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EJF Has is Problematic Geirus Training Program

EJF Has is Problematic Geirus Training Program

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Published by yadmoshe

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Published by: yadmoshe on Jan 15, 2010
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01/14/2010

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Is there still a need for EJF?
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An insider’s perspective
After being a mentor for some time with The Eternal Jewish Family and witnessingfirst hand its many serious flaws, the question is what do we need such an organizationthat dilutes the very framework of halachah that has guided the Jewish people for thelast two thousand years?My first assignment was to work with an intermarried couple, where the non-Jewishhusband was enthusiastic about committing to Judaism and learning what it means to become a Jew. His Jewish spouse was less than enthusiastic and cold about the wholeidea. As I was approached by Rabbi Jacobs to speak to this family, I asked him point blank, how can you even think about working with this man if his wife is notsupportive and want nothing really to do with Judaism?Not only that, from a halachic perspective, what was I allowed to teach this man if his wife was not yet on board? Jewish history? A little bit of Hebrew? Gematrias?As I posed this question to Rabbi Jacobs, he did acknowledge that this certainly wasnot lechatchila to work with such a family, but he wanted to see where it would go.After all the conferences all over the world and world-class Rabbanim and RoshYeshivos who took part, who paskened such a question that this was permissible?Another glaring question that I asked as I started my work for them was: is there aShulchan Aruch or a standard that you use when deciding which families to take, whonot to take?What about the curriculum? Was there even a syllabus? Who are the tutors that areused, how are tutors qualified? What education is given, if any at all, to the Jewish partner?After all, doesn’t the Jewish partner have to have the same commitment andknowledge as the non-Jewish partner who wants to convert? Is there a rav in any of these communities who gives these people guidance and if so, how much contact doesEJF have with them?To illustrate the chaos in this organization, I want to tell the following story. My wifeand I worked with a certain couple. We were giving them classes for more than a year and then they were ready to go in front of the beis din. The shabbos before theconversion, they came to our house and we met them for the first time.The family was very nice. Definitely committed to the ideals of a Torah way of life.Their kids were in a local day school in their community and quite frankly, we werevery proud of the work we had done with them.When they were in the middle of their conversion with the beis din, we received acall to verify their seriousness and commitment to Judaism. We had only met them that1
 
shabbos but were in close contact with them over the year and were able to see and hear about their progress and what spiritual direction they were headed.The beis din was happy with our recommendation and based on our final say,finished the conversion. What about the community in which they lived? Wasn’t thereany rabbinical figure there that they had worked with that could have verified theinformation that the beis din required? What verification was there of their Shabbos,Yom Tov experience? After this episode, I again mentioned to Rabbi Jacobs, how could it be, that after more than a year of working with EJF that they were not in contact with any rabbinicalfigure in their area that could tell how they were progressing and what they weredoing?Even if the families that EJF works with are serious minded and committed to anOrthodox lifestyle, who is guiding these people in their own communities? Is it enough just for the mentors to speak to them on the phone?This leads to another question. Who are these mentors? I asked Rabbi Jacobs manytimes who they used as mentors and how he qualified them as good mentors. I never got an answer on that even though I heard that they use fine people. After all, eventhough EJF is an organization under the umbrella of Rabbi Tropper’s Baal TeshuvahYeshivah, Kol Yaakov, is conversion really the same thing as kiruv?Do we want kiruv people or even baalei batim working with these people without anyspecial training? There were no qualifying criteria for being a mentor for thisorganization. Period. Not only that, they gave the Jewish spouse only an hour a week tolearn with someone from Partners in Torah.There are two mentors that I knew of that mentored for EJF. Both have had vastexperience in working with converts and baalei teshuvah. After speaking to these twoindividuals at great length over the years, I came to the obvious conclusion thatalthough they may be well-versed in kiruv and geirus, there was one thing that stoodout from their resumes. Neither possessed any daas Torah whatsoever. How do I know this? First of all, theydon’t mention anybody on their resumes about it, for one. I also know these twoindividuals in another capacity whereby both are moderators of an online group thathelps people in the process of conversion.These prospective converts have a place to go, so to speak where they can ask their questions, get reading material and listen to the stories of others in the same process.These moderators see the questions come, and either allow them to go in or reject them.The all important question you may ask is where is the rabbinic advisory board thatoversees the questions that are asked and what is allowed or disallowed. As I sat indisbelief a number of times from these two individuals were that they did not have arabbinical board or had any desire sending questions to Rabbanim because they wereafraid it would turn off perspective people interested in the group.2

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