Saturday, April 3, 2010

75b Kusim - Geirus shelo lishma

I know I said I would not discuss geirus issues, but I can't help myself. Here are 2 Geirus things:

1) The following clip (in Yiddish with English subtitles) has a hilarious example of converting for an ulterior motive. It's not for a job or to marry a Jewish person.

2) Addendum A in So Strange My Path: The story of a former Catholic Priest, by Abraham Carmel (the former Father Kenneth C. Cox), published by MBY Foundation, 1960 has some very intersting facts about Conversions in England in 1959(!). It is eerie how much of it applies today. This selection is extracted "from David Pela's article "The Chief Rabbi's Court", which appeared in the Jewish Chronicle, London, July 10, 1959."

"Probably the most difficult problem facing the Beth proselytisation. In many cases the applicant is married, or is about to marry a Jew who is anxious for the sake of the children or parents, to secure the admission of his non-Jewish partner into Judaism. The Beth Din is frankly alarmed at the high incidence of intermarriage, and applicants for conversion are automatically discouraged. (The current rate of intermarriage is unknown, but in 1953 was estimated to be between ten and twelve per cent. The figure for the provinces are believed to be particularly high.) What is certain is that the number of applications for proselytization [unsure why a z here and an s in first sentence -ShasDaf] have increased in the past three years. Applications in 1958 totalled 137 (of whom 21 were admitted) and in 1957 they were 121 (9 admitted) and the previous year 120 (23 admitted)....

"What is the Beth Din's attitude to these application? This is what the Chief Rabbi says: 'We are slow in dealing with these cases. Not many are admitted. We must be sure of their moral and social bona fides before dealing with the religious situation. We must be sure the applicant is one who really wants to become a Jew. We do not close the door, but we accept only those who convince us that they will genuinely adhere to Judaism. There has been no change in policy in recent years. We handle each application with care and a great sense of responsibility. We must think in terms of the kehilla (community).' In general, according to the Beth Din, there is a big gap between the Court's requirements and applicants. In most cases, it says, there is no genuine desire for conversion, and, in this connection, the Dayanim (5 'Eccleciastical Assesors' to the Chief Rabbi) emphasize that where mixed marriages break down the proselyte partner almost invariably abandons Judaism.

"But the Beth Din insists that it treats each case on its merits and hears every applicant (last year 315 interviews were granted in proselytization cases...Special consideration, say the Dayanim, is given to children of mixed marriages, and they claim, the Court goes out of its way to help these youngsters. If it is satisfied that such children are brought up in an Orthodox atmosphere it will give them priority....But as has been indicated, the Beth Din is strongly against proselytization. They regard this and intermarriage as among the great Jewish social problems of our time. Their attitude is: 'If the community will not support us on this issue, it will undermine all the Jewish communities in Europe, where the situation - regarding intermarriage - is much worse. The community is not aware of the gravity of the problem....We are not too rigid....Intermarriage is the greatest evil. Who gains from encouraging it? Frequently the parents of both partners are against it. The marriages often break down because the partners come from different religions.'"

I searched and searched for the original of this article, and the best I came up with was searching for the keyword "proselytisation" for the year 1959. Here is a partial screenshot:

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