July 26 - Why Rotem has a fight on his hands

Intention as a requirement for conversion; wind power for renewable energy.

Why Rotem has a fight on his hands
Sir, – David Horovitz made a valiant and largely successful attempt at unraveling the complications of the current conversion crises in his July 23 column “Unconverted.”
However, the article leaves the erroneous impression that leaders of non-Orthodox streams of Judaism have agreed to provide input into education, but not into the actual conversion. The reference is to the so-called joint conversion institute run by the government and the Jewish Agency. It is true that that is the case in regard to that particular institute, but not to conversion in general in Israel.
Our Masorti Movement, for example, continues to have a conversion institute here and accepts candidates who, for whatever reasons, are not interested in the joint institute or an Orthodox conversion.
We are members of the joint institute in order to facilitate mass conversion, but we have not agreed that only Orthodox conversion is legitimate in Israel.
Regarding the institute, Horovitz states that there is considerable friction and dissatisfaction among the Orthodox, Reform and Conservative members of the board. As the official representative of the Masorti Movement, I can state that while of course there are always issues that need to be solved, our movement is by no means marginalized, and the level of cooperation is high. The curriculum of the institute was a joint effort, agreed upon by all, and although there may be problems with individual teachers, the institute and its board make every effort to solve them. The real problems are with the actual conversion process, where the rabbinical courts are often unsympathetic to what is being done and reject all too many candidates for a variety of unjustified reasons or for no reason at all.
I would also take issue with Horovitz’s statement that “misrepresentation of [the Rotem bill’s content] by some in the non- Orthodox leadership deepened the rift.” There may have been exaggerated statements by individuals in America, but the leadership has been more than careful.
It has made it very clear that there is no opposition to those aspects of the bill that are intended to make conversion more accessible to non-Jewish Russians, but only to those sections that are intended solely to give power to the Chief Rabbinate and to delegitimize our conversions.
These are the sections that MK David Rotem added at the behest of Shas and others. Perhaps he did not realize their true intentions, but the very fact that non-Orthodox movements were asked to put on hold their Supreme Court case seeking recognition of their conversions in Israel – a case that has absolutely nothing to do with Russian conversions – in order for there to be a freeze on the Rotem bill is proof positive (if such were needed) that non- Orthodox conversions are the real problem, and not the plight of the Russians.
Were Rotem to rewrite his bill to deal solely with easing conversions for Russians, there would be no outcry from our movements. As long as he insists on including sections that have nothing to do with that – but everything to do with creating an Orthodox monopoly on conversion – he will continue to have a fight on his hands.
RABBI REUVEN HAMMER Head, Rabbinical Court of the Rabbinical Assembly of Israel Jerusalem
Matter of time
Sir, – Kenneth Besig (“Personal covenant,” Letters, July 22) writes that if a “new Jewish convert eats a ham sandwich... [it] doesn’t nullify his conversion and simply means he has failed to observe that particular mitzva.”
If, at the time of undergoing the conversion ritual, this had been the convert’s intention, then no conversion took place, since one of the principal requirements for conversion is an unqualified acceptance to abide by the practices of the Torah, even those not as yet learned. If the convert had followed a Torah lifestyle for a long time and ate the ham many years later, one could not question his original sincerity – the problem is just how long would be enough to qualify.
A general rule is impossible and each case has to be examined on its own merits.
MARTIN D. STERN Salford, England
Make room, solar panels
Sir, – Regarding “US and Europe gradually replacing conventional power with renewable energy” (July 22), the Post correctly identifies wind power as a dominant player in the renewable energy market.
In fact, many of your readers might soon have wind turbines on their roofs. Already, the commercially viable Leviathan Energy Wind Lotus has been approved for connection to the Israeli electricity grid.
ALICE EIGNER Ma’ale Adumim The writer is a consultant to Leviathan Energy
More info, please
Sir, – Your article (“Health Ministry orders health funds not to pay Nefesh B’Nefesh to participate in absorption fairs,” July 21) is vague on how the NIS 300,000 is spent. There is a lot more information needed as to whether the amount is excessive or improper.
What I would also like to see is a comparison chart as to what each health fund has to offer and which is best for my needs, and an explanation on issues concerning pre-existing conditions. A list of medications and the Israeli equivalents should be included.
Whether manuals and literature are available in English should also be noted.
There are numerous facts that people should be made aware of before obligating themselves and their families for a year. Many people sign up with a health fund and then are sorry because they did not have all the facts.
HERSH LEVENTHAL Ramat Beit Shemesh
Israel and Tiger
Sir, – On reading Jim Litke (“It’s extremely rare to see Tiger playing out the string in a major,” Sports, July 20), I was prompted to reflect more on lessons we can learn about the role of the media rather than those to be learned from the struggle of Tiger Woods to regain form following his fall from grace.
Litke writes that Woods’s failure to win a major this year is proof that “romps off the course sapped nearly all of his strength and resolve on it.” Litke is completely wrong; the truth is in fact the opposite! While indulging in romps off the course, Woods won 14 majors, reached third for all-time wins on both the PGA and European tours, and has been PGA player-of-the-year six times. He stopped winning only when his wife found out and the media went to town in the most high-profile character assassination since O.J. Simpson.
It was the public exposure that almost destroyed Woods’s career.
Prior to that he was doing very nicely.
We here in Israel, suffering daily from the same kind of media assassination, would do well to pay attention. I predict that Tiger will return to his winning ways and chalk up many more victories, just as we here in Israel will outlast the deligitimization and double-standards thrown at us by the international media, and ultimately triumph.
Don’t let Botstein go
Sir, – Many Jerusalem music lovers were surely dismayed and disappointed as I was on discovering that Maestro Leon Botstein is no longer to serve as the chief conductor and musical director of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra.
Advertisements have recently appeared in the press calling for applications to fill these important posts.
As a dedicated music lover, a veteran subscriber to the JSO and an ardent admirer of Maestro Botstein, I sincerely hope the decision to terminate his tenure, no matter who made it, can still be reversed in the interest of the orchestra, the audience (including listeners to the orchestra’s broadcasts) and, above all, the city’s cultural scene.