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Two phrases that should not be in the same sentence: "Conversion Rabbi" and "Sex Tape Scandal"

My cold/flu has finally abated! I can’t believe how many Kleenex tissue boxes I went through in the past three weeks. Hopefully, my fibromyalgia, which was exacerbated by the cold/flu, will settle back into more manageable pain levels.

In the meantime, as usual, all the latest news on conversion has been piling in my inbox. Probably, you’ve already seen a lot of these pieces. My apologies to my loyal readers!
In the future, I hope to do these roundups more regularly so that they won’t be so time
consuming (this one took me two hours). In the meantime, if you’re hungry for up-to-the-minute updates on conversion in Israel, check out “Religion and State in Israel” where Joel Katz links to news as it happens.

“A Jewish Clinton” (NY Magazine) 12-4-2009

Really old news now but I was pretty sick of seeing the word shiksa repeated over and over and over again in the Jewish and secular press when discussing Chelsea Clinton’s upcoming marriage to a Jew. And personally, since all the articles were based purely on speculation on whether Chelsea would convert or not before marriage, I didn’t get the “news” aspect at all.

“How religious hypocrisy can hurt” (The Jewish Chronicle of London) 12-9-2009

Religious hypocrisy in the Orthodox world turned this woman off to the possibility of an Orthodox conversion. Don’t agree with the piece but it’s an interesting response to the JFS situation in Britain.

“A personal journey: Woman’s conversion to Judaism helps her through cancer” (The Eagle-Tribune) 12-11-2009

How wanting to die as a Jew led one woman to conversion to Judaism.

“Balancing two worlds: Christian moms learn how to raise their kids Jewish” ( 12-12-2009

Huh? According to Conservative and Orthodox Judaism, the child of a non-Jewish mother is not Jewish but more and more non-Jewish mothers are choosing to raise their children Jewish and even eventually converting themselves and their children.

“The unholy battle for Ethiopia’s remaining Jews” (Haaretz) 12-13-2009

The latest news in the “Who is a Jew?” conflict surrounding Ethiopian Jewry.

“After Strict Religious Upbringing, a Path Back to His Faith” (NY Times) 12-14-2009

Mr. Trepp was born in Little Rock, Ark. All he knows about his birth parents, he said, is that his mother was Puerto Rican and his father an Italian Jew. He was adopted as an infant by religious Jews and was converted to Judaism. The family lived first in Washington Heights and then in Far Rockaway, Queens.

“Want your adopted son to become Jewish? Act Orthodox” (Haaretz) 12-14-2009

This article about adopting non-Jewish children and converting them and the obstacles parents now face as the conversion process becomes more difficult, even for children, I wonder if people will reconsider adopting non-Jewish children or even bother to convert them at all.

“Israel’s Real Population Numbers” (The Jewish Week-New York) 12-15-2009

Conversion to Judaism as a fix for Israeli demographic problems? Eh.

“Outreach Rabbi Resigns Amid Cloud Of Scandal” (Jewish Week-New York) 12-15-2009

“Conversion agency founder quits amid controversy” (JTA) 12-17-2009

Anyone else sick of scandals involving rabbis? Anyone else sick of hearing about sad conversion stories? Well, this one’s a doozy.

“U.K Jewish School Found Guilty of Discrimination” (NY Times) 12-16-2009

“U.K. court: Jewish school racially discriminatory for excluding convert’s son” (Haaretz) 12-18-2009

The British supreme court ruled yesterday that a London Jewish school was guilty of racial discrimination for refusing to admit a boy whose mother was a Jew by conversion and not by birth.

‘E’ versus JFS (Jerusalem Post) 12-18-2009

“When the British noblemen and ladies formerly known as Law Lords became justices of the Supreme Court, they abandoned the trappings of formality such as wigs and robes. Thus Lord Phillips, president of the court, was bareheaded and attired in a business suit when he delivered Wednesday’s historic decision that London’s eminent Jews’ Free School, known as JFS, could no longer use Orthodox criteria of Jewish identity as the basis for its admissions policies.”

