Jewish Conversion Scams Still Trying to Thrive on the Internet

A look at active frauds being committed by fake conversion authorities

RE: PunkTorah, OneShul, Darsha Yeshiva, Patrick “Aleph” Beaulier;
Chicago Conversion Beit Din, a.ka. “Skokie,”
Rabbi Johnathan Ginsburg, former Conservative rabbi

Follow-up to “Will Online Jewish Conversions Further the Chaos?” (Dec. 2013)

Conversion to Judaism is a topic that I have found myself discussing more often in recent years. Not just because of my experience with conversions and converts of diverse backgrounds, but more so because there are more people than ever brave enough to seek out Judaism. And quite often, people become interested in conversion. I love to help people in this very important journey.

Patrick More often than not I’m usually talking about the hardships imposed on converts to Judaism. I’m frequently calling out the system for the confusion, politics and suspicions which makes it more difficult than it needs to be. It’s a topic we all discuss, as this is quite possibly the most glaring problem in our community.

Rarely have I had to call out people for being unethically excessive regarding offering conversions. Its even rarer that I have had to call out people for offering fraudulent conversions and using deceptive outreach tactics, until recently.

Last month I began to report on a proposed online conversion program being advertised by PunkTorah (a.k.a. OneShul) and their matching Darshan Yeshiva. A program to perform non-denomination Conversion to Judaism under the auspices of a Beit Din (Jewish court) of Conservative Jewish standards convened by Patrick “Aleph” Beaulier, their leader and self-proclaimed rabbi. (see “Will Online Jewish Conversions Further the Chaos?“)

Patrick did spring into action and respond to me immediately after my write-up surfaced. After he communicating to me a sense of hurt and disappointment over my charges, I awaited a promised dialogue on this matter. In his first messages he did not hesitate to admit that by his own estimation 75% of the material was factual, but that I had just mis-characterized some things and he wanted to explain.

However instead of the discussions he promised, he immediately deactivated his own social media profiles, and began deleting the materials and videos which I cited. As most people pointed out, this was an odd move for a person who makes his living with an Internet presence.

Patrick’s mentoring parties also started restructuring their online presence in order to delete evidence of their actions as well. Among them again is the front-business for the expelled Rabbi Johnathan Ginsburg, under the name of and the Chicago Conversion Beit Din.

Today I will present you with some of what they have been suppressing and deleting. I will also present materials they haven’t deleted, and provide you access to a few permanently archived copies of their materials to reference. I will also explore how this is not just a former instance, but a current and active attempt by knowingly collaborating parties. People who are offering fake conversions to defraud unwitting persons online.

First off, in the matter of conversions offered by PunkTorah/OneShul. I do not wish to put words in the mouth of Patrick “Aleph”, their director. However, it was communicated to me directly that his in-house conversion program would most likely not be going forward. He cited personal hardship and a lack of time to commit to it. And a candid admittance that he wasn’t sure his program would really be helping anyone. While he didn’t actually address the issues I raised, his decision to not go forward with his proposed program is much appreciated and respected. I likewise have appreciated his toning down of his material’s for his Darshan Yeshiva, to focus on personal benefit and not about becoming pulpit-ready.


Item #1 -Patrick “Aleph” promoting Ginsburg by name in March 2013, for his conversion program at

However, there is one issue that he did directly address. His involvement in directing people to the shamed Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg. In private emails with Patrick “Aleph” he went on to assure me that he had stopped sending people towards Ginsburg as soon as he became aware his status.

He didn’t say when he became aware. However it is confirmed that he did send his own group leaders to Ginsburg in the past (many of the leaders are not yet converted), and that he never warned them of Ginsburg’s ban-status (most only hearing this directly from me last month). Some of them were devastated that they were perusing a fake program, while others among his on-line class hosts went on to expressed shame that they had themselves recommended Ginsburg for conversion to other interested parties in their capacity as PunkTorah leaders.

In the face of these charges I was assured by Patrick himself that the relationship with Ginsburg had long since been severed, and that he would not be recommending this program anymore. Patrick says once he knew of the charges against Ginsburg he stopped sending people his way; that is his claim. And it is a complete lie.

Why should we be concerned about this involvement of this Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg? There are moral and legal issue related to him aside from whether or not he is selling fake conversion certificates. (see his Tumblr and one of his many personal websites; including “Rent A Rabbi” and the one for his institution called “Rodfei Kodesh.”)

Simply put, Ginsburg is banned from the Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative Judaism. He was forced to resign and is not eligible for readmission to the rabbinate, after settling a sexual abuse and exploitation suit from a female convert and rabbinical student of his. An affair to which he to admitted publicly. (see his profile at the website of The Awareness Center, Inc., the international Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault, JCASA)

Ginsburg did not soberly cease his activity after censure. Instead he unrepentant and defiantly went right back to work doing the same stuff as before, namely conversion and ordinations. However now without any rabbinical authority at all. I previously mentioned:

“[12/14/2013] In fact, earlier this year (August 13, 2013) the Rabbinical Assembly of the Conservative Movement had to reiterate their disavowal of Ginsburg because he has been continuing to build conversion and ordination outlets under other names (,,, watch him pitch for these programs of his on YouTube). The statement by the RA reads as follows:

‘The Rabbinical Assembly, the international membership association of Conservative/Masorti rabbis has received numerous queries regarding an organization known as the “Chicago Conversion Beit Din.” The Chicago Conversion Beit Din, one of whose principals is Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg, conducts long distance conversion and, according to their website, it is now sponsoring programs they refer to as “pararabbinic training.”

‘The Chicago Conversion Beit Din advertises that it will provide its students with a “Conservative Bet Din.” The Rabbinical Assembly, as the world’s sole membership organization of Conservative/Masorti rabbis, wishes to clarify that, as a body, we do not endorse the work of the Chicago Conversion Beit Din and will not endorse conversions completed under its auspices, for any purpose, including to seek citizenship in Israel under the law of return.

We have been asked whether Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg is a member in good standing of the Rabbinical Assembly. Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg is no longer a member of the Rabbinical Assembly, nor is he eligible for readmission. The RA has no association with nor does it endorse or recognize any bet din or other program run by, or participated in by Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg. Even if Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg does not participate in the bet din personally, the RA does not recognize or endorse any conversion under the auspices of the Chicago Conversion Beit Din.” [emphasis added]

Now, the connection of Patrick “Aleph” is more than as a simple recommendation akin to passing on someones business card to a friend. Patrick’s first “ordination” comes from Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg and his organization, where he claims to have received ordination in para-rabbinics himself. Patrick has also made promotional videos for Ginsburg’s conversion program as well (Note the URL of the website in Item #1, is

So what do we know about Let’s explore just some of the evidence that shows the level of deception and carelessness shown by those involved in this scam.

Fact: was founded and developed by Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg.

While Jonathan Ginsburg’s name is mud, and he is not recognized as a rabbi for any authoritative purposes any longer in the eyes of the movement he claims to represents (Conservative), that hasn’t stopped him from operating. He has merely pushed his two other cohorts forward.

But the fact remains, the program is developed and still overseen by Ginsburg in the noticeable background.


You can also see a Perma.CC copy of this page here

See the item on the right. The copyright here on a page says “Developed by Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg.” Please take notice of how, is also using a copyright disclosure from The latter being another program run with the help of PunkTorah board member “Rabbi Rob Thomas.” In an interesting but strange side-note, Thomas is also concurrently a board member of eSynagogue. Thomas directly mentions being ordained by JSLI – another fake, online conversion/ordination school attended and promoted by Patrick “Aleph.” Oddly, Thomas goes out of his way to mention Ginsburg and his founding of eSynagogue by name in his resume (please refer to my previous article).

Fact: Ginsburg has been trying to hide his involvement in the Chicago Conversion Beit Din.

Ginsburg and his staff have cheaply tried to use a search and find feature to delete his name out of his websites (thus, leaving odd breaks in type and grammar behind to identify this). He likewise attempted to delete pictures which show him involved. However pictures and videos taken from the active site on January 21st 2014, show that he is actively overseeing the program.

Please note these are pictures of Ginsburg and his beit din, along with potential converts at the site of the conversions and mikveh:

Jonathan Ginsburg and his Beit Din



You can also see more at the archived copy of the page

In addition, please see the video presentation showing footage filmed by Ginsburg (holding the camera and speaking) and talking with candidates about their conversion experience with him. Please note that these videos were taken immediacy before and after the beit din was convened for these candidates:

Ginsburg: “What did you like best about the learning experience?”

Kathy: “I like the fact of how knowledgeable Rabbi Ginsburg is. Its very clear. He makes everything clear and concise, and easy to learn”

Ashley: “My name is Ashley, and I completed the conversion course with Rabbi Ginsburg. It was a great program because I was able to do it on my own time…”

Ginsburg: “…. looking forwards to having you Jewish in a few minutes.”

While claiming on the header to be supervised by Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Levine and Rabbi Neal Brief, there is no question about who is really running things. Obviously, Ginsburg is still the central pillar of this program. This fact of Ginsburg’s active involvement has needed to be concealed on paper as part of their faulty attempt to circumvent the ban again him. Without regard that their Chicago Beit Din (also listed as Skokie) is disqualified even if he isn’t directly involved, by virtue of being associated with him they are invalid.

The fact is the program was developed by Ginsburg. He is still there in the program. Levine might be the supervisor on the letterhead, however there is no question that Ginsburg is still the actual owner/operator.

These videos were originally uploaded to Youtube by Ginsburg in February 2013, and were active on his site up until late December 2013.

While Ginsburg has gone to great lengths in the past couple weeks to alter their homepages, he still has not been able to delete all of his telling videos from his JewishLearning profile on Youtube. You can also see in many of his hundreds of videos, branded with links back to one of his conversion websites.

Fact: This is not the only website operated by this Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg.

I say one of the conversion websites, because he has many websites. As previously explained is also the exact same program and organization also advertised at, and

GinsburgsothersitesHow do we know this? In their desire to have an aggressive web presence, they admit to creating multiple websites and domains. Please note, in order to “increase web visability” (in the image to the left).

Interestingly, Ginsburg has also been marketing conversions to the Spanish speaking communities. He even has websites set-up in Spanish to market his program .

Likewise, he is very active in promoting conversions outside of the United States. Boasting converting people from all the world including Asia, Europe, South America, Israel, etc.

Ginsburg provides a very interesting model, one that is very closely attempted by Patrick “Aleph” up until recently. The idea is to get people converted and then encourage them to seek “ordination” from you as well. (see “Judaism part 2 More online adult Jewish learning“) Ginsburg offers this in the tone of being the obvious next step forward. He doesn’t just have people buy into their fold, but he then make them a marketer and distributor as well.


You can also see the copy of this page here

One would think this type of false income would pay-off pretty well for Ginsburg. However, his need to milk a dime out of interested parties normally outside of the auspices of the synagogue goes even further. He also offers his Introduction to Judaism class for Christians. He has a dedicated website specifically for teaching Judaism to Christians.

