Stepping Down

After seven years as head of the Bet Din L’Giyur (the conversion court) in Bergen County, under the auspices of the Beth Din of America and the Gerus Protocol and Standards (GPS) adopted by the RCA in 2007, I have decided to resign from the Bet Din. I sent this missive to my supervisors:

“After much deliberation, I have decided to resign as Rosh Bet Din of the RCBC and step down from the Bet Din itself, effective immediately.

    It has been spiritually rewarding to serve in this capacity for the last seven years. I am extremely proud of the professionalism, sensitivity, integrity and fidelity to Halacha of the RCBC Bet Din that I and my colleagues established, and that successfully brought more than 100 gerei Tzedek tachat kanfei hashechina.

     In the current climate, with changes to GPS protocols contemplated, it is an appropriate time for new leadership.

    I wish you all continued hatzlacha.”

In the current cynical climate, I must append the following. Lest anyone gets the wrong impression, and at the risk of sounding silly and self-serving, suffice it to say that I am not resigning because of any scandal. There is no scandal, there was no scandal and (I hope!) there will be no scandal. There is no voyeurism, no embezzlement, no tomfoolery, no abuse, no drug use, no illegal gun possession, no pending arrest, no past arrest, no insensitivity or meanness of spirit, no unpaid parking tickets, and nothing untoward of any kind. It shouldn’t have to be said – no one is perfect, of course – but I try to lead a respectable life.

So why resign, especially as our Bet Din has been held to be a model of professionalism, efficiency, and faithfulness to Torah and derech eretz?

Well, it was and is. We adhered scrupulously to the protocols that were established, and I even served on the committee that established the standards that were then approved by the RCA Executive Committee. We never met any candidate (male or female) alone; indeed, I never did anything alone but always with at least two other colleagues. What happened in DC is simply unthinkable in our context: none of us had a key to the mikveh, we were always there with other women when a female convert was there. It never even dawned on us to meet a convert privately, put them to work in an office, charge them money for our services, meet them outside a formal session of Bet Din, and establish a social or financial relationship with them. Unthinkable – as were the other allegations pending in DC.

We always tried to treat each convert with the utmost sensitivity, sincerity and compassion. For sure, not every candidate became a convert. It is not easy to turn someone away, but fortunately, most of those who ultimately did not convert dropped out themselves. And that is quite understandable. It takes an enormous commitment – a transformation of one’s life – to become a religious Jew. They simply saw that it was not for them, or, on some occasions when there was (or was to be) a Jewish spouse, the Jewish spouse could not commit to living a Torah life.

Most converts – especially those who wish to marry a Jew – tend to exaggerate their readiness for conversion. (Only about 15% of our candidates were non-Jews in a relationship with a Jew.) Most of the other adults were simply non-Jews turned on to Torah. Occasionally they too would try to hasten the process but once they became aware of the breadth of knowledge required by a convert, they would accede. Many said, in one form or another, “I want to get this right. I want to be ready.”

That is what made the moment of giyur so special, so inspiring and so memorable. There were not a few times when the candidate (especially a woman) came to receive her name and our blessing after the immersion, and broke down in tears. Tears of joy and thanksgiving, not tears of abuse and maltreatment. I would share only with my colleagues letters, cards (some people actually put pen to paper) and emails of gratitude from many of our converts for the process, the way they were treated, for the immense spiritual pleasure they now enjoy. Those notes would be a welcome contrast to the open season against rabbis now in full force. I would share them, even anonymously, but for their self-serving nature.

So why resign?

The GPS system that has worked so well for us is about to change. No matter that the system worked quite well, making the conversion process difficult but eminently attainable to the committed, protecting rabbis against abuse by a powerful layman (“Convert my future daughter-in-law or you’ll be out of a job!”), and standardizing the requirements for conversion. The latter is the most important consideration, because conversion is not a rabbinical contrivance to decrease the intermarriage rate or facilitate marriages but it is an entrée into the Jewish nation, G-d’s chosen people. It is not a personal, private act of the converter and the convert, but a formal and heartfelt welcome to the Jewish people. It is an act with profound consequences for our nation, and for the convert who now shares our destiny and fate.

We have our rules for citizenship like any nation does, and ours requires, first and foremost, Kabbalat hamitzvot (acceptance of the commandments). Living a full Jewish life requires study, and the policy was always that, aside from rare cases that required special consideration, the minimum period of study was one year. This immediately deflected pressure on the rabbi to perform a quickie conversion. The candidate was tested, informally but regularly, and was expected to be an observant Jew before immersion, the final stage. That always was a sticking point – in the past not every rabbi insisted on a full acceptance of mitzvot, preferring to turn a blind eye or deaf ear. Most candidates accepted the one-year period (the US requires a five-year residency requirement for citizenship!) and most understood that it was because conversion was a momentous act. One recent candidate explained that she first went to a non-Orthodox conversion school, and realized there were no expectations for her at all. Finish the class, and you’re in the club. She intuitively knew that could not be right, and came to our Bet Din.

Beyond that, candidates were always told that the pace of conversion was up to them, and it depended on two factors: knowledge and commitment. The more they grew in knowledge and the deeper in commitment, the closer they were to conversion. It was and is a reasonable approach.

On the other hand, once or twice candidates came and said that they are getting married in six weeks, and one party needed to convert. They were not observant, did not wish to be, and they were not accommodated. The serious among them, of course, postponed their weddings, waited, went through the system, and established Torah homes. Beautiful. As it should be.

The GPS system did not fail in DC; a person failed. That person allegedly breached every norm in our protocols. There is an impulse – quite common on one side of the political divide in America – that if someone breaks the law, what is needed is a restatement of the law, or another law. But if laws stopped criminals, there would be no criminals. We have plenty of laws.

The GPS system has always had its detractors, inside and outside the RCA, and those detractors are exploiting this crisis to change the system. (Those who have obsessively focused on the Rabbanut angle always missed the point, and Israel is now dealing with its own conversion crisis with issues regarding standards that are not dissimilar to ours.) Thus, the RCA has just appointed a committee “that will review its current Geirus Protocol and Standards (GPS) conversion process and suggest safeguards against possible abuses.” The committee consists of six men and five women, bolstering the trend on the Orthodox left to create quasi-rabbinical functions for women. Is there a role for women to play in “suggest[ing] safeguards against possible abuse”? Probably, although it really is self-understood. But what role can they play in “review[ing]” the GPS conversion process? That is halacha, minhag, psak – a purely rabbinical role.

