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Frum Family of 50 Discovers They Are Not Jewish

For many years, the Rebbe made a tumult about the importance of ‘Mihu Yehudi’ in Eretz Yisroel, warning that by recognizing non-Halachic giyur, the Israeli government was undermining the very fabric of the Jewish people. Today, the clear result of these actions was on full display in the Israeli media: a large extended family of G-d-fearing Orthodox Jews discovered to their horror that they are not Halachically Jewish.

From Yeshiva World News:

A student in a chareidi seminary recently entered the Chief Rabbinate system as she is planning to get married. In line with standard procedure, she had to bring paperwork to validate being Jewish. She brought papers testifying to her mother’s conversion in the 1960s. The giyur was carried out by a rabbi who is not recognized by the Chief Rabbinate. She has since learned that fifty family members are not Jewish and they must now undergo giyur.

The young lady went to the Rabbanut in Netanya. She explained to officials in the Rabbanut that she does not understand why they are questioning her to prove she is Jewish since her older sisters and brother have already married in Israel, hence proving her Jewishness. It was determined her mom converted prior to being married to their father.

The rabbonim set a hearing for the young lady the following day. Rabbi Alon Arbiv took the case to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel in the hope of receiving a determination regarding the giyur of the mother. Rabbi Arbiv learned the Chief Rabbinate of Israel does not recognize the giyur of the mother.

The Netanya Rabbanut was shocked to learn the Chief Rabbinate does not recognize the Jewishness of the seminary student. It has since been learned that 50 family members are viewed as non-Jews by the Chief Rabbinate.

The seminary student was immediately classified as ineligible to wed until she undergoes conversion. It is explained the heter for her siblings to get married was an error and they and their children are not Jews in the eyes of the Chief Rabbinate. It was immediately obvious to all involved the results of case were widespread and disastrous.

The Chief Rabbinate was restless regarding the case, issuing an extremely detailed ruling in which the mother was permitted and therefore, the family. The court arranged for all of the children in the family to go to mikve on the same day, quietly and behind the scenes, taking extraordinary measures to protect the dignity of all involved.

60 Comments

  • 1. Anonymous wrote:

    “The Chief Rabbinate was restless regarding the case, issuing an extremely detailed ruling in which the mother was permitted and therefore, the family.”

    This sentence makes no sense.Please clarify.

  • 2. What was the name of the rabbi? wrote:

    Who did the original conversion? What reason was given for finding the conversion invalid? Did they do any research to ascertain the identity of the rabbi, or did they just decide that since they don’t recognize his name, the conversion must be invalid?

    • 3. Milhouse wrote:

      That’s exactly it. They seem to have done no research, and just taken the easy (for them) road of passeling the giyur because the beis din wasn’t on their list.

  • 4. Milhouse wrote:

    Garbage. This is the very opposite of what the Rebbe was worried about. This is a 100% Jewish family being made to go through a charade of “giyur lechumra” because some lazy clerk in a government office couldn’t be bothered to investigate whether the beis din that did the original giyur was kosher. There is no reason to believe that it wasn’t, but the arrogantIsraeli Rabbanut has the chutzpah to say that if we don’t know about a rov then we assume he’s not a kosher yid and his giyurim are not kosher.

    On what possible basis can the Rabbanut make such an assumption? Who made them king? The Knesset?! How do we know Rabbanut giyurim are kosher? Maybe I don’t recognise the Rabbanut and will make their gerim go through “giyur lechumra”. Except that there’s an issur de’oraisa of אונאת הגר, and casting doubt on someone’s giyur without a solid reason is surely אונאה. These people are playing with fire.

    They go to the ends of the earth to be matir an agunah, and they’re right to do so. So why can’t they do the same here?

    • 6. K wrote:

      There is a majority / “rov” rabbis that are unqualified to do geirus.

      As such we follow the halacha: a piece of meat is found in a city that 9 stores sell no-kosher meat and only one store sells kosher meat, we assume that the found meat is unkosher.