“Conversion controversy pits Jew against Jew” (Vancouver Sun) 12-19-2009

As the “nasty global battle over who is a ‘true’ Jew continues, Ottawa’s Rabbi Reuven Bulka has stopped converting people to Orthodox Judaism. Who will be next?

“Orthodox Rabbi Accused Of Trading Religious Conversion For Sex” (Gothamist) 12-20-2009

“Tal-mood for love: Sex-tape rabbi tries to ‘share’ hottie” (NY Post) 12-20-2009

An irreverent send-off to the latest news on the Rabbi Tropper sex-tape scandal. Shame on the NY Post for using the world shiksa so carelessly.

“Judaism Not Just A Matter Of Faith” (The Jewish Week-New York) 12-22-2009

Is the British Supreme Court confusing Judaism with Christianity? Non-Orthodoxy weighs in on whether or not the recent victory in a court case to get a child who converted Reform into an Orthodox day school is actually a victory at all.

“The Torah in Our Church” (

The amazing story of our church that en masse decided to convert to Judaism.

“British Court, Jewish Dilemma” (The Jewish Daily Forward) 12-23-2009

Just when I thought I was tired about hearing about this case in Britain, Rabbi Ethan Tucker—an amazing teacher whose session I had the pleasure of attending last Limmud NY—weighs in. A great piece.

“Advocate of Strict Conversions in Sexual Scandal” (The Jewish Daily Forward) 12-23-2009

“Rabbi Leib Tropper, a founder of the hard-line conversion group Eternal Jewish Family (EJF), announced that he had stepped down as its leader when allegations surfaced in news outlets that he had engaged in sexual misconduct with a woman while guiding her conversion. Tropper was among those responsible for major policy changes by the Israeli rabbinate that sparked a worldwide tightening of conversion regulations.” As Rabbi Seth Farber points out in the piece, Rabbi Tropper was most well-known for de-legitimizing the conversions of others, even going as far as to annul a conversion he had overseen because the woman in question had worn pants.

“Conversion Agency Founder Quits Amid Controversy” (Baltimore Jewish Times) 12-23-2009

“‘Rabbinical courts can annul conversion'” (Jerusalem Post) 12-24-2009

Another disheartening piece on conversion in Israel. When will it end?

“U.S. rabbi involved in sex scandal led fight against Israel conversions” (Jerusalem Post) 12-24-2009

6 thoughts on “Two phrases that should not be in the same sentence: "Conversion Rabbi" and "Sex Tape Scandal"

  1. So here are my questions: Who represents converts as a whole within the Jewish community regardless of denomination? Do converts need to organzie so that all of us can be treated with dignity?
    Would love to hear your thoughts on these questions.


  2. Shira, as far as I know no one represents converts in their own communities, much less across denominations. Rabbis are the ones who act to protect converts. In Israel, Seth Farber is proactive about helping both born Jews converts who have trouble with the bureaucracy of the Israeli rabbinate.


  3. I think Shira has a beautiful idea. Can we pull it off? Would many converts refuse to participate in a march with people they consider “not-Jewish”? Sadly, after rabbis the greatest enemy of converts are other converts who- in order to validate their own status are willing to throw other gerim to the dogs.

    How many gerim can we get marching down Fifth Avenue? How many gerim -and their friends and family- can we get to hold “NO more FEAR” signs at a rally? How many convert vigils can we hold across America.

    Let´s organize.


  4. From Ethan Tucker:
    One important corollary of this ethno-religious reality is that it was impossible for a non-Israelite man to become an Israelite. (In a patriarchal society, women could assimilate into the clan by marrying an indigenous man.) “Conversion,” as we think of it today, did not exist.

    So truly, only us “shiksas” marrying in, converting/joining the tribe, and raising Jewish children are following the ORIGINAL ideal of who is Jewish. Heh. 🙂


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