There are members of the committee who have never liked the GPS guidelines, and do not follow them. There are very few members of the committee who were part of the original committee, which entirely consisted of Rabbis. Of course, they will have to water down the standards – they’ll call it a “revision” and an “improvement” – but I fear we will not be far from the old days of quickie conversions with little true commitment. That, by the way, still happens, and a few RCA rabbis acting outside the GPS system still perform those.

I will be delighted to be proven wrong. But I don’t think I will be, and therefore it is time to get out. I do not wish to be coerced to apply standards and guidelines that, to my thinking, may not comport with the requirements of Torah, and the makeup of the committee will almost ensure that outcome, however it is presented.

Much of the impetus for these changes is media-driven, as the RCA is trying to overcome the bad publicity of the DC scandal. I, for one, refused to be tarred with that brush. Let one person stand trial for his crimes. Jews have always opposed the notion of collective guilt. Why does every Bet Din in the country have to change their successful practices just because one person in one Bet Din allegedly violated every guideline in our handbook?

Additionally, it would be far better for the RCA leadership now to focus on its own potential mishandling of this matter, as the media has highlighted. I serve on the RCA’s Executive Committee but know almost nothing about the inner workings or decision-making of the RCA. Questions have been raised – in the media, especially – as to what did they know, when did they know it, whom did they inform and what did they do about it? I have implicit trust in my colleagues but those questions deserve answers.

Thus, I have no interest in serving in a system in which I have no input in the policies of that system, am not consulted on them, and might not agree with them. Why resign in a huff after the policies and changes are announced?! Be not a martyr after the fact, but a ro’eh et hanolad – anticipate what will happen. That is what I have done.

There is a second reason as well. Earlier I described the sheer majesty of the moment of conversion –the birth of a Jewish soul. For me and I’m sure my colleagues, that made all our efforts worthwhile – all the time we invested on a volunteer basis (we never earned a nickel from conversions), the nights and weekends that were devoted to helping people realize their spiritual dreams.

Now, the recent, voluminous and tendentious writings on conversion, the media testimonies of converts and the agenda of feminists would have us believe that conversion is all about sex, power and money. It is about evil men looking to dominate women and lusting after lucre. That is a vulgar distortion of reality. They have taken a sublime and pure moment and made it prurient and ugly. For sure, I blame my DC colleague for this situation, but also those who have exaggerated the problem and impute guilt and suspicion to every rabbi and Bet Din.

It needs to be said that the most uncomfortable situation I encountered in gerut was not the woman in the mikveh; she is concealed such that only the top of her head was visible. My most uncomfortable moments were when an adult male had to lie on a table with his private parts exposed so the Bet Din could witness the hatafat dam brit (a quasi-circumcision). And yet, no man – not a single one – ever complained about the process because each knew that it was a small price he had to pay (a requirement) for membership in an eternal people. A little perspective is in order. Not everything in life has to be vulgarized.

It is as if every rabbi is now a suspect, every rabbi needs a chaperone, and no rabbi can be trusted.

I have no interest in living as a suspect. I refuse to have my integrity and character impugned, nor to be defined in the public eye because of one miscreant.

Note that I have no illusions that this is some major moment in my life or anyone else’s. There is no earth-shattering news here. The heavens will not shed tears. I subscribe to de Gaulle’s adage that “the graveyards are full of indispensable men.” I too will be replaced. Don’t cry for me, Evita Peron.

But we are living in a toxic environment for rabbis (generally; not locally where I live, thank G-d). The distrust is embarrassing and unbecoming. If I cannot be trusted to behave like a normal, decent human being, then I am unworthy of serving on a Bet Din. Let someone else do it. If people wish to presume that rabbis are corrupt and suspect, so in the words of our Sages (Masechet Sanhedrin 37b), “Mah lanu v’la’tzara ha’zot?” – that is to say, why do we need this headache?

Frankly, I am hard-pressed to understand why any non-Jew would convert to a religion whose spiritual leaders are so distrusted.

There is much to do, much that needs to be done, in the world of Torah and for the Jewish people. My days are full, thank G-d. I’m lucky to be able to make a contribution in other ways, foremost in the kehilla where I am privileged to serve, and look forward to doing so.

I leave conversion to others – others that I know serve the Jewish people with great devotion, distinction and honor, and do deserve the trust of those they serve.

   (P.S. I was just sent the NY Jewish Week’s article on this matter. Typically, it got almost every fact wrong. [Even the picture is 15 years old, but I thank them for publishing that.] I don’t consider myself Modern Orthodox; I see myself as part of every camp of faithful Jews and try to learn from all of them. I didn’t step down at all from the Beth Din of America, but just from the Beit Din of the Rabbinical Council of Bergen County. And I didn’t step down because a committee was formed including women. This decision was made before I knew the makeup of the committee. There are any number of rabbis whose participation would be equally unsettling.

   The main reason is, as I elaborated: the negativity associated today with conversion, and the cynicism and distrust fostered by so many (including the Jewish Week) towards the rabbinate. That has nothing to do with women.

Don’t expect a clarification.)    -RSP 

Update: They clarified, and naturally made it worse. They corrected the text to read that I resigned from the RCBC Beit Din, not the Beit Din of America, but under the wonderful old picture that I am delighted they used, the error remains. Sheer incompetence.

They took out the Modern Orthodox label, and in the text called me a “high-ranking officer of the RCA.” I am not an officer at all, much less a high-ranking one. Does anyone do fact-checking there?

Chronologically they were correct that my decision “followed” the decision to include women on the committee, and my intentions were already known last week (before I knew who was on the committee), so much so that I was contacted and asked not to resign. So they still missed the gist of my argument, which I assume they stopped reading half-way through (once they found they could string together enough phrases to fit their narrative).

I haven’t talked to the NY Jewish Week in more than 15 years. And this is why. They are typical of the sordid state of journalism today. (I know, I know, never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.)

But then the “updated” version contained this doozy: “Pruzansky is still a member of the RCA’s Executive Committee, where he used to share the company of Rabbi Freundel before his arrest.” Huh!!   How is that for vicious innuendo?  “Share the company of…?  I join the meetings almost always by conference call. To that extent, every officer and every Executive Committee member “shared” the same “company.” What in the world is the point of that – except to plant the seed that somehow I am connected to the alleged malfeasance in DC? What a despicable outrageous slander!

They should retract and apologize. It is elementary decency.

And they wonder why I don’t return their phone calls. Simply despicable. And typical from one of the leading publications in the world of Orthodox-bashing and rabbi-bashing.