    • 7. Milhouse wrote:

      K, your claim is without any basis in fact. How do you know such a rov exists? Where are your statistics? On the contrary, we have a rule that לא חיישינן לב״ד טועים, and ב״ד אחר ב״ד לא דייקי, and רוב המצויין אצל דינים מומחין הם.

    • 9. YMSP wrote:

      Exactly. And this farce of a religious body is the biggest threat to Judaism, by desecrating halacha in the eyes of all who don’t know better. It’s a mitzvah gedolah to stop them.

    • 10. K wrote:

      Do the math:

      There are many more Reform and Conservative “rabbis” then Orthodox.

      Even among the Orthodox, there is a significant number who are totally unqualified to do geirus.

      This leaves a miyut of qualified battei dinim.

      If someone unknown comes before us with a geirus, kol d’porish, we MUST assue it was an unqualified bais din, because miruba porish.

    • 11. Milhouse wrote:

      K, you have no idea what you’re talking about. First of all, what have non-Orthodox clergymen go to do with the topic? They don’t do Orthodox conversions. And the majority of Orthodox yoreh-yorehs, or rav-umanhigs, who don’t know hilchos geirus don’t do it, just as those who aren’t qualified to do gittin, or to shecht, don’t do those things. The rule is that anyone who does do these things is presumed to be competent at them. That is a rule in halacha, which neither you nor the Israeli Rabbanut has the right to ignore.

    • 12. K wrote:

      You wrote: ” The rule is that anyone who does do these things is presumed to be competent at them. ”

      That was true in yesteryears, when rabbonim knew and accepted their level of competency.

      Today, even CHabad Shluchim (who have good intentions) suddenly feel competent to rule on halacha issues in which they are clueless.

      Examples, some Chabad Shluchim used their “rabbinical” positions to support the Kosher Switch. I won’t name names but this is a public fact!

      Many Chabad Shluchim conduct chuppah and kiddushin, but the majority of them never opened an Even HaEzer Shulchan Oruch (and for those who are unaware, there is no “Alter Rebbe Shulchon Oruch” on Hilchos Kiddushin).

      I am not suggesting that the LItvish world has no similar problems. There are some “Rabbis” who do geirus for the money – yet never had shimush in this area.

      Indeed, the majority of rabbonim are NOT qualified to do geirus.

      Then there are Rabbinical Associations which include among themselves Conservative. Then there are the Chovivei Torah people. Then there are the RCA. Then the ModOrthodox who “play” with halacha…

      Is it no wonder that the Rabbanut assume that a geirus is possul unless proven to be from the MIYUT that are kosher?!

    • 13. Milhouse wrote:

      “That was true in yesteryears”

      Neither you nor the rabbanut have the power to change the presumptions that guide halacha. Especially without any statistics to back you up, but only your own prejudices.

      And especially when there is no “safe chumra”, since if the person is indeed a ger then it is an issur de’oraisa to cast doubt on his status and make him do another giyur “lechumra”. If there is a genuine safek then we have no choice, and must beg his indulgence; but to do it just because “it can’t do any harm” is wrong, because it does harm, it’s an issur de’oraisa.

    • 14. Milhouse wrote:

      “Many Chabad Shluchim conduct chuppah and kiddushin, but the majority of them never opened an Even HaEzer Shulchan Oruch”

      Most rabbonim (Lubav or not) who are mesader kidushin have never learned the topic in depth, but they’ve certainly studied the practical guides for rabbonim that outline all the things they need to check, and when to ask a shayla. I don’t believe there’s a shliach who is mesader kidushin without having at least read through a guide book such as Farkash’s “Seder Kiddushin Venisu’in”, which is very thorough in the basics, and gives the final psak and the minhag, without presenting all the machlokesin and opinions we don’t follow. I certainly don’t beleive there is one who would marry a cohen to a grusha!