Being freed of the hard work of doing false certificates and setting up the mikveh, he frees himself up in this program geared for his obviously Christian consumers. He advertises this program in this fashion: “The point of this course is not conversion, simply edification. People can gain a better understanding of what formed Jesus’ worldview, his practices and beliefs for example. Rabbis are available to answer your questions if you wish.” (see the Judaism for Christians Course)

Ginsburg is making money all around. Taking Christian’s money and making them more interested in Judaism, taking people interested in Judaism and making them into Jews for a fee, and then more costly taking new Jews and making them leaders and rabbis. This is an idea that is reinforced in people as the outside Jewish communities do not accept his followers and as a result they feel they must invest themselves deeper into the programs he offers.

Fact: Patick “Aleph” and PunkTorah by way of Darshan Yeshiva is still sending people to the Chicago Conversion Beit Din of Ginsburg and Levine.

One reason this is all so egregious and upsetting to me is because Patrick “Aleph” has not just lied to me personally, telling me he had stopped engaging in this long ago. He knowingly and with premeditation has been sending people that direction all along. Premeditation and intent is established because it is clearly evident that once he became aware that Ginsburg’s name was not marketable last spring, he then kept in step with the Chicago Beit Din and inserted Rabbi Levine in his place and kept up business as usual.

He still mentions Ginsburg and directs people to him. And this is still even after he started citing Levine’s name as the new supervisor. It also sadly displays how Patrick has been uniquely targeting certain stigmatized groups for this scam:


Patrick “Aleph” cannot claim simple ignorance in this matter. Keep in mind he was first ordained by Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg. It is inconceivable, in fact impossible, that Patrick did not know when promoting them as an authority for conversions that Ginsburg and Levine’s program were one and the same.

Patrick “Aleph” has been giving out the same website as he had given out before when hosting videos with Ginsburg, the same phone numbers he has given out before, the same email addresses as previously, etc. He cannot honestly expect the community to believe that he did not know that he was sending people to the exact same institution. We are talking about the office of his mentor and teacher, the officiate of his first ordination! Of course he knew where he was sending people.

His cheap excuses insult our intelligence.


(1/21/14) Patrick “Aleph” is still directing people to Rabbi Jonathan Ginburg’s Beit Din, using his successor, Rabbi Levine, as a contact. But notice how few clicks it takes to get to pictures of Ginsburg himself, merely five from the PunkTorah’s homepage and just one click from the homepage leads you to clear pictures of Ginsburg at work in this enterprise (see the video immediately above)

Furthermore, it offends my personal sensibilities as a punk rocker as well that Patrick “Aleph” has been promoting his work as a counter-culture, punk, open source and DIY approach to Judaism. (see “The Big Jewcy: Patrick Aleph“) But that isn’t true at all. See a bloger’s previous critique of that here. Also take notice of his disinterest to cooperate and really be Open Source when encouraged by Jewish professions in the comments sections of an articled titled “Do-It-Yourself Prayerbook“). He uses elementary punk terminology, while dismissing punk’s real virtues and values like corporate slime.

In the end, what facts reveal is that he has been part of a marketing scheme to try to funnel in people interested in the Jewish faith and make them into paying customers (now for only $4.99 a month to study Chumash at Punk Torah! Or $50 a month to join Ginsburg’s “online shul”). To say this program reeks of commercial capitalism, that’s putting it lightly. (see the “discounted” offers at, “Start your Jewish journey by enrolling today“) But that still isn’t my real issue with this program.

My real issue with this approach is that if offers false hope to people, and then sells them a conversion that is useless for them to actually utilize for any purposes. People who are selling conversions that are not only invalid in Israel, but are also invalid to anyone else that closely inspects them anywhere. At over $650/person (see “Convert Judaism: Paying With PayPal“) they are converting people they have never met and sending back to communities, unprepared for the reality of the shame they will face once the fraud is caught.

These people are being set up for a crisis later on when they go to do something like get married, or want to apply to a Jewish studies program, or even even further down the line have their kids attend a Jewish school or camp. Setting people up to later being told they are not halachicaly Jewish down the road, when the fake conversion rabbi is long gone. They give no consideration for how crushed and defrauded the person is going to feel. The convert will already be back in their home town or country, and the bills would have long since been paid by PayPal. There is no consequences generally for the perpetrators of such scams, just for the person they sell this forgery to. People who rarely speak up out of their shame of being judged for being gullible.

This is not right, as this is a most terrible example of religious corruption being perpetrated here which has terrible emotional consequences for the victims.

Bottom Line: False conversion schemes like that of The Chicago Conversion Beit Din and the ill-fated attempt by PunkTorah/Darshan Yeshiva are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

The fact, is we do have a lot wrong with the conversion system. Actually, it’s worse than its ever been before.

While the Chicago Beit Din says they have Conservative standards, they will happily pull-off a

While the Chicago Beit Din says they have Conservative standards, they will happily pull-off what they consider a “Reform Beit Din” by Skype Video-Chat. See the ‘Common Questions’ archive

One of the problems for converts is that there is often a distrust of converts that goes beyond the issues of halacha. There is a general distrust, based on the assumption that progressive rabbis are being too easy, lenient and are merely selling conversions instead of actually enculturating people in Judaism. Of not having enough standards.

Of course the progressive rabbis charge the same, that the Orthodox system is so broken that some are selling conversion as well, without observance of proper standards; and they are correct in this matter as well. We all know and have heard of these such instances, its not hard to imagine (see “Special Sale on Conversions” at Ynet).

But the problem is that in the midst of such chaos there are real people who are getting hurt and lost in this battle over “Who is a Jew.” And in the battle of who is a rabbi, and who is a proper rabbi. And which rabbis have enough clout to do conversions.

And then there comes this story, as a horrible case in point which displays both abuse of the rabbinate and of the conversion process. A case which through its own bad form and example seems to validate the suspicion and doubts out there. This soils the dignity of the rabbinate and of the convert alike.

Instead of being brave halachic champions who are helping the rejected and needy, people like Ginsburg and Patrick “Aleph” are actually perpetuating the sense of distrust in converts and conversions courts.

The greater issue is that these parties mentioned are not authorized, nor are they dignified enough to testify on matters of personal status. They are people who because of their dishonesty and yet unrepentant pursuit of this scheme are not honorable enough to be trusted. They cannot be believed even as witnesses in our communities, let alone be recognized as judges and teachers in matters of Jewish law.

It's not just

It’s not just “religious fundamentalist” like me that are asking for Patrick to step-down. The counter-culture community has been asking this for some time. This brutal response comes from a forum comment, on a re-posting of his article on FrumSatire titled “Jewish Pluralism Means Orthodoxy Too

If Mr. Patrick “Aleph” Beaulier feels that he is ready to move forward honestly and ethically as an upright member of the Jewish people I feel that he should make some real steps towards redeeming himself. Shut down the Darshan Yeshiva, and donate the money he asked for to build such programs and give it back to the Jewish community as restitution, the spirit of which is spoken of in this weeks Torah portion Parshat Mishpatim.

Furthermore, give back all the contributed material that was provided by members of the group, returning it under a Creative-Commons Zero Open-Source licensing so they may utilize this material themselves and distribute it for the public use of all the Jewish community. Liberate the material as a free resource for the Jewish community. Work of a community based team should not be pay-walled in this fashion.

I would also ask him to hand over the PunkTorah concept and the control of this new independent cultural experience to the members of the community who helped build it. Do something really revolutionary, and stop treating the concept as a trademarked and corporate idea he owns and let it grow organically with the people who have built it up as their community.

Lastly, Patrick “Aleph” should stop calling himself by the faux title of “rabbi” and sit down as a student, submitting to the personal guidance and mentoring of a credible rabbi over himself. When Patrick can start fully admitting who he is and operate himself in a transparent fashion within our community, then we can talk about trusting this person again on a personal level. But it is certainly clear that Patrick “Aleph” Beaulier is not to be trusted as a representative of the Jewish people in any capacity on account of his continuous dealings in bad faith.

Additional Reading Material from Patrick “Aleph:”

For more information on Patrick’s “Aleph’s” approach towards conversion and his take on halacha, please see his piece titled, “Conversion To Judaism: Lies, Mistakes and Creating Jewish Identity.” (interesting that a person so crooked and dishonest uses the word “lies” so liberally in his many materials) In this peace he teaches people how to argue that their conversion should be recognized as valid after the fact. His last word on the matter is to arm a person with at Talmudic phrase that he didn’t actually cite or formally quote, saying that if a person comes to a Jewish community and says they are Jewish then they are halachically entitled to be believed. Learn how Patrick “Aleph” has been coaching people on how to pass objection and argue in defence of their status after the fact in this terribly poorly thought out and non-researched lesson.

Also take a look at his pieces titled, “Teachings About Conversion to Judaism (according to Winkler).” In this piece he shows his bottom line approach in that discussion as well: “If someone converts before a tribunal of Jews who are not qualified to perform conversion, after the fact, the conversion is still valid. The same applies to someone who was not questioned about his or her convictions or motives by the tribunal and it turns out that the convert converted for ulterior motives, or to someone who was not taught the essentials of Judaism.” Of course, being illiterate in Hebrew he didn’t provide any text or interpretation. But it tells a lot about how his mind works, what type of hurdles he is trying to scale and where he is coming from.

For some time Patrick “Aleph” has been talking about wanting to break the system when it comes to conversions and do it a totally different way from what we know today. His first topics when he launched PunkTorah and OneShul was about conversions, its been a central focus for them. But look at how in May 2009 he was already giving everyone a notice of where he was going. See this article at titled “How to Save Judaism: Better Marketing!” Patrick was not too shy to state, “Second, we need to improve our conversion rate. In order to do this, we need to change what it takes to convert to Judaism. Telling people that it takes a year, intense study, and a religious court does not bring people into the fold. It just creates resentment. Instead, let’s look at the conversion of Ruth and the trials of Abraham as models for a new form of conversion, one that looks at the heart more than the brain. I would love a time when a person could simply go to a rabbi, say they have a Jewish heart, and could take home a Torah and commentary simply saying, ‘this is us…if you want this, take it’ and the following week be in a mikvah.” [emphasis added] Someone actually asked if he was joking, but of course he never replied.

Related articles:

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93 responses to “Jewish Conversion Scams Still Trying to Thrive on the Internet

  • Will Online Jewish Conversions Further the Chaos? | Hardcore Mesorah

    […] please see the follow-up: “Jewish Conversion Scams Still Trying to Thrive on the Internet” (Jan. […]

  • animalizard

    They all have something in common, apart from being online. They’re all American. Problematic. Given that no authority here in Europe will recognise American conversion, orthodox or not.