-RSP

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75 responses to “Stepping Down

  1. A.W. (Art) Bowman

    I am only a Zionist goy, yet I offer you my deepest respect and admiration. Your integrity transcends the events.

    Shalom Aleichem, Rabbi.

  2. A man of integrity. Shalom Aleichem, Rabbi.

  3. I suggest that we Jews solve our conversion problems by banning all conversions to Judaism, preferably permanently.

    The Jewish communities that either ban all conversions or have very few converts are the Jewish communities that also have the lowest percentages of intermarriage with Gentiles.

    The Jewish communities that either ban all conversions or have very few converts are not suffering in any way from the lack of converts among them; on the contrary, these Jewish communities are thriving in every way, both spiritual and material.

    If my suggestion had been implemented ten years ago, then the recent scandal never would have happened.

    • Michael Makovi

      Mr. Cohen, by your logic, we can eliminate adultery by banning marriage. If no one converts, then no rabbis can abuse their power to convert. If nobody marries, nobody can commit adultery. Maybe we can abolish the act of eating food so that nobody eats treif.

      • Not a fair comparison. His point is not about abuse of power, it’s about intermarriage. I heard that the Persian Jewish community (back in Iran) had done so and stopped intermarriage before it got started.

    • So you want to address the problem of one man`s deficiencies by punishing all potential converts?!
      Avraham aveinu made many converts, Moshe rabbeinu married a convert, David haMelekh came from a convert…and (someone correct me if I`m wrong) there are penalties that ensue when a sincere candidate for giyur is deprived the opportunity wrongfully. Has not converts and conversion always been around?

      Surely your comment is with tongue firmly in cheek!

    • How many times did you forget the mitzvah to love the convert before writing this comment, Mr. Cohen?

    • Part of me would agree, except for two facts:
      I know so many beautiful and righteous converts. And the Torah allows for conversion. So how can we deprive those who seek Torah of the right of membership in the Jewish people. What if we had turned away Ruth??
      -RSP

    • I can’t tell if Mr. Cohen is being serious or tongue in cheek. If your remarks are intended to be facetious or intentionally thickheaded, well done. If you’re writing with sincerity, congratulations – you just advocated a solution that would have meant my wife never converted and my daughter was never born.
      To anyone who legitimately thinks that banning conversion is a noble act, please remember that converts are not just an integral part of the fabric and framework of Judaism (both historical and modern), but also, more importantly, each convert is an individual person with a story and personal reasons for their choices. It would be both foolhardy and cruel to declare that to get to a Jewish life of serving Hashem as more than a Righteous Gentile, they have to go through us, and sorry, but we’re not letting anyone in.

      • I am not M Cohen and don’t pretend to speak for him. However, I suspect that his comments were motivated by the anguish of so much intermarriage that did NOT involve a true conversion – either no conversion at all or a watered-down process done for the sake of marriage as opposed to a true spiritual journey and transformation. Surely your wife, as a true convert and therefore a Jew, would empathize with this sentiment.

      • Regardless of the anguish which produced the remarks, I still don’t think one can argue that the solution to intermarriage or related issues is to “close the border” to converts. More importantly, it’s not our place to stand between truly committed ma’aminim and Hashem. It’s an incredible chutzpa.
        We cannot allow the distressing aspects of Judaism in the modern world to turn us against the genuine bracha that the institution of geirus is to our faith community.

      • One can argue it. It won’t happen. But the argument isn’t necessarily unhealthy. Because if some Jewish groups in America had not changed both the definition of who is a Jew and the standards for conversion some decades ago, we may have never reached this level of intermarriage. So a conversation on conversion standards is probably very healthy, and the suggestion that we push “pause” on all conversions (in this country) is an interesting thesis. What if converts were all required to spend a year in Israel and complete their conversion there under a single authority? That would be harder, but why would it be a chuzpa as you say?

  4. Rabbi, “bimkom she’ein ish hishtadel lihyot ish”. You are suspected, you are considered to need a chaperone (and frankly, halacha agrees, it says that every Jew needs a chaperone), but who will be less suspected, and who will be able to further your principles in your absence? And not only do I think you are wrong about the changes this committee will recommend (it seems to me they will want to have women or multiple men involved in supervising the conversion process, but not to change the standards on converts), but by resigning now you forfeit the chance to protest effective if negative changes ever are made.

    I disagree with most of what you wrote here, but you write eloquently and intelligently, and in my opinion this post is a small kiddush hashem, so thank you.

    • I can always protest! I hope it is unnecessary.
      And the rules of multiple men and women already exist!
      -RSP

  5. Way back when, there was a prince who raped his half-sister. It was a terrible shame to the king, and at the next legislative meeting he proposed new regulations; particularly a new, very prohibitive rule against any man being in a secluded place with even a single woman. There were many people saying the same things this blog post says; many important men were miffed at the suggestion that the actions of one spoiled, undisciplined prince should define how they live their lives. Alas, the proposal became legislation anyway, and so we have the prohibition of yichud for singles.

  6. Rabbi Pruzansky, I am genuinely sorry to read this blog piece about your resignation. When I think of Rebeeim who are fair, wise, Frum and just, I think of you. When I lost my father ~ ~ years ago you, and your Rebbetzin Karen came to pay me a shiva visit, I was not only consoled but pleasantly surprised. I was no longer a f/t member of CBY b/c when R’ … and Rebbetzin …, took over, I was more their congregant than yours. I only saw the two of you at Smachot but you took the time on a Friday afternoon, before Shabbos to menachem avel. It meant a lot to my relative and me.
    As if this weren’t enough, I was separated from my husband at the time, and mentioned that my now, ex, would not give me a GET; you asked in no uncertain terms: “Do you need help with this? I can get you a GET.” And, I knew you could and would. But, I didn’t want to create a scandal; I didn’t want my pic or story in The Jewish Standard. I knew my ex would even become more of a loose cannon than he actually was. You clearly understood the ramifications of me not having received my GET, as a Jew, as a woman. If I needed the job done immediately, you were the man for this job.
    Back to your blog, in my mind, I was hoping that a member of the RCA would resign but not for the same reasons you purport. I was hoping that someone would come forth and say: We made a mistake, I can no longer represent the RCA in this capacity — not necessarily b/c of the RD scandal (though this heightened and intensified it). But, because of other issues, i.e. conversion issues which were pushed under the rug. R’ Pruzansky, you’re the last person that should resign. In fact, the RCA needs you on that committee. Once a Rabbi resigns, I guess it’s final; hence, the word resignation. I hope you’ll reconsider and rejoin. As always, your oral and writing skills are above board and the Jewish Orthodox issues you bring forth are important and vital to the essence of our community in Teaneck and beyond. Kol Yisroel Arevim zen la’zeh. I think your resignation is a huge blow to the RCA since your contributions could and would make a difference.