    • 15. Anonymous wrote:

      Milhouse,
      If you are G-d fearing, and not in the same category as the family in question, you should retract your statement. Your comments trivialize the epidemic of what’s happening to the Jewish people in Eretz Yisroel and the diaspora. This matter has placed our people in spiritual and physical danger. Would you make the same comment about the thousands of gentiles who left Russia with their Jewish spouses and only too readily received Istaeli citizens as “Jews”? If you’re going to respond please quote a reliable source to support your argument.

  • 17. Thinkster wrote:

    The father of the family was heard shortly thereafter saying “KFC, here we come baby!”

  • 18. CHT wrote:

    And since all of them went to the mikveh many times already. Scrach that: mothers went to 100% kosher mikveh before, that is what most important that could have reduce widespread … but may be does not count without kavone

    • 19. Milhouse wrote:

      Going to a mikveh doesn’t make you a ger. Giyur requires milah (for men), tevilah, and kabolas ol mitzvos, all to be done in front of a beis din made up of of three Jewish men who are not apikorsim (i.e. no C or R clergymen). The gemoro מי לא טבלה לנידתה doesn’t mean that these tevilos should count for giyur, but that her doing so proves that she did convert, because if she didn’t then why would she bother going to mikveh now?

    • 20. Yehudis wrote:

      Ger chassidim go to the Mikveh MORNING then Lubavitchers thank you very much.

    • 22. Yehudis wrote:

      Rabbi Milhous your saying that gerereh chassidim go to the Mikveh less the the lubavitchers and that is sinas chinom thank you very much that will hold up biyas moshiach when yehudim fight with each other in our time :(

  • 24. non-gender wrote:

    when will they ever learn? the answer is blowing in the wind

  • 25. The Schwartz Family wrote:

    Something strange with the whole story, who leaked it and for what purpose?

  • 26. comment 6 wrote:

    Dont think mikve for conversion counts without intent for conversion – not sure though – I’ll leave that for the experts

  • 28. who are you kidding? wrote:

    very strange & puzzling indeed one would also think that since they are over Bar & bat Mitzvah & have been Shomer torah & Mitzvos for years or their lifetime that it would count. they have been to Mikvah The boys presumably had a Kosher Bris etc. It would seem arrogance is at play here as well as power

    • 29. Milhouse wrote:

      If there was no kosher giyur then no amount of being shomer mitzvos would count. But the real question is why they would bother keeping mitzvos for all those years, if there was no kosher giyur. The fact that they did should be evidence that there was one, unless there is clear evidence against it.

      For instance, if we were to know that the rov who oversaw the giyur was an apikores, or was himself not a Jew, then we would have no choice but to disregard the giyur, and reconvert the whole family. I have no objection to that. My objection is that in this case there doesn’t seem to have been any reason to believe that there was anything wrong with the original giyur. The Rabbanut simply had no information. And in such a case it seems to me that the gemoro of מי לא טבלה לנידתה implies that we should assume the giyur was good.

  • 30. BIG problem in CH wrote:

    NOBODY checks Kesubot to see if the couple is halachically Jewish. Not one of my children had to bring proof that we are Jewish & when we married off our first child and asked, the Rav looked at us as though we were crazy. Compare that to the UK, where any couple wishing to marry in an Orthodox shul MUST provide their mothers’ kesubot. With respect, there are many people flocking both to US & Israel from the former Soviet Union – how do we know they really are Jewish if no one checks?

    • 31. Milhouse wrote:

      There is no need to check, because there is a presumption that anyone living in a Jewish community, and behaving like a Jew, is Jewish. The procedures you refer to were made for those who do not live a Jewish life in a Jewish community.

    • 32. Yehudis wrote:

      Making presumptions about other Yiddin is wrong thank you very much.

    • 33. Milhouse wrote:

      Yehudis, you have no idea what you are talking about. Not only is making presumptions about other people not wrong, the Torah says it is right and requires us to do so. The politically correct idea that it’s wrong to make presumptions is literally insane, as in anyone who really follows that advice belongs in an asylum. But nobody really does, the PC crowd just pretend to.

