May 5, 2004
A Report of the Geirus Commission to the RCA Convention
Rabbi Solomon F. Rybak, Chairman
May 5th 2004
The Geirus Commission of the RCA maintains guidelines for its regional Batei Din L’Giyur to follow when preparing individuals for conversion. Rabbis adhering to these requirements may apply for an ishur from the Beth Din of America which, if issued, will be recognized worldwide as a valid conversion.
To facilitate the work of the Geirus Commission, our members who have constituted, or seek to constitute, a regional Bet Din L’Giyur under the auspices of the Geirus Commission of the RCA, are herewith requested to seek preauthorization for any contemplated conversion from the Geirus Commission. A letter detailing the background of the prospective convert, manner of instruction, level of observance, names of the rabbis who will officiate, the location of the mikveh and any other relevant information should be forwarded to the Geirus Commission.
Upon completion of the conversion, a letter by the member rabbis of such regional Bet Din L’Giyur attesting to full compliance with all the guidelines and any additional requests which were made by the Geirus Commission should be submitted together with the te’udat giyur to the Beth Din of America, if you wish to request an ishur. These items will be necessary for the Beth Din to consider when issuing an ishur.
Addendum to the Geirus Commission Report
From: Rabbi Seth Farber, ITIM: The Jewish Life Information Center
To: The Members of the Rabbinical Council of America
During the last six months, the Interior Ministry of Israel (misrad hapnim) has begun enforcing a new regulation that directly affects conversions from overseas. According to this new regulation, anyone undergoing a conversion outside of Israel must live within the Jewish community in which the conversion was performed for a full year before being eligible for aliya under the law of return (chok hashvut). Though the Israeli Batei Din will accept conversions performed under the auspices of the RCA Geirus Commission and approved by a recognized Bet Din such as the Beth Din of America for purposes of marriage, these conversions are ineffective as relates to Israeli citizenship.
ITIM has begun a public campaign to encourage the government to reconsider its position. During the last weeks, a set of articles appeared in Ma’ariv and Ha’aretz highlighting individuals who are accepted as Jews by the Batei Din but not by the State. The Attorney General’s office has now become involved and in all likelihood, this matter will reach the Supreme Court of Israel during the coming months. In the meantime, I encourage you to inform potential converts of these facts: If they plan to move to Israel immediately following conversion, their application for formal aliya will almost definitely be rejected. If you have any questions related to this matter, please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the ITIM website, www.itim.org.il.