June 17: Seeing is believing

An Orthodox conversion only exists where the convert accepts unconditionally the obligation to keep all the commandments.

Seeing is believing
Sir, – I must take exception to Jonah Mandel’s “Jewish Agency to decide on Diaspora Orthodox conversions for Israeli citizenship” (June 15) for using the term “Orthodox conversions” when he really means “conversions carried out by rabbis claiming to be Orthodox.”
An Orthodox conversion only exists where the convert accepts unconditionally the obligation to keep all the commandments. In many of the cases to which Mandel refers, the rabbi, for reasons best known to himself, does not ensure that this sine qua non has taken place – and this is the underlying problem with the uncontrolled conversion industry in many parts of the world.
While I would not like to suggest that all these rabbis are intrinsically dishonest, there are numerous cases where financial or political considerations appear to have led them to accept converts whose commitment to Torah observance is, to say the least, highly questionable.
There was a notorious case some years ago where a former Miss World, who wished to marry a not- particularly observant Jewish millionaire, was accepted by the rabbi of a bona fide Orthodox community. Of course, she may have been sincere and he may have undertaken to be fully observant, but the circumstances inevitably raised eyebrows. As in all legal systems, it is not sufficient that justice be done, justice must also be seen to be done.
We’ve failed them
Sir, – The British statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke (1729- 1797) said: “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” If young Israelis think that promoting immigration to Israel is no longer necessary and that our olim merely burden the system (“Young Sabras becoming less supportive of aliya, study shows,” June 15), then we have truly failed to educate them on the very reason for the existence of our nation.
Are these young Sabras completely oblivious to the rise of anti-Semitism worldwide and the many documented incidents that are occurring almost daily? Do they not understand the times in which we live, and the global anti-Jewish atmosphere that will, undoubtedly, necessitate another exodus from many countries here to our safe haven? We cannot afford to see history repeat itself and stand idly by while Jews are persecuted and murdered again. Thank God that this time we do have our own country – one that must care for its own and not view immigration as an unnecessary burden.
Call for leadership
Sir, – The acceptance of a unilaterally-declared Palestinian state would cause great harm to peace and the stability of the Middle East (“US, EU officials in Israel work to block unilateral Palestinian statehood,” June 15). Should the United Nations do this, the United States should withdraw all funding, which is now about 22 percent of the UN budget.
The UN has been practically useless in maintaining any kind of Middle East stability. Helping in the establishment of a Palestinian state would be one of the worst actions it could take. The UN must be warned now, and the Obama administration must assume responsibility on this issue.
AL EISNER Silver Spring, Maryland
Tilted decision?
Sir, – Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer would have been well suited to direct the IMF and can be compared to Don Quixote of La Mancha, a chivalrous and brilliant technocrat who believed that truth will prevail (“Fischer felled by politics, not age,” Business & Finance, June 15).
Where Fischer cleverly departs from the Ingenious Gentleman is that his interventions include paying debts and limiting privations.