    • "Shmu the Jew"

      whats interesting is that they convert people from all over the world, knowing they wont be accepted. See this video of him converting an Italian who flew out to Chicago:

      • animalizard

        I live in Florence…’Luca’ would be laughed out of the sinagoga..
        Aside from the ‘fakeness’ of the conversion taking place, which is entertaining but headtotable material. Intentionality in converting will always be in question, but for some reason, in America it isn’t. Which I find religiously and intellectually insidious.
        PS Punktorah Patrick is not ‘ethnically’ Jewish. It’s like some sort of colonial regime he’s running over there, for apologists who desperately want to escape their drab social whiteness and ‘go ethnic.’
        What Jew wouldn’t find this voyeuristic and appropriative?

      • luca

        ehi, this is Luca from Italy!!! ….animalizard, I attend either Reform or Orthodox Communities in Italy , The Reform fully accept my conversion, the Orthodoxs say it’s ok but I should go another step further to have it recognized… you can laugh as long as you like, and maybe we can chat in Italian since you live in Firenze? no?

    • "Shmu the Jew"

      i would agree with you on the strange voyeurism. and there is certainly a lot of issues related to some ethnic or social class issues which some people are trying to settle by “going Jewish.”

      but its not just voyeuristic white people. it is also ethnic people. for instance i am Mexican-American, a Californian for many generations but I am quite ethnic. some of us shake our heads when turn on the TV and we also see other Latin people trying to change themselves, sometimes for the purpose of social acceptance and with the appearance of social climbing through conversion and Judaization. sometimes the psychological bend is a bit off with some converts now and again, see how this topic slips into a documentary about personal appearance once

      “In another case, a woman from Mexico, now settled in Los Angeles, US, has undergone cosmetic surgery to change the shape of her nose to a more “Caucasian” shape. Lisa Fuerst says SHE WANTS TO LOOK MORE LIKE THE WOMEN WHO ATTEND THE SAME SYNAGOGUE AS HER NEW HUSBAND. This so-called “westernisation rhinoplasty” is carried out by Dr Paul Nassif and is a complete success.”

      She talks about how her husband his white Ashkenazi and she wants to be like all her friends at the synagogue now. She talks about getting her nose done after getting married, “… i went one step further and decided to get my nose done.” Freud would have a field day. Some people are willing to literally carve out their faces to fit in with the Jews. Think about that. It’s wrong on so many levels. And we as a community should be ashamed for letting pockets of people encourage that type of self-hatred

      People of all ethnicities have a right to convert to the Jewish faith. But we should help them embrace Judaism and show them how their cultural experience can contribute to us, instead of morphing them into something else or hiding where they come from.

      • animalizard

        I disagree, being neither Ashkenazi or American.
        That lady’s experience is exactly what is wrong with conversation & intentionality- escaping & entering ‘whiteness’ are wrong on so many levels, primarily the spiritual. Focusing on how we appear socially & visually to others will act as a barrier between the convert and their community. And no, I don’t believe the problem lies with the community. I highly doubt her rabbi turned around and told her to rearrange her face as a mitzvah. Her intentionality in becoming a part of the community seems deeply racialized & mentally colonial re: her own origins- it is her mind perpetuating the myth.
        There is definitely no way that judéité and ethnic appreciation/appropriation are compatible in this context, and ‘assimilation’ is back in question.

        This reminds me of a documentary shown recently on Tunisian tv about British Islamists in Kenya, whose conversion to Islam had taught them nothing about spirituality & belief, but given them a post-imperial loophole to reactionary politics, religious nationalism, and a means to control, silence and re-enact their colonial dreams in the postcolonial state. Not to mention, escape the burden of their ‘whiteness.’ Where self-perception and subsequent behaviour is a problem, conversion is not a quick fix for underlying issues.

        I think you get my drift…I hate to use the word ‘othering’ but in my experience, converts’ behaviour, intentionality and ‘me me me’ process of inserting themselves into a community can often be as aggressive & othering as that of an antisemite’s.

    • "Shmu the Jew"

      I’ve been looking into Luca’s case. Yes, the same punk guy from Italy. after discussing how things were done and how they sold him on it, i understand the situation a lot better. And getting to know him (first after him cursing me out!) i have made a new friend. He has a lot of real sincerity in his love for Judaism. and he has some very good reasons to feel a connections to the Jewish people that is unique, mostly because of anti-semetism in the region he has grown to love the Jewish people. i respect and honor that. and i ask that you should too. his case may be problematic. but i believe his intentions are pure. he just didn’t have all the right information to make an informed decision. he just followed false advertising information, and with misunderstanding the laws and customs of this country. i would challenge you to get to know Luca, you may learn something.

      It comes down to this. Each person should have a rabbi that is respectable and upright enough to fight a persons case all the way to the top. Not someone who takes his money for these apparently forged papers and then has no responsibility after that. Notice none of these people are answering for themselves.

      This is why we do not make a business out of conversions. Because the Customer Service sucks.

      • luca

        Thanks for your kind words, well my initial hanger was due to the fact that I felt that people like me and many other were depicted by some comments on this site like some sort of “idiots” or like someone who’s looking for a shortcut into Judaism, well, I can speak only for myself….I can be an idiot from time to time, we all can be I guess……it would be too long and annoying for you people reading the entire story of my life, I spare you that. I wanna Thanks Shmu, we can have some dissagrement on certain aspects of this matter but from my experience I’ve rarely met two Jews who share the same point of view 100%, I’m glad we can talk and exchange our experiences. Have a nice day everyone

      • animalizard

        Haha. Look, the last thing we want it to imitate the other main two theist adaptations. Their conversation is on a basis of coercion, picking away at society when they are at their most vulnerable, then laying down the law when they are back on their feet.
        I have lived in two deeply Catholic countries & two Islamic states, so I know.
        Now I live in Italy. Look, the atmosphere here stinks of a revival of the idea of ‘legitimate anti-semitism’ and a lot of it is religious-based. So non-racists wonder why their faith is following a doctrine of racism, but instead of sorting their own faith out, they give up precisely because of collective guilt, which end up at one place. Thinking conversion is the answer.
        Conversion has never been the answer to anti-semitism. What we need here are some decent anti-racist theorists, and there are none. Just anti-semitic and philo-semitic Italians, the former who want to deport us, the latter who want to become us, because the believe manufacturing their own victimhood will somehow cause the former to realise the hurt they cause, and ‘repent.’ Luca is not unique, I’ve seen it a thousand times before, and I get it, but philosemitism is just not the answer to the problem they want to fix.

        Oftentimes rabbis will refuse them here (almost always unless in cases of intermarriage), and it’s just the worst feeling when they go behind our backs and purchase their jewishness.

        We can’t be bought. This may be the online era, but communities can’t be bought. I don’t care how many times you jump in a fake reform mikveh, you are not a jew, because you did not do it in the respectful, honest way.

        Now we have to deal with a lot of very physical racism here, and maybe Luca, whose answer was to join the community to defend us, has a role to play here. I am genuinely not a xenophobic person.
        I do however, have a problem with those who make a mockery of our tradition- anyone can search online to find the accepted means of conversion, and in Italy, as everywhere else, we only accept Orthodox conversions. Anyone who tries to go around that after being rejected should question why they were rejected int the first place, and whether they even have the honesty to perform mitzvot.

        But honestly still, the intentionality sucks. I know not everyone is brave enough to be a vocal anti-racist, but one more white person desperately needing to be a victim won’t help us. What will help is if they stay in their own community of faith, and change it’s trajectory, because right now we’re heading down a path of crackpot roman revival and blood libel.

        Racists are empowered by those who acknowledge them through fear. And oftentimes converts give them just that, because they need to nurture their own sense of victimhood to invisibilise the fact that they come from the community of aggression, that they were complicit in silence, etc, and their only answer is to change their identity. It’s wrong. They are not doing it to get closer to G-d, but to appear transformed in the eyes of our community and theirs, and honestly, Italy doesn’t need anymore white saviours. There are too many pseudo-Jesus types here who need to save us, rather than allowing us our own voice, become us, a guilt-complex need for acceptance by a community under attack by their own, I could go on.

        Anyway, no more white saviours. They either think they’re victims of our presence (I kid you not), or victims of anti-semitism. Either way white people always have to be the victims. It’s tedious. Philosemitism is the other racist side of Janus.

      • "Shmu the Jew"

        and we philosophize….. gosh us jews cant like anything can we? 😉

        im looking at an individual here. he says hes for real. i think hes for real. but thats the decision of a rabbi, and not mine or yours to make.

        whereas i would agree that going outside of ones country is looked at weirdly. but its a reality that is going to happen more often as most countries are left without authorized rabbis to do conversion. INCLUDING the United States. in the Orthodox system, it has always been the case to send people to other states or big cities to do conversions, but you work with a local rabbi for the learning and counselling process.

        intentionality in C an O is rare, but is not unheard of (when the person studied in person here for the entire period).

        a person’s actual halachic status doesn’t change by region and time zone. right?

        sure there are communities that dont accept converts. Syrian Jews, perfect example. no matter where or how, they never accept converts. it may be their minhag, but its not Torah true or appropriate.

      • animalizard

        I would disagree, as a sephardic Jew. Communities which accept converts are almost always converts in ‘origin’ themselves and trying to cover up the questionability (is that a word) of their own matri-judéité. Each to their own, but you cannot impose your (ashkenaz?) adaptation on other communities, or deem it ‘not Torah true’ when trying to camouflage your own origins, or will to change Judaism to suit your own needs. Needs rooted in time and space rather than a transhistorical spirituality.
        The point is, only honesty will bring you respect in true Jewish communities (not fake reform communities or those who want us to mirror Euro-patriarchal patrilinial assimilation). And there is something deeply dishonest about going out of one’s country, because you are trying hide camouflage your conversion, perhaps make it seem more kosher by making a ‘travel’ effort, or hide it from your own community for fear of judgement. Shame is the worst. It has patronage written all over it.

        There are over ten Orthodox rabbis in Roma, both Ashki and Sef in Milano, and at least one Orthodox rabbi in other major cities here, usually two.
        So again, to stoop to going outside of your locality is a slap in the face to that community, and he’s made a counterproductive move in doing so. No one will accept him now, because he’s made them feel like the strict mother who says no, and is rejected in favour of father’s opinion, or overruled in the patriarchal sense. The whole thing is very hush-hush and smeared with the colonial attitude we experience here anyway. What’s the point in heroizing white American Jews when they can’t even treat their own ‘Other’ with tolerance?

        I won’t go on a nonsensical anti-American rant about the conscious whitening of Judaism in these fake ‘reform communities’, but surely you see my point? This individual has acknowledged a hierarchy, and the message is, ‘well I care more for their recognition that yours.’ That’s insidious.