  7. I confess: it’s a fairly good analogy, but it does fall short. There the fear was that if a princess could be treated abusively, certainly non-princesses would be treated even worse. Here, the rules were already in place. They were not followed, allegedly, which will result in either the same rule being enunciated or more rules being enacted, which evil people will breach anyway.
    Additionally, since homosexuality has become so accepted in American life, a cause de jour on the left, including the Orthodox left, and the ancient edict that Jews are not suspected of same is clearly no longer valid, perhaps rabbis should not be alone with men. Perhaps men should not be alone with men.
    I’d rather not live in a world where suspicion and distrust reigns. That’s just me.
    In truth, any group can make any rules it wants. Some accord with the Torah. Some don’t. It doesn’t mean I have to accept it. Maybe the world is so depraved that no man should ever talk to a woman, much less be alone with her. But I am not obligated to live as a suspect or work in such an environment of distrust. That’s just me.
    “Will one person sin, and you will be wrathful with the entire congregation?”
    (Bamidbar at 16:22).
    -RSP

  8. Rabbi Pruzansky,

    First of all, I’d like to give you credit for sticking to your guns. Even those who disagree with you should respect that you are keeping to your principles. I can’t imagine it was an easy decision to step down. Regarding the content of your statement, I have two questions:

    1) Are there really serious halakhic changes on the horizon for the RCA geirus process? As an outsider, I see this committee simply as a way to make conversion more comfortable (not easier) and to create some oversight to avoid giving one person absolute power. Granted they used the phrase “reviewing the process,” but does that really mean they are going to violate proper halakhic procedure to make people happy?

    2) Even if you are not personally concerned about future conversions, can’t you see why others would feel uncomfortable? Although I personally feel the same way you do about the scandal – that it is an isolated incident – I don’t feel that other people are responsible to feel the same way I do. The bottom line is that many people are now uncomfortable with a few aspects of the geirus process, and (forgetting those who are inappropriately using the scandal to promote their own agendas) these feelings are based on legitimate sentiments (wanting women to feel more protected, etc…). What is your take on the place of the feelings of the hamon am in making halakhic changes? Doesn’t the halakhic system include mechanisms to adopt kulas in public halakhic policy when warranted?

    • 1) I don’t know. I hope not. Certainly there is pressure from many groups, less committed to halacha (some, not committed at all), to change many halachot and reform many practices. But at the end of the day, like I wrote, if laws prevented crime, then we would have no crime. All the laws were in place here. They were just violated, allegedly, in an illegal and mean-spirited way. The way we conducted ourselves always made people as comfortable as possible. (In fact, I would tell a nervous convert, “relax, this is very informal.”)
      So what does this have to do with me?
      2) No.

      – RSP

      • It doesn’t have anything to do you with you specifically. It has to do with the responsibility of all hierarchical systems to have checks and balances. If anything, the fact that it has taken a scandal to bring this about shows the faith that people have had in the RCA’s conversion department.

        In terms of adjusting pesak halakha, I might be wrong, but I am under the impression that many Orthodox Rabbis (including RCA members, shul Rabbis, and respected and humble talmidei chachamim) take a more liberal approach to halakhic development than you might. And if that is so, shouldn’t their opinions be heard as well? Isn’t it problematic if diverse Rabbinic voices aren’t involved in the process? Or is your way of understanding halakha an accurate representation of the what the RCA stands for? (Again, I could be completely wrong about the range of opinions that exist.)

        RSP: We have checks and balances. I am answerable to G-d, and then to my colleagues and the home office. We never operated in a vacuum. We always did everything in a group of at least three. Those rules already exist.
        The original committee was made of of a cross-section of the RCA. It was all thrashed out. It took many months of work. Written guidelines were drafted and debated, changes made, and then the policies were accepted. No voices were not heard, except for those (they do exist) who think that scholarship consists of finding the one opinion that justifies what you want to do, which is, sadly, often the very definition of scholarship in the ModO world.
        So, it’s all been done. The rest is PR. The mistakes here were not universal, but specific; not global but personal; not substantive, but managerial.
        Again, what does that have to do with us?
        -RSP

      • Rabbi, thank you for opening your heart and letting us in. Its obvious that the amount of work you do and your sensitivity for Klal Yisrael is unfortunately left in the dark here. Thank you for the tremendous amount of time taken to develop GPS and work with Geirim. Your work is surely a 24/7 one.
        Rabbi, couldn’t there be some rule amendment or oversight instituted that might have staved off or made it more difficult for any rogue element or person to succeed?
        I dare say this would never cast a shadow of doubt on our Morah D’Asrah’s. Rather it would serve to reinforce the trust they have already more than earned.
        b’kavod, DR

      • Rule change? In retrospect, yes, although a number of the existing rules were simply not followed. But there can never be sufficient rules to preclude a person from perpetrating criminal acts. Some level of trust will always be required.
        – RSP

  9. Glatt some questions

    Thoughtful and well written, as usual. However, here’s the problem, Rabbi Pruzansky. Even though 99% of all rabbis who perform conversions and supervise the mikveh do so appropriately and sensitively, without taking advantage of their power, the perception of women using the mikveh and converts seeking to become Jews is that there is a problem. Perception is reality. And if there are things that the RCA can do to make these folks feel more comfortable (without sacrificing on halacha, of course), and put Orthodoxy in a better light, they have an obligation to do so. It does not matter that Freundel and Tropper were the very tiny exceptions to the rule; if the perception is that there is a bigger problem, it needs to be addressed. So I applaud the RCA for confronting the issue.

    • “the perception of women using the mikveh and converts seeking to become Jews is that there is a problem.”

      Nonsense. I’ve lived in three communities, with countless women using the mikvah every night. There is no problem, and there is no perception of a problem. How many times does Rabbi Pruzansky have to say it? Alltogether now: R. Freundel was one man.

      Geirus is a different issue. There are problems there, but nothing the RCA can fix. Indeed, part of the problem is that the RCA itself is viewed by some on the right as a suspect rabbinic organization. By putting women on the board, they are further entrenching that reputation, and exacerbating their own problem.

