Jan 6, 2009
As it completes its first year in operation, the network of Orthodox rabbinical courts for conversion known as the GPS Conversion Network, under the joint auspices of the Rabbinical Council of America and the Beth Din of America has recently passed a number of noteworthy milestones.
At its inception the GPS network was the subject of significant communal interest and discussion. Since that time the network has received wide rabbinic recognition around the Jewish world, including rabbinic authorities in Israel. It has added new rabbinical courts - all functioning consistently and uniformly following the standards and policies of the GPS network, while dealing with candidates for conversion with sensitivity and dignity. The network has certified as part of the network many additional rabbinical court judges who are recognized world-wide, and has held conferences for rabbinical court judges.
As a result, since its inception, more than 120 converts have duly completed the conversion process (many having begun the process with their respective batei din prior to the launch of the network.) Currently about 140 conversion candidates are in various stages of the conversion process. For the benefit of future generations, a comprehensive database has been created, so as to maintain reliable permanent records to be consulted if and as needed.
Most recently, the network established its official website at www.judaismconversion.org
. The site assists potential converts and the rabbis to whom they turn, by providing helpful information and resources relating to conversion in general and the GPS network in particular.
Looking to the future, there are ongoing discussions with rabbinic leaders in various communities with a view to establishing additional GPS rabbinical courts, as appropriate, and certifying their respective judges. And as the workload of the current rabbinical courts continues to expand, additional qualifying judges will be added as needed in due course.
Separate and apart from conversions being performed through the GPS network, assistance continues to be provided, when requested, and to the extent possible, to those individuals and families whose conversions took place prior to the creation of GPS, so as to facilitate confirmation of their Jewish status.
Rabbi Barry Freundel, chairman of the GPS Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America, in describing progress to date, stated "While the GPS system is a work in progress, with much remaining to be done, we are most pleased with the record of accomplishment to date, in fulfillment of Torah's obligations to 'love the convert' – with respect, sensitivity, and a reasonable assurance of broad acceptance. GPS can serve as a model of communal cooperation and effectiveness."