      • "Shmu the Jew"

        ok. let me point out that this conversation when from being theoretical to personal when Luca had the balls to come here and make a defence for himself and make his story heard. he didn’t have to. actually many converts become obsessively annoyed with their conversion status being known or talked about period.

        and Luca, if at any time this gets beyond what you are willing to discuss and when you think it goes to far. you know how to reach me, ill stop it immediately. but i think this type of attitude your getting displays some of these ideas in the Jewish community that our rabbis and leaders certainly should address.

      • luca

        Just one last thing…..given the fact that you said you live in Florence and that I “would be laughed out of the Sinagoga”, it just happen that I hang about Florence a lot. I spent last Yom Kippur in Florence, mostly with the Reforms but given the fact they didn’t hold a mincha service we went to the Orthodox Sinagoga, Via Farini ( I guess you know it, I was introduced to their Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Levi, I guess you know him well), nobody laughed me out of the Sinagoga that day. So try and be a little more respectful toward people you never met or don’t even know, jumping to conclusions as you did and judging people is not good neither for you nor for me 😉

      • euphemide

        A year was passed but I hope to have some answer. First of all sorry for my bad english. I am an Italian who now lives in Crete for work, I travel a lot, and I only stay in a city for one or two years. I want to become a jew since i was fourteen, because i love and respect the history, the culture and the religion of your people. At that time I was too young for taking a seriou decision, and then the “teen” and rebellious year striked. Between 20 and 25 year I was too busy with university and I think still too young. Now I am 29 and mature enought to take a serious decision. Bu I have some problems: I travel a lot, so I have not a community, and now I am in Crete where I hope to settle down. In additio here in Crete they have only one synagogue and, I think, only one jew, the guardian, and no Rabbi. I was searching the Internet for the possibility of an online conversion and now i read they are all scam. This is so disappointing. .. any advice?

      • "Shmu the Jew"

        Yes, a year has gone by! But this topic still remains active and well discussed. So much so, that I have been sent several graduate school research papers written concerning these online Jewish conversion ideas. And what we all seem to agree is this, that these online programs have not revolutionized nor even innovated anything in regards to conversion and recognition of converts. Instead they are doing a very old trick of selling what we call “private conversions,” ad-hoc conversions which most often are not recognized by the mainstream Jewish public.

        One of the realities which many of us need to keep in mind when dealing with Europe especially is that there is often a smaller Jewish presence in many places, if any. And there are fewer liberal Jewish congregations on top of that. If you are interested in progressive Judaism I would get in contact with one of the most geographically local community, or one in a area that you have frequent direct contact with. Here is the list:

        I would also think that it would be a good thing to maybe get to know the new Rabbi of the community in Athens, Rabbi Gabriel Negrin, who himself is only 25 years old. He is described as a very lively, and “liberal Orthodox rabbi.” I hear he studied music and sound engineering in Crete. Sounds like a passionate and warm man. He might be able to help as well.

        The truth is that in most places, outside of the major cities with large Jewish populations, you will not easily find the presence of conversion courts. It has always been the case that people need to move to a community, or at least study for an extended period inside an active Jewish community. But even in major cities with all the infrastructure, it is still a very lengthy and time consuming endeavor. Generally taking 1 year to 18-months of study, learning and meeting with your sponsoring rabbi.

        What we need to remember at all times is that Judaism is a journey. I see that you have been through a lengthy journey of self-exploration, like I have. But just as with the roads in our lives, many times our path to Judaism is not always so smooth and direct. Sometimes it is a stop and go process. But we are not in a race, we are on a journey! And there are a lot of lessons to learn along this journey, that will come in handy when you get to your destination as a Jew. Be patient and work through the process, just as you would with anything else which you truly value!

        In the end we need to remember that the point of being Jewish is not to gain some sort of recognition for one’s self as a Jew, but it is to be an active part of the community of the Jewish people and to maintain the cherished Jewish faith.

        When I say that Judaism is a journey, we should also understand that for Abraham, the founder of the Jewish faith, he became a Jew when he followed G-d’s demand to, “Lech lecha!” (get up and go!; Gen 12:1)

        I am not a rabbi, I teach Judaism and Introduction to Judaism under the supervision of my own Rabbis. But I will give you the advice that was given by a Rabbi in my state whom I respect very much:

        “If your heart is tugging you towards Judaism, don’t settle for an “online conversion.” Call your local synagogues, and find a rabbi and a community with whom to explore Judaism if there is no local synagogue, then ask yourself if you, like Abraham, need to “get out of your land, and from your kindred, and from your father’s house, and into the land which [God] will show you.” [Genesis 12:1]

        “If it is meant to be, then a Jewish community is waiting for you.” (Rabbi Adar, the Coffee Shop Rabbi)

      • euphemide

        I have really appreciate your answer, and I agree, this is a journey, not a rush, so in the meantime I will improve my knowledge about Judaism. And for shure I will go to Athens for getting in touch with the local community. A really close friend of mine, who is Jewish, told me that to be Jew is like to be in a big family. I hope to find my way home soon.

  • rabbiadar

    I, too, am deeply concerned about the phenomena you describe. I have written a piece “Choosing a Rabbi” on my own blog that I hope will be helpful to sincere seekers of Torah.

    • "Shmu the Jew"

      Thank you, Rabbi! These are wonderful pieces. And thank you for putting yourself forward to show the sincere people of this community that they aren’t being shunned. Or tossed under the bus. And you offer such clear and practical advice, with true care for the individuals. I appreciate you very much

      definitely this makes me appreciate and reconsider how important involvement and membership in a local shul is. or even watching a local congregational feed, if you cant join that week. and if we have the privilege of access to good rabbis, we should certainly utilize their expertise and not be lone-horsemen in our Jewish Journey.

  • Ian

    How will the RA help those who have been scammed into this, even if they were involved in a community when they could? It seems good to talk about the problems, but how will the conservative movement actually stand for converts and make it right? Another idea is perhaps a class action law suit against Ginsburg? If they are ignored, than injustice will live on.

    • "Shmu the Jew"

      Let me describe the current situation. The morning this blog entry came out i chatted with the PunkTorah Friday night group leader and their main contributor to programming. He only recently stopped payment on the yet incomplete conversion to Jonathan Ginsburg. Think about that, they were misleading his right hand man.

      For a suit, that is their decision to make that i think would be appropriate. Heck, id love to further see this brought up by a Beit Din if these guys have any backbone. But I hear all legal options are still on the table, including those which do not rely upon damages.

      However, when it comes to the issue of how the RA is going to help them out. Understand that in almost all cases these people do not have access to the RA (because they are out in the country, or overseas), if they did they wouldn’t be going this route. Other case, sad but true, some of these people are of such complicated religious backgrounds and often poor mental health, so that conversion would not be offered to them anyhow. These are people who are going this method because they cannot go by normal means to get converted because of distance or even their own social awkwardness. Its not as easy and clean of a thing as, “lets absorb all these people now, to be menschen.”

      in fact Patrick’s position has been to provoke just that, to get people converted and then in the face of people saying their conversion isn’t legitimate, teaching them to say “but halacha says YOU HAVE TO ACCEPT US.” his idea is that just start doing conversion, like your breaking prohibition and the system will have learn to accept it. thats not ever going to happen (nor are his justifications valid anyhow).

      I dont think that the RA, who has no relation to these people, and who are doing something the RA has been trying to stop for years, are obligated to have to remedy the situation they have been vocally objecting to. they should not have to accept the responsibility for of actions of people outside of their auspices or realm of control. Truth is a great level of fault also does lay in the person who was defrauded, for not exploring the program first and asking questions; it is a persons responsibility to go into something with eyes wide open and willing to accept the consequences for themselves as well.

      Again, just because Patrick decided to go off of center doesn’t mean everyone else should now re-celebrate over to the left in response to him.

      It is a terrible situation. but it is not right for us to demand our rabbi to have to fix it all and make it better, with no fuss or consequence. we cannot say to our rabbis, “Will you honor and match Patricks Aleph’s advertised special on conversions, and match it? But, they drove all this way. And them and their friends were really looking forward to being Jewish.”

  • Shona

    This is sickening. As a giyoress myself, I’ve encountered a few offline scams back in the day regarding conversion. Here you have people (well some of them) who are honestly trying to forge their path and relationship with Hashem. We need knowledgeable teachers (rabbis) from the community in order to do this. Spiritually, we are like toddlers….completely dependent. How can these clowns take advantage of that? Something very spiritual….and twist it around for their own personal gain?

    I really don’t know how these people even sleep at night!

    • "Shmu the Jew"

      I completely understand. I am in discussion with Jewish professionals and rabbis in order to see what we can do to help people make that connection that they need. People are certainly upset that they are losing PunkTorah with no other options really presenting themselves. Most certainly, there is a need for an online Jewish collective and community. And yes we need competent rabbis. But I think what this experience also shows us is that we need to have lay people and the grassroots machers make their presence seen and help display for people how they can grab hold of the reins in their own journey in Judaism. Some of the problems with this incident is people just wanted a leader with a title to make them feel official, but what they got is demi-gogery. So the concept needs to be re-tooled.

      Over the next few weeks ill be considering peoples advice on what “the next” step is. Where online compassionate kiruv goes from here. Discussing what the Jewish community thinks is worth keeping, and what we need to do to avoid messes like this the future.

      One of the biggest problems though here is oddly this, not that the Jewish community is too hard and not accepting enough. In this case the Jewish community looked past a lot and didnt even explore his claims before promoting and praising him. They were too quick to give him acceptance and recognition. If the community and media had done some diligence in exploring his claims and taking his statement seriously, this would have never happened. But we were mostly all willing to look past it because of his enthusiasm. The lesson in this to the Jewish leaders and outreach folk, that foolish people will step up to the plate if we dont.

      What do you think will help you? The community wont be able to give all the people what they want, like onine conversion. But what do you think is most important to help people like you in your Jewish exploration and practice?

  • luca

    Wai, wait, wait Animalizard, who told you I wanted to convert with the Orthodoxs?, what do you know about my personal life? Are you sure you know Italian Jewry that well?…..I would like to remind you that apart from Orthodox communities do exist at least 4 Reform Congregations. You may like it or not, you can consider like watered-down Jews, that’s your problem, not mine!…..I studied one year withan Orthodox Rabbi in Italy I chose to stop I wasn’t rejected….can you allow me to not to agree with some of the approches Orthodoxs have toward certain isuues???…I’m not anybody saviour, you are wrong, I could tell you what line of work I’m in, but better not. I could tell you I had a Jewish grand grand mother who was forced to convert to Catholicism, I could tell you that my pro-semitism isn’t the ONLY reason for my conversion. You don’t want converts, once again that’s your problem….have you ever tried to enter an Italian Synagouge on Shabbat ( apart from Rome)???…..they don’t even have a Minyam, most of vthe peole are over 70 years old… this a bright future for Italian Jewry isn’t it? Why didn’t choose to convert in Italy with a reform Rabbi? Simple: There’s none, all the reform Rabbies working in Italy are Americans or Canadian.