      • Glatt some questions

        I’m speaking about after the scandal news hit, not before. Speak to some women who use the mikveh regularly. And some female converts. Many of them are creeped out by this one bad apple, to the point that some of these women are refusing to use the mikveh until changes are made and they can be assured that a mikveh is both physically and emotionally safe for them. Part of that involves knowing that other women will be part of the process implementing these changes. Perception is indeed reality.

        RSP – if true, it is hard to believe. To realize how our ancestresses sacrificed for Mikveh (lakes and rivers in cold Polish winters)… Ultimately it is question of commitment.

      • Glatt – what you’re saying is simply false. Neither you nor me have any way of knowing if there is even one single “regular mikvah user that is refusing to use it until changes are made”, as you claim. Any such woman is categorized by black-letter law as a moredes. I highly, highly doubt there is anyone out there who meets your description.

        What there may be, though, are cases of potential ballei teshuvah, or Conservative women who don’t regularly use it but are open to the idea, who may now be turned off. But even such cases would number less than a handful. The Internet is not the real world, and DC is not the center of the universe. The vast majority of Jews even aware of the scandal moved on the very next day. People don’t make drastic changes – and for a woman, using or non using a mikvah is a HUGE change – based on one man’s foolishness.

  10. In terms of Rabbis the committee seems pretty well-rounded. I would not call the make-up of the Rabbinic section overly to the left. As far as the other members, I agree with Yair Daar that there needs to be some checks and balances. It is doubtful that those without knowledge of halacha will insert themselves into that are of the discussion. They are there regarding the prevention of abuse.

  11. To Glatt Qs:
    It’s actually worse than that. It has become routine for people – especially hard-core feminists but also others who are just anti-Torah – to portray the rabbinate and especially now in terms of conversion as a big “power trip” for men. That is their narrative, an ingrained part of their world view. It will not change, notwithstanding that it is patently absurd.
    Here’s my response: I voluntarily relinquish my “power.” Wow. I am just like George Washington, and Cincinnatus before him!
    Note the issue was immediately extended beyond the alleged sexual perversions of both men you mention to something else entirely: the length of the gerus process, the substantive requirements of gerus, and the universal acceptability of gerus. That is clearly another agenda, and the RCA should not make common cause with it.
    As I noted several times last week, two Maryland gynecologists were charged with voyeurism last year. Same crime as here. Was there open season on gynecologists? Doctors? Were all doctors then suspects? Did women swear they would never go to a doctor?
    Something else is obviously going on here.
    Thank you.
    -RSP

  12. Babylonian Talmud, tractate Yebamot, page 24B, 20th line on page:
    No converts to Judaism will be accepted in the era of the Messiah.

    Babylonian Talmud, tractate Yebamot, page 24B, 21st line on page:
    No converts to Judaism were accepted in the era of King David and King Solomon

    Babylonian Talmud, tractate Yebamot, page 109B, 10th line on page:
    Evil after evil will come upon those who accept converts.

    Babylonian Talmud, tractate Niddah, page 13B, 14th line on page:
    Our Rabbis taught:
    Converts and Meshachkin BeTinokot delay the arrival of the messiah.

    Midrash Tanchuma, Parshat Emor, chapter 11:
    The Golden Calf was built by converts.

    Midrash Rabah, Seder Tisa, Parshah 42, Paragraph 6:
    The converts that left Egypt with Moshe made it [the golden calf], and said to Israel: These are your gods!

    Rabbeinu Bachye commentary on Devarim, chapter 21, verse 14:
    …most convert for the wrong reasons and they mislead Jews…

    * Shimson (Sampson) served as Chief Judge of the Jewish people 20 years.
    He married a convert woman, Delilah, whose betrayal caused his death.

    * King David had two sons who rebelled against him and tried to kill him.
    Both were sons of convert women.

    * King Solomon married many convert women. When they continued to worship idols even after converting to Judaism, G_d criticized King Solomon for it.

    * The righteous Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai was forced to hide in a cave for 12 years because Yehudah ben Gerim reported his conversation to the Roman Government (tractate Shabbat, page 33B). Yehudah ben Gerim means: Yehudah son of converts.

    • M, I defended you above and then I saw this new comment. That was unnecessary. You are quoting these sources out of context, and without a proper learning and explanation, they can be easily misunderstood and come across as insulting or worse to a ger tzedek, which is an aveira unto itself. The first two sources are fine, please delete the others until you have written a detailed, learned explanation.

  13. But don’t forget Rebbi Akiva, not to mention the Melech Hamoshiach.
    -RSP

    • Just clarifying since the way I read it the first time leads to an erroneous assumption. Melech HaMoshiach will be descended from a convert (Ruth), but is not himself a convert. He will be Beis David, a descendant of King David who’s patrilineal line is from the tribe of Yehudah, but who has Rut HaMoavia as a direct ancestor.

      • Yes, you are correct, notwithstanding that King David was accused by his detractors of not being of royal lineage because of his great-grandmother. Indeed, some wanted to exclude him from marrying a Jew as a descendant of a Moabite. As Moshiach is of the same lineage, he may encounter the descendants of those same detractors when he appears.
        -RSP

    • and Onkelos

  14. Melissa Barnard

    Very interesting column. Last week, when you posted a column defending the RCA’s conduct in the Freundel incident and the conversion process mandated by the RCA’s GPS committee, I asked you a simple question: “How many women served on the RCA’s conversion committee?” Looking back over that exchange, it seems to me that you never really answered that question, except to say that “The RCA is an organization of rabbis. Its committees consist of those rabbis. There cannot be any female Orthodox rabbis, so obviously the answer would be none.” When I pressed you further to ask why they couldn’t have non-Rabbis on this committee, you responded primarily by attacking JOFA (comparing them to Al Sharpton!), even though that was totally irrelevant to my question, and saying that only Rabbis could be entrusted to ensure that proper standards would be followed.

    Reading your blog above, however, it seems quite clear that the Rabbis on the GPS committee failed in setting these standards. You note your admirable standards of conduct in handling conversions (never met alone with a female conversion candidate, no keys to the mikvah, no financial or other relationship with the candidates), and yet none of these important guidelines appear in the GPS standards. In fact, it turns out they were all violated by the chairman of that committee, and that the RCA knew of some of these violations, regarding the financial relationship between the Rabbi and his converts, and took no substantive action in this regard. Perhaps if you had included some converts on your original committee, especially female converts, you would have instituted these rules from the start.

