Volume 6 Number 59

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Anthony Fiorino]
Gerut - A bibliography on converson
         [Anthony Fiorino]
Kohen marrying a convert
         [Barry H. Rodin]
Laws of Mourning for Child of Intermarried Couple
         [Gedaliah Friedenberg]
Questions Re Converts
         [Janice Gelb]


From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Fri, 5 Mar 93 14:43:19 -0500
Subject: Re: Conversion

I would like to address some of the issues raised re: conversion:

Regarding tzniut, mikveh, and women, we had:

> Guess what.  We say women can't be witnesses, but the mikvah lady is
> functioning as the witness here.

The beit din must witness the immersion by a man or a woman.  There are
opinions that after the fact, if the entire beit din did not witness the
t'vilah, the conversion is still valid, provided that the kabbalat
hamitzvot [acceptance of the mitzvot] was in the presence of a beit din. 
This was discussed on the list a while back.

When I converted, I asked the beit din what they do in the case of a
woman, and they told me that the procedure is the same.  The convert-to-be
enters the mikveh, then the Rabbis enter the room.  The person is immersed
up to his or her neck, so one can't really see their body at all.  The
person immerses, the beit din witnesses that the immersion is proper, and
the person is a Jew.  The beit din leaves, allowing the convert to emerge
from the mikveh in private.

> >[...] is there any precedent (or justification) for a convert to be accorded
> >greater acceptance or respect based on which bais din did the conversion
> >(assuming all are recognized as Orthodox)?
> Seems to me that's pretty dangerous, making comparisons like that.  As
> long as the bais din was Orthodox enough for the conversion to be
> halachic, what's the point?

Nevertheless, there are issues here.  In order to make aliyah (under the
law of return), the state of Israel must insure that the person in
question is in fact Jewish.  I know that the RCA (Rabbinical Council of
America), and others, meet this criteria.  The implication is that others
do not.

In spite of the fact that we all know that the objective halachic reality
may be that there is no difference between one beit din and another, one
would be well advised to seek out a beit din which is representative of
the community with which one anticipates an affiliation.  Thus, one who
intends to be a Satmar chasid will have problems if they are converted by
an RCA beit din.  Sad, but true.  Kind of like kashrut . . . 

> > (5) What is the relationship, halachically, between a converted person
> > and his or her family?  Technically, are the parents still considered
> > parents?  This both for the purpose of, e.g., kibud av v'aim (honoring
> > father and mother -- responsibility for their upkeep and making sure
> > their needs are satisfied), and in colloquial usage are they permitted
> > to refer to their parents as such?
> Halachic gives no recognition to the relationship between
> a convert and his natural parents.  But then again, I don't
> believe halacha gives any recognition to the parental
> relationships of an unconverted gentiles, either.

I know the first statement here isn't true, and I really wonder abnout the
second, but I'll let someone else take that up.  The gemara in yevamot
(22a) says that a ger is like a newborn child, thus is considered to have
no legal relationship with his/her parents.  However, there is still a
recognition in some way that a person's  parents are still the people who
brought that person into the world.  Thus, Rav Ovadia Yosef allows gerim
to say kadish for deceased parents, and one is permitted to pray for them.
I too, in agreement with Freda's posting, have heard stories of gerim
sitting shiva.

Avi's commentary, regarding the concept that it should not be said that a
ger moved from a higher to a lower holiness upon converting, is absoultely
correct.  Thus, the ger still is required to honor his/her parents,
although the nature of that obligation may be different from that of a
born Jew towards his/her Jewish parents.  Furthermore, it is forbidden for
a brother and sister who convert to then marry each other, for the same

Eitan Fiorino


From: Anthony Fiorino <fiorino@...>
Date: Fri, 5 Mar 93 14:53:01 -0500
Subject: Gerut - A bibliography on converson

A bibliography on converson:

Cohen, J.S.  Intermarriage and Conversion.  Ktav: Hoboken, NJ (cat #
    --I have not read it, so I can't comment personally.  A proposed
      "solution" to these problems.  I gather it is a halachic analysis
      looking for common ground between Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform

Eichhorn, D.M., ed.  Conversion to Judaism: A History and Analysis.  Ktav:
Hoboken, NJ (cat # 8-019-6), 1965.
    --a historical perspective on conversion.  Interesting.  Its been
      several years since I read it, so I unfortunately don't remember
      much about it specifically.