    • 34. Jacqui wrote:

      When my brother married an Israeli girl in the 1970s in Israel, he did have to provide my parent’s Ketuba and a letter from our Rabbi.

  • 35. BIG problem in CH wrote:

    And another thing – that happened to a family my father knew & they reached out to him, as an Askan, to help. Mom was “converted” in Europe after the war by some charlatan, rubber stamping Rabbi & when the bride brought her mother’s Ketuba to the Rav, he recognized the name of the “Rabbi.” The couple ran away & threatened suicide & my father managed to get the BD to do a quickie geirus on the kallah (who was raised quite observant.) The wedding took place as planned ….and ironically, those parents never spoke to MY parents again! No good deed goes unpunished, I guess! :)

  • 36. ymg to 3; 5 wrote:

    To 3: why should you be so arrogant as to have the supremacy over a body of halachic experts in the field of conversion? What gives you the right to assume a greater viewpoint than theirs?

    To 5: if to KFC he goes, then it would vouch for the invalidity of their conversion.

    I was doing tefillin mivtzoyim at the motel when a group of Americans showed up. The one young man, whose mother converted reform many years prior, had never put on tefillin, and when I heard that, while the tefillin was on just before the berocho, and he told me about his mom’s reform conversion, I took off the tefillin and explain to him that he’s not Jewish. Surprise! He didn’t know Jack about yiddishkeit. Proof is in the practice.

    • 37. Milhouse wrote:

      The Rabbanut is not “a body of halachic experts”, it’s a body of arrogant government bureaucrats that thinks it’s the Sanhedrin in Lishkas Hagozis.

    • 38. K wrote:

      The halochos of kashering are in Orach Chaim (Hilchos Pessach). It is covered by the Mishne Brurara. No need for smicha on Yoreh Deyha to kasher a kitchen. But need to know BASIC halachos which every ben-torah should know. Unfortunately, he didn’t! (Example: The Chabad House Rabbi did not know that you can’t Kasher a frying pan with boiling water – hagalah!!! I needed to re-do much of his “kashering”).

    • 39. Milhouse wrote:

      If he really didn’t know that, it’s not good, but I don’t believe you that he didn’t know that. And if you managed to find one person like that, he’s definitely an exception, not the norm.

  • 40. A fellow proud convert wrote:

    For a woman to convert she must go to the mikveh and have a bais din of three shomer Shabbos men. After that she is responsible to keep mitzvahs. If there is a question about her Jewishness, of course she would be hurt and insulted, but everyone who “would be” affected can go to the mikveh and go before a bais din to ensure their Jewishness. Not really the public’s business.

  • 42. jody salstein wrote:

    When I met the great Rebbe I asked him if my father a non. Jew would be there for the Messiah and he told me that All people that practice goodness will be there.I don’t think that the 50 people would have any problem.

    • 43. Milhouse wrote:

      What has that got to do with it? Either they’re Jewish or they’re not.

  • 44. Chabad Rov wrote:

    Recently, a shliach married off an Israeli couple outside Israel. The man was Cohen and the woman was a divorcee.
    When they came to Israel the Rabanut asked them about this, upon which the couple referred the rabbanut to this shliach. When the rabbanut contacted this Shliach, he told them that he was under the impression that this Halocho only applied in the time of the Beis hamikdash!!
    Just because someone has Semicha and might be a Yiras Shamayim, does not qualify him to do Gittin, Kidushin or Geirus etc.
    You have to know what you are doing. And exactly because of the fact that people to these things anyways, the Rabbanut has to be carefull.

    • 45. Milhouse wrote:

      If he’s such an am ho’oretz one has to wonder what else he’s doing.

    • 46. K wrote:

      This is a know concern among the Yeshiva World. Many shluchim who have “smicha” know less then an average ben-torah.