    Now, unfortunately, it is too late, and the RCA’s credibility is at an all time low. I, for one, appreciate the sincere effort that they are making to restore this credibility. Sorry to see that for you, Rabbi, this effort, belated though it may be, is a reason to leave the system entirely.

    • If the RCA failed to rein in the offender, then heads should roll (figuratively). As I noted, there should be an investigation as to who knew what, when and what was done. I knew nothing,period. If people did and covered up, they should be held accountable.
      It would take me ten minutes to draft new guidelines so that what allegedly happened in DC could not happen elsewhere. You don’t need a committee for that, just common sense. I assume that much of what we do is done elsewhere as well, in terms of modesty, sensitivity, professionalism. But no matter what is drafted, there will always be offenders who find some new way to cause mischief.
      It’s not a perfect world.
      -RSP

  15. Just one question:
    Who will take over you, someone better? or the opposite?
    Who is to make sure standards are kept, once you go?

    • Better!
      -RSP

      • How can you be sure of that? especially in light of your criticisms of the new committee.

        In addition if the next one will be able to weather all assaults on halacha, then one makes you think that you can’t do it?

  16. Jack Michaelson

    Rabbi,
    you claim: “Living a full Jewish life requires study, and the policy was always that, aside from rare cases that required special consideration, the minimum period of study was one year”

    I understand the reason for this policy and am not suggesting that we change it, but am confused by your claim that this has always been a universally held practice. Don’t the rambam and shulchan aruch indicate that we convert the interested convert immediately after teaching ‘miktzat mitzvot’ and the other things mentioned in issurei biah ch 14 and Y”D 268 assuming they accept all mitzvot? According to this it seems that their practice was not to wait a year but to go through the process much more quickly, and that the convert would continue their education after the conversion.

    How do you understand their position

    • They were talking about an era in which few people converted and there was incentive to convert. In an era where there is an incentive to convert (marriage and other reasons), more caution is warranted in order to verify who is and who isn’t sincere.
      -RSP

  17. Phyllis Shapiro

    A direct quote from Rabbi Pruzansky:

    “Thus, I have no interest in serving in a system in which I have no input in the policies of that system, am not consulted on them, and might not agree with them”

    Really? Does he not notice the irony of women feeling disenfranchised from a system in which they have no input?

    Here I am struggling with how to advance acceptance of learned observant women within the community and this rabbi is resigning, in part because he is upset that women’s voices are being added to a process they have every right to enter.

    Of course Rabbi Pruzansky is right that the vast majority of rabbis are good men, but we need to protect against the others. As an attorney, what comes to mind are landmark cases where one person’s problem exposed a flaw in the system that needed correction.

    Phyllis Shapiro
    St. Louis, Missouri

    • You miss the point. Women are not disenfranchised from the Bet Din system. Rather, the Torah accords them no role in the system. If you disagree, your complaint is not with me but with the Torah.
      Children also convert, as do blacks, Hispanics and Asians. Do they require representation also, or are they similarly disenfranchised?
      You are overstating my point with your claim that I am “upset that women’s voices are being added” and thus resigning. There are many male voices in this debate that are unhelpful.
      Not everything in life is about gender. But I do wish you success in increasing women’s learning.
      (And most of the landmark cases – especially in criminal law – led to a dramatic increase in crime and no punishment, even if flaws were exposed. We were worse off than before, not better off.)

      – RSP

  18. Rabbi P: You ask what role women can play in reviewing the GPS conversion process because, as you put it, it is a “purely rabbinical role.” That sentiment, even if technically correct, misses the point. Halacha is meant to evolve, albeit within certain frameworks and cornerstones. The current evolution (which goes beyond conversion) involves more female input and activism, which those in rabbinical roles should embrace, particularly when halachically opining on female issues. And, the Freundel scandal did not create this evolution; it shed light in the darkened corner of converts. So, even if you remain resigned to resignation, I still hope you, I and all continue to evolve.

    • Thank you. Bear in mind that not every evolution is necessarily positive. Sometimes evolution results in regression.
      -RSP

  19. On the assumption my earlier comment was rejected, I submit this abbreviated version.

    You write that when witnessing female converts in the mikveh, able to see only the tops of their heads, you never felt uncomfortable. It seems to me it is not your comfort that is at issue, but theirs.

    You write that no man ever complained of feeling uncomfortable even at having his brit milah or hatafat dam brit witnessed by male witnesses. Aside from the fundamental issue that the inherent disempowerment and vulnerability of the convert in this setting inhibits them, male or female, from complaining about it, doesn’t it seem likely that at least some of these men (probably far more than some) would have been uncomfortable indeed if their procedure was to be witnessed by a handful of women instead of a handful of men?

    It seems to me that both of these comments suggest a strong and pressing need to do precisely what you are opposing–open the process, even the process of “halacha, minhag, and p’sak,” to the voices and participation of women because without those voices we cannot possibly expect to fully appreciate their perspective and experience and if we can’t fully listen to and appreciate the perspective and experience of those most affected by our p’sak then we cannot possibly hope to get it right. I am reminded of the Divine imperative to Avraham: Sh’ma b’kolah.

    • My friend, no one is compelling anyone to convert. Those who convert sincerely recognize the procedures that are required as well as the substance that is asked of them. As I said earlier, some of the stridency sounds like Al Sharpton and his ilk who see EVERYTHING in terms of race. EVERYTHING. There are people who see everything in terms of “male-female wars.” That subject, frankly, bores me.
      There is no disempowerment. There is vulnerability in the sense that the convert is entering a new and to a large part unknown world. That is why we acted with great sensitivity to all converts, not just women.
      And I can’t emphasize enough that there was always another woman present during the tevila of a woman. We found that both necessary and helpful.
      We don’t make psak based on people’s feelings. Psak is based on the sources and precedent. Sh’ma b’kolah was on a family matter, not a halachic matter. I always listen to my wife on family matters. And others.
      -RSP

      • With respect you are responding to strawmen rather than the substance of my comment. When Al Sharpton posts here I’m sure you will be ready to respond to him and I didn’t write about some kind of hypothetical “male-female war” either. I understand–you are troubled by these hypothetical nattering nabobs who see “EVERYTHING” in terms or race or gender. But in response to my own comments that is merely a distraction.

