joined the Schneerson bandwagon and the Jewish world has been at odds within itself ever since. Thank you Rabbi Schneerson.

Since when in the last 1800 years has any rabbinic court ever ruled for Jewish communities everywhere in the world? Historically,  halacha has never been so myopic or narrow. Great scholars have always differed since the early days of the Pharisees, e.g., Hillel and Shammai. Revocation of conversions is expressly forbidden in Jewish law. The current “Who is a Jew?” issue as championed by the late Rebbe, continues to create discord at a time when Jewish leaders should be promoting unity.

While I believe there are some fine Chabad rabbis serving their communities with distinction, its organization needs to discard their leader’s attitudes that are contrary to Jewish ethics, halacha, and especially–Jewish history with respect to those who consciously choose Judaism as their spiritual path.