RCA renews call for respectful treatment of converts within Orthodox Jewish community

The Rabbinical Council of America at a 2015 Annual General Meeting.

(Dec. 12, 2016) – The Rabbinical Council of America, the leading organization of Orthodox rabbis in North America, today released a resolution, passed by direct vote of its membership, reiterating its care and concern for converts to the Jewish faith. The resolution notes that the Torah explicitly and repeatedly expresses great sensitivity and concern for the welfare and wellbeing of converts who may lack the social networks other community members often enjoy, and who may face great challenges integrating into Jewish communities.

The place of converts in the Jewish community has been in the forefront of the attention of the Jewish community and rabbinic leadership in recent years. The Jewish community has become more aware of the difficulties faced by many converts in fully integrating into the community, both formally and socially. Some converts report that they feel that their behavior is closely scrutinized, that they are not always properly considered for dating and marriage opportunities, and that people may, unintentionally, ask insensitive questions regarding their personal history and motivations.  The resolution urges the Jewish community and its rabbis to invest greater efforts in welcoming and embracing those who willingly choose to join the Jewish people.

The resolution calls upon rabbis, schools and communities to offer support to those in the process of conversion, as well as those who have already converted, such as Shabbat and Holiday hospitality, and general concern for their integration into Jewish communities. The resolution demands that religious institutions and communities not discriminate against converts and their descendants in any manner, and urges that they respect the convert’s relationships with their non-Jewish relatives, and their privacy, which includes not exploring their past or questioning their motives. The resolution emphasizes that “questions relating to the validity of conversions are the exclusive domain of relevant rabbinic authorities.”

Rabbi Shalom Baum, president of the RCA, emphasized “the RCA’s great admiration for those who choose to join the Jewish people and to embrace a life dedicated Torah and mitzvah observance. We will work closely with all of our members to welcome and embrace those who choose to join our community.”

About the RCA:

The Rabbinical Council of America, with national headquarters in New York City, is a professional organization serving more than 1000 Orthodox Rabbis in the United States of America, Canada, Israel, and around the world. Membership is comprised of duly ordained Orthodox Rabbis who serve in positions of the congregational rabbinate, Jewish education, chaplaincies, and other allied fields of Jewish communal work.

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