        I pointed out that 1) you spoke about *your own* comfort or discomfort during the process, not that of the women going through it and 2) that men witnessed by men did not express any discomfort. My comment about both of those observations is that they are profoundly insensitive to, in a very literal sense of actually failing to even be cognizant of the profound vulnerability and even trauma inherent in a woman, naked, being witnessed by men. Yes, conversion by its nature is a vulnerable time but that is a red herring. We’re not talking about spiritual and emotional vulnerability inherent in conversion by its very nature. We’re talking about *sexual* vulnerability. The idea that *sexual* vulnerability of women, forced to disrobe in front of men as the price of entry into Am Yisrael, is and must be integral to the process of their conversions and furthermore must not even be so much as acknowledged or discussed is deeply troubling IMO, especially when it is clear that it is *only* women who have to disrobe in front of the opposite gender. Men do not have to go through this particular humiliation in order to convert. You are so determined that these matters must not be explored that you would sooner leave the RCA than remain a member of an organization prepared to listen to the voices of women on such matters. It is in this spirit that I cite the sh’ma b’kolah pasuk. Yes, I am taking it out of context. Guilty. But I stand by it. You are very clear. The voices of women have no place in “halacha, minhag, and p’sak.” It is my opinion that while that may well have been appropriate in times past, nishtenu haz’manim and in the world of now it is an indefensibly rigid stance and leads to bad p’sak. We cannot insist on remaining deaf to the voices of those most affected by that p’sak, even if those are the voices of women traditionally excluded from such matters. Moreover, one need not “ordain women” has v’shalom to hear and heed their voices in these matters.

        RSP – I don’t know what you’re talking about, and I don’t think you do either. No one sees any women “naked” in the conversion process. From where are you getting this nonsense. There is a woman at the mikveh who verifies that she is unclothed, is in the mikveh, with her back to us, protected by a sheet, with only her head visible. That woman stands there. Only then do the rabbis enter.
        Continuing to refer to her as a “naked woman” and as the process as inherently sexual is demeaning, defamatory to the participants, and reflects more on the utterer than om the reality.
        For normal people, it is as sexual as is a visit to the gynecologist, except there the woman, presumably, is at least partially unclothed in the presence of the physician.

  20. I read now that you have resigned. I hope your colleagues will do the same. The present state of geirus is intolerable. Reading RHM’;s blog (from which I have been banned for stating some MO truths about Israel even though they passed moderation) of what went on in the Freundel’s shul made up of up to 30 per cent geirim of how they reacted to a potential giyorus with sexual innuendos is not being Jewish at all.
    There is absolutely no mitsva in making such people Jewish.
    RHM on his blog with his MO zeal for more geirim does not agree with your decision and his MO posters mostly acclaimed disbelievers all seem to echo his position. I hope you will not change your mind however strong the pressure and your colleagues will follow you.

  21. Dr. Ronald A. Brauner

    Yeridah l’tzorekh aliyah!!

  22. I appreciate your thoughts. I just don’t know who RHM is.
    – RSP

  23. RSP – if you missed this addendum, here it is:

    (P.S. I was just sent the NY Jewish Week’s article on this matter. Typically, it got almost every fact wrong. [Even the picture is 15 years old, but I thank them for publishing that.] I don’t consider myself Modern Orthodox; I see myself as part of every camp of faithful Jews and try to learn from all of them. I didn’t step down at all from the Beth Din of America, but just from the Beit Din of the Rabbinical Council of Bergen County. And I didn’t step down because a committee was formed including women. This decision was made before I knew the makeup of the committee. There are any number of rabbis whose participation would be equally unsettling.

    The main reason is, as I elaborated: the negativity associated today with conversion, and the cynicism and distrust fostered by so many (including the Jewish Week) towards the rabbinate. That has nothing to do with women.

    Don’t expect a clarification.) -RSP

    Update: They clarified, and naturally made it worse. They corrected the text to read that I resigned from the RCBC Beit Din, not the Beit Din of America, but under the wonderful old picture that I am delighted they used, the error remains in the caption. Sheer incompetence.

    They took out the Modern Orthodox label, and in the text called me a “high-ranking officer of the RCA.” I am not an officer at all, much less a high-ranking one. Does anyone do fact-checking there?

    Chronologically they were correct that my decision “followed” the decision to include women on the committee, and my intentions were already known last week (before I even knew who was on the committee), so much so that I was contacted and asked not to resign. So they still missed the gist of my argument, which I assume they stopped reading half-way through (once they found they could string together enough phrases to fit their narrative).

    I haven’t talked to the Jewish Week in more than 15 years. And this is why. They are typical of the sordid state of journalism today. (I know, I know, never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.) It is agneda driven journalism in which truth takes a back seat to polemics.

    But then the “updated” version contained this doozy: “Pruzansky is still a member of the RCA’s Executive Committee, where he used to share the company of Rabbi Freundel before his arrest.” Huh!?!? How is that for vicious innuendo? “Share the company of…? I join the meetings almost always by conference call. To that extent, every officer and every Executive Committee member “shared” the same “company.” What in the world is the point of that – except to plant the seed that somehow I am connected to the alleged malfeasance in DC? What a despicable outrageous slander!

    They should apologize. But, I guess, to follow their way of reporting, both the Jewish Week’s publisher and Julius Streicher published newspapers that dealt a lot with Jews. Same business, I suppose. That’s bad company to be in.

    And they wonder why I don’t return their phone calls. Simply despicable. And typical from one of the leading publications in the world of Orthodox-bashing and rabbi-bashing. I canceled my free subscription more than 15 years ago, don’t read it, and don’t know why any decent Jew would.

    -RSP

    • BTW, I agree with you–gratuitously putting you “in the company of” Freundel is BS.

    • Ken,

      In order to convert, women – and men – enter a mikvah. They need to be unclothed when in the mikvah, with their bodies surrounded by the waters of the mikvah. I actually attended (once) a tevila l’sheim gerus as part of a (gasp) Freundel conversion – I was one of the three ‘judges’. The convert was a woman. She was entirely enrobed in a vast voluminous wrap – some sort of very thick curtain like material – with only her face visible . She looked like a Muslim woman in that respect. She descended into the mikvah, and as she went underwater allowed the huge sheeting material to float on the surface of the water. We saw no physical part of her body at any time. The entire process took a few seconds- the instant she was submerged we left (we were not actually in the room, but poking our heads through the doorway). A woman – I presume some sort of attendant – was there the entire time. This took place at least three years ago. I have no idea as to what transpired in years prior to , or after, the single event I witnessed . I can only say that the event I witnessed was chaste and dignified. It would seem to me that your concerns in this regard are not in concert with what I saw.

      • My concern isn’t whether we the men are comfortable with the process. I understand that you had no concerns. My concern is that we are not willing to ask the women how *they* feel about the process.