Feldman, E. and Wolowelski, J.B., eds.  The Conversion Crisis: Essays from
the Pages of Tradition.  Ktav/RCA: Hoboken, NJ. 1990.
    --a collection of essays on conversion, mostly halachic in character. 
      Also contains a  beautiful essay, more philosophic in nature, by Rav
      Aharon Lichtenstein.

Fiorino, Anthony.  "One Soul's Adventure: Spiritual Growth Through Halacha" 
in Jewish Action (published by the O-U) vol 53 #2, winter 1992/93.
    --my personal experience as a ger, and the spiritual growth that has
      come from my conversion. [Seems like I recognize the author of
      this one from somewhere. But seriously, as they say, I read
      Eitan's article and I think it was excellent. Avi, yr Mod.]

Lamm, Maurice.  Becoming a Jew.  Jonathan David Publishers: Middle
Village, NY, 1991.
    --Contains a section on the experiences of (halachic) converts, in
      their own words, then an examination of the laws of conversion, then
      an examination of after the conversion--dealing with Jews, with one's
      family, holidays, etc.  Finally, a section on basic Jewish practice
      and belief.  A very complete practical book.

Lamm, Norman.  "Love of the Stranger," in The Good Society: Jewish Ethics
in Action.  N. Lamm, ed.  Viking Press: Ny, NY, 1974.
    --a series of excerts from the Rambam (t'shuvot and mishnah torah)
      with an  introduction by Rabbi Lamm.

Lubling, Aaron.  "Conversion in Jewish Law" in Journal of Halachah and
Contemporary Society #9
    --a halachic analysis.  Will point you to many of the relevent gemaras
      and dinim in the shulchan aruch and in contemporary t'shuvot.

Romanoff, Lisa.  Your People, My People.  Jewish Publication Society:
Phil, Pa, 1990.
    --a semi-sociological examination of the experiences of gerim. 
      Contains many quotes by and stories about converts.  Most of them,
      however, are not Orthodox.  I do not believe that the experience of
      a non-shomer halacha convert can be compared in any real way to that
      of a shomer halacha convert entering a shomer halacha community. 
      (Just a bit of editorializing--sorry.)  Nevertheless, an interesting

Scalamanti, J.D.  Ordained to be a Jew: A Catholic Priest's conversion to
Judaism.  Ktav: Hoboken, NJ (catalog # 5-412-6), 1992.
    --The story of a Catholic priest who became a Jew.  I have not yet
      read this.

Also, there are sections on conversion, from a halachic perspective
similar to the one mentioned above for the J.S. Cohen book, in two of
Eliezer Berkovitz's books:  Crisis and Faith, Hebrew Publishing Co: NY,NY
and Not in Heaven, Ktav: Hoboken, NJ.  


From: Barry H. Rodin <brodin@...>
Date: Fri, 5 Mar 93 13:52:59 -0500
Subject: Kohen marrying a convert

In a previous issue it was stated:
"Of course if you're a kohen you can't marry a convert".
What is the reason for this? Does it also apply if a person was converted 
as a child and raised jewish?
(I know, of course, that a Kohen can't marry a divorcee.)


From: <friedenb@...> (Gedaliah Friedenberg)
Date: Fri, 5 Mar 93 14:02:47 -0500
Subject: Laws of Mourning for Child of Intermarried Couple

We know that the child of a Jewish mother and gentile father is Jewish.

When the gentile father of the Jewish child dies, is there any formal
mourning on the part of the child?  I am pretty sure that there is no
type of shiva (morning period) or kaddish recited.  Assuming that the
father will have a funeral in a gentile cemetary, can the observant
Jewish child attend?  (We know that the child cannot be a Kohen, so
there is no apparent problem going into a cemetary)

What are the ramification of this situation?  What halachos (if any) of
"normal" mourning apply the the child.

Unfortunately, this is going to be a big problem as intermarried Jews
leave children behind as they die.

Gedaliah Friedenberg


From: <Janice.Gelb@...> (Janice Gelb)
Date: Fri, 5 Mar 93 13:52:40 -0500
Subject: Re: Questions Re Converts

Joe Abeles, in mj 6/48 raised questions concerning converts of which
one was (excerpted):

>[...] is there any precedent (or justification) for a convert to be accorded
>greater acceptance or respect based on which bais din did the conversion
>(assuming all are recognized as Orthodox)?

I know of one case where a person converted by a recognized Orthodox
bais din in Miami; however, when he wanted to study in Lubavich yeshiva
in New York, the Lubavichers didn't accept one of the bais din
participants. The person had to go through a modified conversion
procedure again in order to be accepted at their yeshiva.

Janice Gelb


End of Volume 6 Issue 59