  • luca

    just another thing: who told you I was raised a Catholic and that I wanna escape that Religion? Are you a Prophet or someone who can read people’s mind?

    • "Shmu the Jew"

      oh my. yesss. its my bedtime. im gonna leave you morning glories have at the day. you two “play,” ill be back later. hahaha

      ill try to touch bases before shabbat, for sure. truth, i enjoy our conversations. now that you know i dont eat small children alive and glory in destruction! 😉

      • animalizard

        Hey papa, can you mediate? This is all getting very personal and attack-like. I’m not sure I like where this is going so maybe you can ‘feed’ me out of this feed. Layla tov.

      • "Shmu the Jew"

        I’m got. I know, this topic is sensitive anyhow. Laila tov, achi.

      • animalizard

        Papa Jew, you did patronise me but I’ll let you away with it this time. (feel scared because I’ve been to these crackpot sephardic wife selfdefense classes- true)
        Also, I can’t reply to any of Luca’s comments which is frustrating but probably for the best, as he makes some wild & very personal assumptions about me, and the fact that he seems to think Italian Jews, all of whom live in & around Safed now (yeah, the ones with actual Jewish mothers made aliyah and the other little piggies stayed at home- no pun intented, truly), are Transhistorical Hebrew Slaves. Somebody’s been to see Nabucco one too many times.
        Anyway, Jewishness is not an opera, although if it were, the neo-reform community would do a pretty good job of making it as messy, loud, and self-declaring as they could. Seriously, it’s like pre-Reformation Vatican indulgences out there with these bought-n-paid-for net pseudoconversions. Are they raising money to pay for their own Orthodox conversions? (Sorry, I had to.)
        And seriously, can everyone get past the stereotyping of sephardim? It’s cruel, has overtones of racism, and intellectually impotent, and feels like a personal attack on something I can’t help, having been born sephardic, stroppy, and proud. Are we really structured to make sense of each other in such mentally colonial tropes? Let’s get beyond the ‘we and they’.

        So yeah, unable to comment for blockage reasons, and stanca, which is Italian for tired, so layla tov.

        Tell Luca to email me if he can actually brave a conversation in which it’s not just him commenting from behind a blockwall, and me ‘taking my portion.’ I’m a grown woman who doesn’t like being lectured to. I’ve already got my higher authority for that, and it doesn’t involve il
        patriarcato italiano.

      • "Shmu the Jew"

        You asked me to moderate you out. Lol Ok your in, again. I think. No its not an attack. Oy Italians. I’m saying there are certain things about being Sephardi he doesn’t get. The tropes and practical life experience that seems obvious to us. And how we view jurisdiction also, so to speak. I’m just saying be nice. That’s it

      • animalizard

        I’m not Italian. Nor do Italian Jews live in Italy, they live in Safed. If I were Italian, I’d been living on their olive-growing kibbutz and laughing about the fact that those who didn’t get to make aliyah still think they form an ‘Italian Jewish’ community back in Italy despite the fact there’s not a Jewish Ima to make challah between them.

        Be nice? -_-
        Papa Jew, I can be nice. But I tend to reserve it for people who don’t patronise me, don’t racially stereotype me (oy), rather than those who think this theyifying Othering approach is a good way to announce your ‘coming’ to the community. Messianic complex much, Italian men. See I get to say that because I have to live among them, and deal with their crackpottery.
        And that’s not stereotyping, it’s personal catagorical experience.
        Okay there was so much more I wanted to say here, but now you two have made me feel like a naggy ragazza sefarada chewing her jaw off just to prove a stereotype. Maybe you’ll read between the lines and get that I’m not being personal (I genuinely amn’t) but foresee a Hot Mess emanating from these new Liquid Era (I threw in Bauman to help you out ashkenizically) nonconversions. Aside from inherited parentage and tepid tribalism, how can I take my own very personal, very important monthly mikveh experience (one of the few mitzvot we women actually keep) seriously if some PunkTorah pseudorabbis are throwing random internetpeoples in and calling it conversion? I mean, really? Obv. a different mikveh, but Luca could have been a Laura.
        Just respect the already-existing community. Why is that such a hard thing?
        If it’s not in-your-face-racism, it’s gosh-we-have-to-change-everything-now-I’ve-arrived or I-didn’t-like-your-unenlightened-rules-so-here-are-my-new-ones. Post-imperial mentalities much?

        Sleep? I do yap on, don’t I.

      • luca

        My dear Florentine lady, you keep offending and judging people ( an entire country at this point!!!) you don’t know. Now we all know you’ve learned 3 Italian words, good for you!!! ( what are the others?: Mafia, spaghetti, mandolino, Pavarotti?). I don’t need to email you or get in contact with you,before you must take the effort to learn how to respect people and mind you: watch your mouth before posting certain comments if you don’t wanna get the same treatment. How would you feel if one morning you would find a you tube video with you in it and people LIKE YOU who start ranting and mocking about? ……maybe you didn’t expect I could find this site, right?….anyway, let’s stop it here.

      • animalizard

        Haha, you’re learning. Look, this isn’t about me or you, or even the fact that I do speak Italian beautifully after many struggles, or even the fact that my opinions of this country have been defined by being on the receiving end of its racism. It’s also not about the fact that you shouldn’t start a comment with ‘dear lady’ and go on to treat a woman like an ignorant immigrant when she’s probably a hybrid of the two.
        It’s not about any of those things. It’s about the fact that you did something which is the halachic antithesis, and are now trying to justify it by attacking someone who calls you out on it.
        Anyone can google ‘online conversion’ and now that it makes a mockery of those individuals who go through the real conversion process, which can take years, and changes someone from the inside out. Not from the outside in.
        Which is exactly what this pseudoconversion has done for you. Who says ‘watch your mouth’? You can’t command others to follow your interpretation of submissive womanhood, because we don’t have that where I come from, and I don’t intend to start putting a third person between myself & Hashem now, at my age.

      • luca

        listen , I guess that’s enough, don’t you think so? I don’t give a toss about who you are, if you are a man or a woman, black or withe , American or Danish,I don’t give a toss about your jewishness, and I don’t give a toss about your fanatism and about your personal concept of Halacha, you’re just a spoiled,too sensitive, pompous individual regardless of your your gender who judges other people…..this is somenting that has nothing to do with Judaism or Religion, is something that should have been taught to you by your family when you were a kid… you are an old lady, it’s too late.I’m afraid. As for Italy being a racist country….well you should wonder if people treat you in way you don’t like because of your attitude and not because of your religious beliefs. I’ll stop here, out of respect for Shmuel and his site, ……oh! I gotta go! I locked my wife in the bathroom, I don’t wanna she go out alone, I’m jelous, then I’ll whip her and abuse her… know I’m an Italian man!!!!!! take care Jewish Princess.

      • animalizard

        Umph. I think you went far enough. This brings the saying ‘showing your true colours’ far enough. Maybe when you’re old enough you’ll understand that Torah is for everyone (anyone can have a relationship with Torah), but being Jewish is something extra, and you can have that something extra when you go through the proper process, and honour all the individuals who have made that journey.
        Coerced conversion and coercing a community to accept your invented pseudoconversion are two sides of the same coin, and neither are halakhically acceptable. Aside from halacha, they shouldn’t even be acceptable on a human level, because they come from a very mentally colonial logic.
        I urge you to stop pettily insulting me (this isn’t about us) and think deeply about my reaction as part of the problem you initiated by rejecting pre-existing traditions and laws in your local community, sending out the message that they weren’t good enough for you, and imposing your own assumptions re: what being Jewish is about. That is not for one invidividual to define, it has already been defined by millenia of experience, practise, and often pain, the by-product of exile. And that a pre-existing community carries that remembrance, should be respected.
        There is a reason for why militias in Mogadishu this morning burnt down a colonial Italian cemetary.
        A racist won’t see the historical context, they will focus on the militias, invisibilising the colonial past and the decades of pain engendered by the Italian will to suppress the region’s religious self-determination. When the present-day Italian settlers in Mogadishu experience xenophobia when they attempt to convert to Islam, they ahistorically label it racist. The point is, the imaam will associate the settlers with the Italian missionaries he has to turn away from his door every day, who bully him by telling him he is hellbound unless he accepts yeshua etc yadayada. And should the settlers be mystified by this association, and create a new form of conversion to suit their own needs, well, need I go on.

        The point is, there is a colonial context to this debate too which relates back to exclusion in the imperial metropole, and the present-day xenophobia towards Sephardic/NA Jews in Italy, especially Roma, and labelling my reaction ‘alienating’ is merely part of the will to camouflage this historical context, and shift blame for this divisiveness onto the Jewish community, again again. It has roots, but the roots don’t lie with us.

        To put it simply, I would never hold you responsible for the daily racism I experience here, and I recognise that my own separatism grows greater daily based on these experiences, but here it is: this racism engenders suspicion in communities under attack, and when a member of the other community decides to join us we are left befuddled by their desire to experience the racism that emanates from their own community. However, they will get past that, and accept the individual, as long as they honour the process and don’t try to turn it into some colonially-rooted ‘you’re all backwards’ crackpottery.

        I don’t have answers, neither do I wish you any psychological harm by my comments, but you acccepted a quick fix for a problem that has long existed, and that we all should have fixed together by creating a dialogue, one for acceptance and mutual learning. Instead, you insulted our community by rejecting it in favour of an online pseudoconversion, and then labelling my reaction to its paternalist undertones as part of a ‘princess complex’.

        I don’t know which is worse, that my jewishness is pretty much all I have and that on your Italian caste ladder I’m the class antithesis to aristocracy, or that you think age is a disability. Or that you think Italy’s recently published statistics of domestic abuse & rape are foundations for comedy.
        No, I’m not the princess here. I’m a woman with a brain who learned the hard way that you can’t change prejudices and assumptions upheld by the modern materialist mammismo.
        I hope I will always be a thoughtful person, and hope I never lose the courage to respond to those with petty ageist, sexist, racist or mentally colonial assumptions.

      • luca

        …..again? do you realize what you are saying madam? How dare you? Who was the Rabbi who converted you? A mad man I guess!, so it’s YOU against the rest of the GOY world, right? You against non orthodox communities, you against italian men, you against italy and its history, you against racists, you against women who don’t go the mikwe….are you sure you are well????…….cut this colonial crap, please, and beside that given the fact that you seem to hate so much the country and the attitude of the people of the country you are living in…..have you ever considered moving back to where you come from?….as for Halacha, who are you to give lessons???…a Dayan? ora basta veramente, vivi nel tuo mondo ed io nel mio, son due mondi che spero non si incroceranno mai, io non ci tengo proprio. Ti saluto a mai piu’!