    • 47. Milhouse wrote:

      Garbage. The average “ben torah” in your world can’t even learn a blatt gemoro without Artscroll or some equivalent. For a shliach to be mesader kidushin without knowing the basic halochos is extremely rare, so rare that I doubt this story ever happened. It’s far more likely that “chabad rov” made it up (and is anything but a chabad rov).

    • 48. K wrote:

      I know of a “Chabad House Rabbi” who kashered a house of a relative of mine. When I visited and was told of how he kashered the kitchen, I rolled up my sleeves and re-did it. What was done by the “Rabbi” was not kashered according to halacha!

      Mind you I do not have “smicha” for rabbonus – but am a ben-torah.

    • 49. Milhouse wrote:

      And I don’t believe you knew the laws of kashering better than him.

    • 50. Milhouse wrote:

      Of course sometimes people make mistakes, even if they do know the halochos. I remember once talking to a well-known rov, and he spoke about a chupah he’d made that week, and as he was recounting the event he suddenly realised that the eidim’s wives were sisters! He knew the halacha, it just hadn’t occurred to him at the time. Of course he immediately called a posek and received instructions on what to do. (The posek said to make a new kesubah, and if it wouldn’t freak them out then they should also do a new kiddushin but if it would freak them out then bedieved it wasn’t necessary.)

  • 51. logic wrote:

    THAT DOESNT MAKE ANY SENSE, IF THE CHILDREN HAD A PUBLIC BRIS MILAH AND I’M SURE THERE WERE A MINYAN OF MEN THERE- THAT ISNT GOOD ENOUGH?
    WHAT ARE SAYING FOLKS, THAT A MILAH DONE IN A SHUL WITH A MOYEL AND A MINYAN ISNT ENOUGH, ?
    THAT’S NEEDLESS PAIN AND HUMILATION TO PUT A GROUP OF PRACTICING JEWISH MEN THROUGH AS WELL AS WOMEN.
    This is ridiculous.

    • 52. Milhouse wrote:

      That’s right. A public bris milah is not enough for giyur.

  • 53. logic again wrote:

    disappointed in the way this was handled, more effort should have been made to find a heter or information about the Rabbi that did the conversions.
    It really seems like they didn’t want to be bothered doing their jobs properly.
    I’d hate to be the one responsible for not looking hard enough and causing such horrible embarrassment to all those people. Hope he or she can sleep comfortably at night.

  • 54. to #14 wrote:

    When my children married in Crown Heights, Rav Schwei asked about my background (born Jewish) and also how I know my mother is Jewish (She was also born Jewish).

  • 55. Chief Rabbinate wrote:

    I think the problem is that the chief Rabbinate does not recognize the conversions done by some orhodox Rabbis. I know of people who had orthodox conversions or the sake of marriage and adoptees converted or members of orthodox shuls who are not shomrei Shabbos.Maybe the Rabbinate should print a list of Rabbis they find acceptable so others do not have the same problem.

    • 56. Milhouse wrote:

      They have such a list, and presumably this rov wasn’t on it. The problem is that they have no halachic right to assume that just because a rov isn’t on their list his giyurim are no good.

  • 57. shojet wrote:

    midakdikin beicho, umizalzelin bikrias shema.
    kol sheeino yodea bitiv gittin ukedushin,loi yehei eisek imohem.
    if you do not know the laws of divorce and maridge and for that any laws that you have not received proper shimush,STAY AWAY!

    • 58. Milhouse wrote:

      Exactly. And the corollary is that those who do occupy themselves in these laws are presumed to know them. רוב המצויין אצל דינים מומחין הם

  • 59. Hillel wrote:

    This whole piece is exaggerated. 50 ppl have to go to mikveh because of an uncertain conversion. That’s the whole story from start to finish.

  • 60. Catherine wrote:

    Being a Noahide and having no right to say anything in such matters, I still find it appalling that this family was not considered Jewish. I am also glad that a resolution was found. May HaShem send Mashiach soon, rebuild the Holy Temple and may the Torah go forth from Zion forever.

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