      • Ken,

        I said “your concerns”. YOU have concerns. You creatively imagine – on behalf of all women- what they might or might not be feeling. You imagine these things because you think that they might be demeaning. My information sheds light – in a very small, localized way – on whether or not people – men or women – feel demeaned. Men may also feel strange as they prepare to go into a mikvah l’shem gerus. I am sure some do. Our job – for men and for women – is to make the process as gentle and painless as possible – even though, having done so, there will undoubtedly be people that still feel uncomfortable. There are no doubt women who would object even if only women would be present to witness their tevilla. I simply related one event that I witnessed in which all attempts were made to take the converts feelings into consideration, in a dignified and serene manner.

  24. I really enjoyed reading this blog snd all of the comments. Everyone makes good points. I love when everyone is right.😊

  25. Ken Sperber: Certainly, a Rabbi must concern himself with feelings of people in formulating his words when he is explaining decisions and reasons when somebody comes to him with a question or problem. But should “feelings” change his ruling or conversion policies and standards for that matter? He should issue the proper ruling with sensitive wording *despite* his feelings or those of the person seeking an answer. If feelings were the primary reason for following mitzvot/halakha, Abraham would never have accepted the command to sacrifice Yitzhak. Then where would we be today without such emunah and bitachon as part of our tradition? Policies and standards for conversion may not be “fair”, much less easy. But Judaism has survived and (orthodoxy, anyway) is growing despite the unfairness and difficulties arising form thousands of years of persecution. And looking at the state of non-Orthodoxy, “fair and easy” conversion isn’t exactly helping the growth of Judaism or levels of Jewish observance, is it?

  26. Ken, if you really are Ken and not Barbie (we can all blog and type under pseudonyms, both M & F), how dare you speak to a Rabbi in this manner? Were you raised by wolves? How bout: I disagree and btw, did you delete my post re….Please reinstate if you did…Evidently, mentschlichkeit or female/zachen is not your strong point.

    Regarding your response to Jon: “Thank you. Bear in mind that not every evolution is necessarily positive. Sometimes evolution results in regression.
    -RSP”
    I’m reminded of “Peter the Great and the Emergence of Russia,” here re: evolutions vs revolutions. Evolutions deny the past. Revolutions address present and future, imho. Shabbat Shalom to all.

  27. My comments (“two cents”) are with respect to the many comments posted here.

    1. I suspect that absolutely prohibiting any giyur would result in more intermarriage – not less. Jewish people would continue to marry non-converts.

    2. I suspect that the current Jewish attitude towards giyur results directly or indirectly in “Eivah” among the nations. This has probably caused the murder of thousands if not millions of Jews over the millennia.

    3. Aren’t all Jews gerim? Weren’t we all converted to Judaism at Har Sinai? Aren’t we required to accept sincere gerim?

    4. I think Orthodox Judaism needs to develop a public relations campaign to improve our image in the world.

  28. RHM is Harry Maryles who is related to the local author in Teaneck, Helen Maryles Shankman and Elana Maryles Sztockman, former head of JOFA. He is not a feminist though I think he is a Rabbi, hence the RHM. In fact, he’s vs feminism, if I had to guess.

  29. Thank you, Rabbi, for your honest account.

    I recently wrote a blog on a fake Agunah. http://monblogparesseux.blogspot.co.il/2014/10/feminism-equality-or-dogma.html

    It seems Jewish women are no less vulnerable to the feminism brainwash than anyone else. (Which we’ve known for many years: WOW.)

    • I would like to point out to some of the critics above that a convert should accept Judaism, period. All 613 mitzvoth and the 13 principles; and if any convert is coming in questioning and fighting the conversion process then perhaps he or she should remain a Ben Noach.

      Second, my former mother-in-law is known to not have accepted the full yoke of Mitzvoth, as she has said so herself, and it has caused calamity for the family, including my own divorce and misery. Don’t underestimate what level of misery crooked conversions cause.

    • taurus4wd@aol.com

      touche! Let’s not confuse feminism with narcissism. One need not be the cynosure of attention.

  30. Ira Newhouse (esq.)

    The Jewish Week is a dinosaur. Look at how much effort, as well as its competitors Haaretz and Forward, devote to maligning the orthodox. Meanwhile the orthodox just keep growing and growing. Rabbi Pruzansky is right to just ignore them, and get his message out via his own blog.

    Jews aren’t so stupid, you know. They know how to read between the lines of news reporters. They know bias. They know how to draw inferences. They realize when someone has a personal agenda. (And boy, Gary Rosenblatt’s personal agenda here is embarrassingly transparent. The man never met a feminist, especially a so-called “orthodox” one he hasn’t tripped over his shoes running to worship. Likewise, he’s never met an orthodox rabbi, especially ones that ignore him, that he hasn’t tried to vilify.)

    To Rabbi Pruzansky, all I can say is keep on keeping on. Of people who actually read these things, the Jewish community, especially the committed part of it, is solidly behind you. (And the reality is, most people probably haven’t even followed this whole affair, which again, is good for you!)

  31. Stephen Hirsch

    As the husband of one and the step-father of 2 Giyoruses, I greatly appreciate the high standards and attention to detail that the RCA conversion process guaranteed. No one will question the Kesuba I gave my wife, no one will question that our daughter is Jewish, and when the time comes, no one should question their right to make Aliyah.

    The old cliché, don’t throw out the baby with the bath water comes to mind…

  32. Rabbi Dov Fischer said:
    “The Jewish Week has a well-deserved reputation for being vitriolically anti-Orthodox, and I share that perception.”
    SOURCE: The Jewish Week, 2012 February 10, Letters to the Editor, pages 7 and 8

    Final sentence of article by Steve Brizel 2007/11/15:
    “I have unfortunately come to expect nothing but the worst about Torah Judaism from the Jewish Week.”
    SOURCE: http://www.beyondbt.com/2007/11/15/in-praise-of-art-scroll/

    Marvin Schick, 2011 March 10:
    “The Ohel coverage needs to be seen in the context of the endless attacks on the Orthodox that is a hallmark of the Jewish Week.”
    SOURCE: http://mschick.blogspot.com/2011/03/jewish-week-should-apologize.html

    • lydia sultanik

      Marvin Schick of BP? Star frum caterer? I didn’t realize he blogged…nonetheless, if this is the same gentleman, than I believe him when he discusses Ohel’s coverage in this light. Tis a shanda all around. Journalists can be narcissists — the power of the pen…

  33. The Jewish week should be better known as The Weak Jew,
    Moshe Snow