      • animalizard

        a) You should not insult the class status of migrants. I know it’s common practise here, but don’t. It’s painful.
        b) Don’t use sexual abuse as material for comedy and then try to derail. This has nothing to do with your national identity but the fact that you grew up thinking it’s okay to devaluate the debate on this problem by making fun of it. Those of us with histories of abuse don’t like to read devaluating jokes on things we’ve experienced.
        c) Please don’t regurgitate antisemitic stereotypes regularly called-upon by the Ultras etc re: Jews pose a challenge to Italy’s celebration of its imperial past. Just don’t do it. You’re merely inserting yourself into a category incompatible with your desired Jewishness.
        d) Your delivery and use of the word ‘goy’ is so utterly based on assumptions that Jews engender antisemitism that I don’t even have a response to it. Your employment of the word is rooted in antisemitic propaganda about Jewish supremacy, rather than its Hebrew hermanaeutics in understandings of multiples identities.
        e) Do you openly tell all North Africans and Jews living in Italy to ‘go back to where they came from’, or just those of us who have the uppity belligerance to learn English and Italian and actually argue back against your racism? How dare I educate myself? I mean, how dare I have an opinion and a voice when my very indigeneity is in question?
        You’ve pretty much regurgitated every ethno-nationalist antisemitic position in Italy in your last post, and you wonder why a community of essentially NA refugees might be astounded and hurt that you pass them over for some predictably-cosmopolitan capitalist moneymarketing internet pseudoconversion scheme. Because you can buy acceptance from those you wish to imitate, but you don’t worry about acceptance in a community you obviously loathe.
        I don’t even know if you can hear yourself. You think this is about ‘diluted’ vs ‘strict’ versions of Judaism. It’s not. It’s about the fact that you passed over your local community because you harbour racist mental colonialism towards them, and their acceptance doesn’t matter anyway.

        We do indeed live in different worlds, and I’m about to go back to my immigrant provincial impoverished inferior world, whilst you concoct some self-serving Dalian cosmopolitan upper-middle-class pseudoversion of Judaism where you pick and choose mitzvot according to your material needs of the day.

      • luca

        ok, after your last post everything is clear to me…..understood. I don’t need to add any other comment. Now I understand.

      • animalizard

        You’re number 37 on my art installation wall tick-chart of Italians who have told me to go back to where I came from. Laughably enough, a country in which Italian settlers still live in palatial opulence whilst publically calling for the removal of indigenous communities. We did not produce this ‘we and they’, you did. And even if you personally didn’t, you’re still contributing by trying to cover it up by ‘patronising’ the Jewish migrants displaced by this politic. That’s not an olive branch, it’s a form of denial.
        Maybe you should witness this before you tell a migrant to return ‘from whence they came’, whilst simultaneously demanding that they accept you are ‘one of them now’, but no, they can never ever be ‘one of you’.
        Too poor, not white enough, too Jewish, not cosmopolitan enough, ‘sorry but we’ll show you how to “do” Judaism even though you’ve been doing it since time immemorial’, and moreover, ‘then you have to go back to where you came from because you remind us of our own conversion.’

        And that’s not colonialism? Humph. 🙂

      • luca

        well, given your attitude toward this country and its people, I bet you soon gonna find n.38, 39, 40, 41………I wouln’d be surprised! But I understand now knowing hwre you come from everything is much clearer to me now. Fundamentalism and a must be in your blood it doesn’t matter if that’s Jewish blood or Muslim blood. You seem to have a problem in your culture with words like : pluralism and democracy. I’m glad you can find them here.

      • animalizard

        ‘In my culture’? Don’t forget this is the culture you are scrabbling to be a part of. Or not. Apparently you a reinventing your own imperial Judaism.

        Italy? Pluralism and democracy? Say that again wearing a kippah standing outside the Palazzo Venezia, when stormfront are ‘demonstrating’ and then we can talk. All you have are ideas of ‘what it would be like to be on the other side’ and no real experience of racism. Until you can confront it in your own community, don’t bother trying to escape its inevitable continuity.
        By the way, ‘its people’ is just wrong too. Clearly your ideas of Italian identity are rooted in 19th c. colonial inclusiveness and exclusiveness, so if you’re accusing me of the very same, I suggest you have tea with Cécile Kyenge and then reform your attitude to what you perceive as ‘fundamentalism’. It’s antiracism, and yes, it has to be as strong as that which it is confronting.

        Honestly, this is like when ‘white male saviour’ Jean Paul Sartre accused black anti-racists like Fanon in France of racism, because he couldn’t bear to have his own pampered colonial privilege encroached upon.

      • luca

        I wanna enter your culture?????????…….who told you that??? there’s nothing in your cuture that I like!

      • animalizard

        Then don’t convert. Semplice. Abbiamo risolto il problema.

      • luca

        your personal culture has nothing to do with Judaism…… ti piace chiamati pure Ebrea, ma tu di Ebreo NON HAI NIENTE. As for my conversion, well, let’s say that it is something that shouldn’t bother you since we are talking about two different worlds, thanks God ( I can write the Name).

      • animalizard

        There’s no such thing as ‘personal culture’. Personality sure, personal culture, no. Culture is produced by interactions and transferable traditions in communities. One who lives alone as a ferral child in a forest is naturally culture-free and unconditioned. Or maybe they imitate wolf cultures. We’ll never know. So I have no ‘personal culture’ that is divorced from my community and family.
        Secondly, you won’t be Jewish in the foreseeable future, because even the most reform-minded Jew would not use this Name in a sentence which is intended to hegemonise the idea of Him, and create an illusion of the other person having no relationship with him. That’s very personal.
        You seem to have mistook Judéité for some cosmopolitan DC pseudoliberalism. I suggest you join their party, or is this me telling you to ‘go back to where you came from’? It could be, or it might just be me telling you kindly that you’re confused, that you think you’ve been converted when you haven’t, that there is a possibility of acceptance but not when, on rejection, you label the members of that community ‘not Jewish’. So basically, in your opinion, ‘being Jewish’ is anything which converges with your opinions, your acceptance, anything which revolves around you and your racial prejudices, assumptions? Wouldn’t you say it’s rather insidious of you to claim to define Jewishness as the antithesis of a Jew you just happen to disagree with? I’m only the first in a long line of people you’ll disagree with on this and other things; Judaism is about conflict and disagreement as much as it is about compromise and peace. Just look at rabbinical debates on milhemet mitzvah, for crying out loud.
        We argue, it’s why we have mouths. But we don’t lash out, it’s why we’re Jewish.
        So get used to it, and don’t make it personal.

        Do you want to end this now or postpone until after Shabbat?

      • luca

        Time for you to go and make challot woman!!!….you better go. I don’t postpone anything, I don’t finish anything, I just go about my own life which is not made of bigotry or judgments thrown around at people I don’t know . You and me have nothing in common, and I’m happy about that. Should Judaism be what you are representing here, well I’m glad you don’t recognize me as a Jew…….but I’m sure it is something else.

      • animalizard

        ‘Woman’? Really? You just had to didn’t you. Because my existence is completely encapsulated by the fact of what is between my legs.
        Stop while you’re ahead, I’ve had enough nasty-minded elitist neo-liberal racial sexist colonial-minded, class-conscious bigotry and crackpottery for one day. Truly. Lashon hara, me and everyone else you have stereotyped incessantly in your posts.

      • luca

        you are obsessed with the fact that you are a woman……there’s nothing wrong with that in Italy, trust me!

      • animalizard

        Yes, in Italy you insert ‘woman’ at the start of every conversion to make sure we know our place, and that it is a one-way conversation, consisting of only your voice.

        Please challenge yourself to act in a way different from that which you have be structured to behave like. It would be a start to the conversion process.

      • luca

        you MUST have had serious problems, back in time, when you were living in some NA country……I suggest you go and see some good Analyst, he can helps you remove this problem.

      • animalizard

        No, all of my problems began when I entered this racist, sexist, classist living-embodiment-of-hell on earth. I’d rather go back to any regime with one dictator than live among a society of multiple dictators, each denying the fact of their own prejudices whilst working them into the pattern of their daily lives. Then wanting to ’emulate us’, on top of that mess.
        Luca, shabbat shalom, and I hope you have a nice life saving social roadkill whilst also denying it the will and voice to save itself. Need I say any more colonial-related-theorizing things.
        It is funny though, whist you are convinced a woman with a voice AND opinions (argh, that must be your worst nightmare) should be locked in a straightjacket and held in an infirmary, I am convinced you are a Ghost of Italy’s Colonial Past, come back to haunt us all and drive sephardic women up the mountain and back down it again. Sorry, I couldn’t escape the metaphor. 🙂

      • luca

        ok ok…….listen, I know, I like provoking, and sometime It can be heavy……..mainly when I feel somebody tries talk behind my back….and I discover. Listen, seriously I’ve got nothing against you and your personal history, I respect that, we may disagree on thousands of aspects, but I’ve got nothing against you…..we excahanged some good and hard comments I know, but I hope , in our differences, we can learn to respect each other. Shabbat Shalom….for real.;_)

      • luca

        lashon Hara?…….you talk of Lashon Hara???? you’ve been doing that for nearly a week….. now I’m sure you are writing from Florence mental hospital.

      • luca

        ….you can point at whoever you want, and launch your ridicolous accusaions to the entire world…..on one point you are right: religous fanatics like you shouldn’t enter this country , no matter if they are Muslims, Jewish, Induist or whatever……we already had our fare share of fanatism with the Catholics, we don’t really need other brainwashed, talibans like people who are at war against the world.

      • animalizard

        Oh my word. My my my my. My. I actually have to screensave that one because my mother likes a good laugh when she’s on her IV.

        I just. No words. It’s like you’re every racial prejudice and concocted notion of ‘fanatic primitivism’ vs. ‘peaceful whiteness’ rolled into a big bad ball of racism. It’s like every racist colonial trope that has ever existed, with a modern twist, a disclaimer which the material fanaticism of the metropole and its own politics of exclusion.

        It’s peace on your Genevan terms, or no one’s.
        Damn Césaire was right. You don’t see your own prejudices, and we are expected to live with your blindness.

        So basically, you have Jesus complex, part II, the racist saviour version. There. I’ve diagnosed you. Congratulations for celebrating your own superiority and I hope you wake up from your surrealist whiteness one day and start breathing oxygen like normal people. Then you can float down and live amongst us and maybe even deign to daven with us and not pay for pseudo-acceptance.

        The tragedy is in part my knowledge, as it would be easier to live in ignorance of your racism, and secondly the fact that you think you are a purveyor of peace against the rising tide of racially-particularist fanaticism. Instead of it being the other way around, and your racism and classism a barrier to peace ‘on your terms’.

        I feel like I’m in that Pasolini film and you’re trying to tell me that blue is purple, that purple is peaceful, and that peaceful is accepting submission to a war someone else started.

      • luca

        wow, you are such an intellectual woman, impressive!…had you spent less time on books and more time amongs people you would have learned more important things for your own life….I respect your knwoledge but I despise your behaviour.

      • animalizard

        Why? Because I’m not ‘socially white’ enough for you, conditioned into a state of enforced social inertia, and I happen to have opinions? C’mon. FYI I treat everyone like this, honesty is a mitzvah, especially for brazen sephardic women 🙂

        Behave more jewishly and catch some eartime.

        Okay I’m off to listen to cups d’ror yikra while rocking in a foetal position licking my intellectual wounds. Not. You’re just another internetperson who treats us like inferiors who ‘dont’ belong and should go back from whence we came’, whilst also Freudianistically desperately wanting to be accepted by the community you attack, put down, stereotype, exclude and revile. Sigh, cosmopolis.

        Which means I’ve encountered many versions of all those cut-and-paste yous, have heard it all before many times over, and am off to shul. Shabbat shalom 🙂

      • luca

        I Didn’t know there was a Lybian or Egypian Shul in Florence! that’s great news! anyway……have a good time, you can judge people ther while you are at the shul according which color of Kippah they are wearing! Shabbat shalom ;_)

      • luca

        ….I already did honey, I’m glad I didn’t do it in your welcoming community!!!!!!! Shabbat Shalom.

      • animalizard

        Paying a pseudorabbi to accept you because he needs a new garden fence doesn’t make you a Jew, as we’ve already established. I’ve had enough comedy for one day.

      • luca

        ah ah ah!!!!……funny. Yeah he has a nice garden you are right!!!, a little bit of commedy in your sad and tragic life I guess it helps.

      • luca

        Now it’s clear: it was Che Guevara who converted you, I understand now,

      • animalizard

        You’re happily disgusting. Go and wallow in your racism. And please never stop being racist, because every time I need to give evidence of Italian mental colonialism, I’ll just point to you.

      • animalizard

        Also, calling Jews converts isn’t really going to enable you to better your own status, is it? Really? I’d say take a good look at your shoulders and all of the colonial chips on them, then question again why you are ‘converting’.

      • "Shmu the Jew"

        Yes I know that you don’t intend any harm, and that your not really being difficult. You’re just airing your views, and as an artist you are certainly colorful and strong in your delivery. I entertain the conversation even if I disagree, because we all know there is nothing better in a Jewish conversation than some debating. Thats how we make things colorful. This is us being “nice.” Yes, I enjoy all the subtle jokes you are so brilliantly laying on me. 🙂

        Also I would be silly and shameful to try to silence you. I think your feelings as described and your views do resonate with many people. Even if not necessarily with me.

        Though the things you have raised actually ring true to a lot of conversations I’ve had with people about what they don’t understand about of the difference in non-American attitudes in Judaism, and specifically the cultural sensibilities by which Sephardim hold. Ones that aren’t often appreciated because the cultural and ethnic roles are so different in this country.

        Now notice how this conversation started, I think what you are saying is something true that minorities often bring up in this country. We call it “cultural appropriation.” We remove the act from the issue of race necessarily, and talk about the taking of someone’s culture. This can happen with any group of people when something is adopted from them and misused in a way that is not deemed appropriate by community being copy-catted. I agree with the idea of cultural appropriation on the part of some people, but as you see my life experience tells me it doesn’t just happen in Caucasians wanting an escape. We lower the conversation when we make it get turned around to be racial.

        One of the reasons I cannot even begin to entertain that type of mentality is because I don’t come from some pristine lineage and with some background of chachamim behind me to look down on others. You are right. I don’t think many of us hide our mixed up backgrounds anymore, if anything for some like me we have a sense of pride that our self-identity almost went extinct and it was revived in the freedom of this county. I’m not so privileged to look down on others, and I most certainly won’t look down on converts just because they have no roots.

        However, at the same time im not blind so that I fail to recognize that I benefit from the privilege of having actual Jewish ancestry and some connection to the Jewish community since I was very young, and people therefore have always seen their encouraging me to be more observant as an act of redemption of some sort. Thats not bad. But how can some of us not feel like our communities have close to a one-drop rule (bad analogy, but I don’t know how else to describe such a severe view on ethnicity).

        Here in America, as you know, we have many anusim – conversos. I have quite a few friends that come from view interesting families, who have fascinating and moving stories. The history of their family hardships have really made them associate with being Jewish strongly, many openly embrace their Jewish roots and religion now. Becoming members of the larger Jewish community again. And it not without hardship.

        But sometimes in their frustration often times I hear them make equally brash statements that they don’t truly understand the implication of. Such as jumping to the conclusion that Ashkenazim are categorically racist and narrow, and more prone to be unwilling to accept converts. Then I kind of gasp and ask them to remember our communities back in the old country that don’t accept outside converts at all. Then they give me blank faces as they soberly consider it.

        Even for anusim who come from a mixed baggage of roots, there is this tendency to over compensate and in the face of feelings snubbed or less than, and to want to join the general anti-Ashkenazi band-wagon, ranting about how they are supposedly Kuzari converts anyhow. Its a bit disorienting or doesn’t sit well with me (especially given the context that epic myth is taken from).

        I’m not saying that we should have people disrupt communities and their ways, to make them assimilate. Reform and Americanize the distinct communities so they lose themselves. And I think you can certainly see from my general halachic positions, when im not talking about chassidut, is certainly in line with the Sepharidic tradition and am trying to help people revive respect for that aspect of Jewish culture. I think we need to have more representation for the customs of the communities that are not so easily understood, and for the minhagim few appreciate.

        Generally I do like to hold what I believe to be a mature position, that many sephardi people do, that I come from a history that lived without denominations. We have never built any sects and can live without them. That I don’t recognize factions, I’m just a Jew.

        But even I have to make sure I dont use that cheaply. Too often I hear people use that I a tone that their Jewish expression is real Judaism, and everyone else’s just isn’t. Too often people use that phrase to easily say, “I refuse to recognize you exist, you or you’re synagogue.”

        I know, you are right, not all communities accept converts. Thats a fact, and you stated the sentiments that reinforce that idea for people. But I have to remind you that using the tone of “never have and never will” does not come with so much veracity anymore in most communities and won’t as time goes on.

        People from traditional Sephardi backgrounds might still even still get in trouble for marrying a Jewish convert today, here in LA we have congregations that will certainly not welcome one back if they do. Seems odd to people here, but you know its not odd in other places. That it’s just not accepted or recognized, because “we never have and never will.”

        But strangely these same communities were not open minded about marrying Ashkenazim not long ago either (like in our lifetime). And even today people still get beat over the head with stories about how in the old country people didn’t even marry between the dispersed towns unless is was some sort of dynastic marriage, always mentioned as a sign of how far people have strayed now. But we aren’t that closed and far flung anymore, as we open to the world our acceptance of other Jews aside from ourselves becomes practical and essential for us to maintain our survival and relevance.

        Notice how Luca talked about dogma back there for a moment. That conversation has some merit. That’s a hot topic, and its not just all heat and no substance. I think there is something that needs to be said about that. Certainly for the average North American we do see the “old world” point of view to be more interested in dogma than true religious practice. That may sound infuriating, but you should entertain the point for a second.

        Again, I ask us to again consider the shared culture and values between us. We agree that Sephardic culture relies on the heavy trope of being above denominations. All of them are abominations and deviant. We pride ourselves on the old ways. Likewise, in Israel a lot of people are of the same mindset, “If I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna do it right or I’m not going to do it at all.” In my experience it seems as time is going on, more and more people are just not doing.

        Someone once pointed out an observation about the gap in mentality. I once heard a guy talking about some lecturers as Hebrew University. One of the professors once explained the difference in mentality between east and west this way. “What you need to understand is America is Protestant, and Israel is Catholic.” Sounds ridiculous at first, I know.

        The professor went on to explain that America and England are very much protestant countries, and Protestants are about reformation and changing the rules. Whereas the greater part of the religious world has the temperament of Catholics, who have tons of rules and don’t believe in changing them; so they just choose which to ignore and which not to follow.
        I can most certainly respect people who stand up for the ancient communities and preserve their ways. I consider that one of my goals in this life. Some of us do have the desire to give back, we are not just showing up wanting to be catered to.

        In fact you will not likely see many outside people challenging you, wanting to pervert your culture and steal your voice. Just notice the biggest challenges today are coming from within. People are not really afraid that punkers, gays, progressives, egalatarians and trans-gender people are gonna come in and occupy their synagogues. What people are actually more afraid of is that we have “different” people already in our midst. We know them, we are related to them. Its just for the first time they are actually raising their voices and reaching out, shattering the myth of how ideal and immune we are.

        But… that’s just my opinion. Based on my experience and observations, this is how my generalizations look in my head. 😉

        And no I’m not really babying, Luca. I do feel bad for him, yes. But I’m just saying don’t beat up the man for something he did with what seems to be real sincerity. Hes hurting already.

        And he is right, I do not agree his choice for conversion rabbis and programs. We also disagree on how the situation should be resolved, because my life experience tells me this isn’t going to be as neat as he would like. It might take more than just a new letter being written to fix this, thats just a reality he needs to be prepared for. All we can do is hope for the best.

        What it would help, you Luca, to keep in mind is that our lady friend here is quite right. One should to the best of their abilities try to deal with local rabbis in the future, or follow their leads they give. One of the things that is very much frowned upon in Jewish culture across the board, is the idea of shopping around for a rabbi. Going elsewhere in search of a ruling that you were denied in your own hometown or province.

        When finding conversion rabbis that is different, as one does need to search. But understand that may be some peoples frustration with you going oversees, aside from you going into the depths of yeridah to embrace our liberal ways. 😉

        My final word, all I can say is that Luca is now holding on to papers that local rabbis say might be good in ritual, but that no institution will validate. I don’t think its the RA’s fault, its the fault of the jerks who did this. It’s insulting for Ginsburg and company to offer conversions that do not have the weigh of the movement they claim to represent, but its even more insulting they fail to throw their own weight behind the valid of the conversions they performed as their people are getting rejected.

        Thanks for your patience. This last few weeks are been really trying with a lot of health related stuff. Hopefully tomorrow I get to hear some good news from the doctor and so I can get back to business as usual. 🙂 Wish me luck, guys. Be well!

      • animalizard

        Shmu, Sammi, I do love how you write. Please be aware I’m also writing from hospital on my tablet, which gives me even more frosty chutzpah than usual as I feel like Oscar Wilde imprisoned for something I cannot help- illness. Please get well and don’t forget to daven, I swear, it’s like therapy beyond material value that increases seratonin and therefore your immune system.

        You know, much of what you said makes sense, in the American context. Being a Brooklyn frequenter I get it, and I get that most people understand my community and position from the outside, and because they can’t be a part of it, condemn it. That’s the initial reaction from pretty much everyone, including the formally converted anusim who are more likely to be accepted by the chabad if they are intermarried. But I identity with their struggles, have experiened very physical racism in Europe, and hope we can one day embrace our anusim as brothers who yes, took the historically easy way out, but can be forgiven by their sisters despite the edge of bitterness their, and the idea that they are willfully opting into a community under attack in Europe/NA.
        Well…as for Italy, I moved here from Torino, where the secular, intermarried and assimilated Italians had rousted their Orthodox rabbi from the community because he refused to perform conversion on children who did not have Jewish mothers. I’m talking about the worst episode of infighting I have ever seen, on all four continents I’ve lived in, which involved a hoard of Italian men forcibly removing an elderly frum rabbi from his shul, physically assaulting him and verbally abusing him, with the backing of a group of Italians who claimed to be converts be who had been converted overseas. This happened a few years back, and pretty much left me scarred when it came to that group of converts. So here, reform does not mean ‘open-mindedness’. It means codified secularism of the Euro-fascist variety, bagfulls of prejudice to the existing community, and the threat of physical violence by Italian patriarchs if the rabbi refuses to convert their non-jewish children who wouldn’t know a matriarch if they were beaten round the head with a sidura. And yes, I do have particular fear of this kind of patriarchal crackpottery entering my community and completely demolishing the little agency I already have as a Jewish woman. ‘Reform’ here does not entail the embracing of female rabbis or more female involvement, it codifies the complete annihilation of Judeo-Italian womanhood and assimilation into the existing ‘whore/mother’ dichotomy which marks non-Jewish Italian religious cultures of gender. Giorgianna Levi wrote marvellous things on that, and Jewish women here will continue to pry apart groups of ‘male converts’ who rabble together like an unconscious empire, unwilling to let go of their gendered racism but desperate to attain the privileges of ethnic multiculturalism.
        So… we’re not talking ‘Orthodox inacceptance’ or xenophobia in the Italian case, we’re talking coercion and forced (to the point of fascism, not the usual trend in reform communities I admit) explusion of frum Jews and their rabbis who are seen as a barrier to this ‘new secular Italian intermarried modern Judéité’ of Torino & central Milan. I have witness the ‘vice versa’ in NY, and I couldn’t believe I was seeing this version of events in Italy, which is rotating closer and closer the fascist laicité of France and Switzerland. Bear in mind how close these countries are to N. Italy.

        So here we have a group of converts who, either don’t understand how forcibly attacked and abused the frum community here have been in the past twenty years, or are taking advantage of it to push for their own acceptance, which is even more insidious. I have tried to reason with many of them, esp in Torino, but of course, naturally was told that they as a group had no interest in halachically embracing Judaism as merely wanted to ‘be a secular Jew’ due to their desire for the cultural identity and its merits in post-fascist Italy. Their support for the removal of the frum community was based on their own desire to insert themselves into the narrative of modern Italian jewishness at the expense of the existing community. I’m talking serious white settler analogies here, and surely I don’t even have to mention the public expounding calls for ‘removal of indigenous’ community to make way for the newbies. That ‘backwards/forwards’, sacrifice the authentics to make way for the new-and-edgies, colonial discourse is so regurgitative, still present after these events, and is part of the reason why converts turn heads with this ‘arrive and change the doorknobs on our way in’ mentality.

        Semantically when I hear converts speak like that, I am reminded of those events across the North, which one who wasn’t involved in, or even had knowledge of local Judaism, ten years ago, couldn’t contextualise. Perhaps if converts knew, there would be less bombastic colonial overtures to their self-announcement, and more humanity. Or perhaps there wouldn’t be, and they would continue as that group did ten years ago- Italians who wanted to become what they assumed to be ‘a postwar cosmopolitan idea of Jewishness’, a museum-produced product of manufactured victimhood and perpetual ‘goodness’, Italians who were so convinved they were the face of occupied victimhood that they were willing to physically remove and replace the existing indigenous community, all for the perpetuation of their warped idea of the sefarada as ‘she who makes no mistakes’. And this is why conversion is ahistorical, because it does not allow for humanity and encourages redemptive tendencies.

        Clearly, life for frum jews in a post-fascist states, between the throes of philosemitic fervour of wannabe converts, secular neofascism which marks the assimilées (social laicité is a cultural transfer from France), and the racialist neofascism on the streets of Roma right now which makes me hide behind my tichel, and which makes Italians who think they have been ‘converted’ wear the magen david as a politically reactionary symbol. We’ve all seen it. Because they have nothing else to counter fascism with, and never did, neofascism merely being an exaggeration of already-present cultures of empire, and so they must appropriate someone else’s culture to counter it with. Thereby reducing our identity, history, traditions and beliefs to a ‘symbol of resistance’ against something problematic and present in their own cultural context.
        That’s the worst part. Between an idea of ‘innocent victimhood’ which lacks credibility, and and a ‘politics of resistance’, which has become the latest in a long line of post-marxist conversion trends. Seriously, find your cultural/political resistance elsewhere. Baguettes are better than challah for beating people with. We are not your reductionist symbol of ‘resistance’, ‘difference’, or ‘victimhood’ and our image is not for sale. Not to the ‘antifascisti militante, nor to Cantalamessa and his cronies who have compared the investigations into Vatican corruption to antisemitism. Classic crackpottery from an institution who thinks attacks on its walls of privilege can be compared to genocidal ideology.

        Our story is not for sale.

        The way Luca exclaimed ‘you have no jewishness’ is a product of this former mentality, the desire to appropriate our image to serve a political context, and roll all which is good, utopian, and pure into one identity, completely divorced from the lived experience of jewishness. We make mistakes, and own them. It’s how we’ve survived. Not as victims, but of having a sense of our humanity beyond the the post-imperial philosemitic apologism which seeks to impose an air of ‘historical infallibility’ onto our identity, and furthermore conflate it with Israeli politics. It serves its purpose. The first who come, with this mentality, will be are the first to leave. Shmu, I may be wrong, but I’ve seen a lot of converts, and they always move on after after disillusion kills the idea of us as either inhuman transhistorical victims, as ‘goodness embodied’, or because they just need another ethnic thrill. I’ve yet to meet one who has her/his head screwed on, and has a balanced sense of who we are, and why it might be nice to sit alongside us for the journey, maybe in silence maybe not, but just to learn.

        I have no idea where Luca fits into this pre-existing narrative in North Italy, whether he is old enough to be aware of it, and whether he knows the Torino-sourced context behind frum fear of converts, esp. that group which physically forced the existing community into silence or alienation almost ten years ago in N. Italy. Don’t even get me started on Venice. If he is aware, he should not be proud to embrace the ‘reform’ label in Italy, which entails ‘coerced replacement’ rather than the initiation of new shuls or even separatist communities. If he is not aware, he should make himself aware, or forever ruminate on why-the-zachal he is being rejected, when he uses the ‘reform’ discourse in this context. It’s loaded with recent historical overtones, and a dose of pain for anyone who witnessed that series of events for themselves.

        So…a rabbi who was violently forced into submission by the majority assimilated community who tried to coerce him to convert their children (think of the post-fascism post-imperial Europolitics of that), and the frum community who followed him. It wouldn’t happen in LA. No way!

        And Shmu, I think lady friend is one of the nicer way of addressing a female debating partner who clearly has more opinions and experience than ways of expressing them! It’s certainly preferable to ‘bake your challah woman’, and as I’ve told my Italian colleagues here, they could learn a lot from the way in which sephardic women demand respect, and the subsequent way in which their partners treat them. For that mark of respect you get a gold star (muahah) and my best wishes for Purim. Let’s both of us get besedr snappy because our mothers don’t like it (pretty much the only reason I’m praying for recovery is that I have to deal with the judeo-mammismo right now).

      • luca

        no, not again……this time I am not gonna fall into your trap…”Fascism”, “Pseudo Mammismo”, Imperialism”, “Colonialism” ….oh dear!!!!
        Wasn’t this a thread about long distance conversion programs? If you want we can throw in also a bit of Etruschi and a nice discussion about why Juventus Football club Always always win the soccer championship……in your post you mentioned “fascism” at least 20 times., even if you do have a talent in writing ( even if you go off topic a bit too much) have you ever heard of a piece of advice any artist who writes tends to follow?:AVOID REPETITIONS????….unbelivable! …….As for the Rabbis of Turin and that of Trieste I think they did well to sack them….they no longer represented their communities, what’s wrong with that?….I don’t think they were phisically assaulted…..that’s an exgareration. They were simply sacked …….full stop.Anyway, Ok you win, I AM NOT JEWISH (ecspecially one of those of YOUR tribe,) and I’m a Fascist, Mammone, Imperialist Italian pig……., yes you are right!!!!! , but please let’s cut this crap here….it’s boring!!!!!. Get well soon you too. Luca

      • luca

        …P.S. I won’t be able to read any other of your answers because I’m gonna erase all the incoming mail and I DO NOT INTEND READING other statment coming from someone who is obsesses with 3 conceptsin her life: IMPERIALISM, FASCISM; COLONIALISM……and “BEING A SEPHARDIC WOMAN”….what and who would you be if took away the label of “SEPHARDIC WOMAN” from your being???……you would be nothing. That’s why so cling yourself so much to this ANNOYING AND BORING cliche…Tanti auguri di pronta guarigione.

      • animalizard

        PS Papa Jew, we were reading this Tablet piece after Parsha today, on the concept of the female Tziporah and it struck me how different the behaviour of female ‘new additions’ to the community is to that of men, and how men who decide to convert essentially scapegoat Jewish women for any or all rejection they imagine or experience. The conversation was particularly interesting regarding our issues in Italy, the domestic abuse issue in the context of intermarriage, and the fear that marrying a non-Jewish male is essentially like giving up the social security provided by the community, in relation to abuse and the ‘get’ as opposed to the difficulties of obtaining divorce under secular Italian law. Not only that, the horror stories two women recounted this morning spoke volumes about how migrant women in Italy feel like their community is their only system of social security, due to huge failures to protect and empower women in secular law, and that is something that cannot be underestimated when it comes to domestic or gendered abuse. So when we feel that ‘reform’ or non/jewish communities come together to present themselves as the ‘modern’ alternative which will emancipate us from the throes of backwardness, we have a private giggle and re-enforce the adherence to traditions which empower us in our communities, whilst publicly declaring the limitations of the modernizing secularists to provide us with anything but voicelessness, a dose of ethnic Othering, and the demolition of pre-existing hal/laws of equality and agency.
        Two success PS Papa Jew, we were reading this Tablet piece after Parsh today, on the concept of the female Tziporah and it struck me how different the behaviour of female ‘new additions’ to the community is to that of men, and how men who decide to convert essentially scapegoat Jewish women for any or all rejection they imagine or experience. The conversation was particularly interesting regarding our issues in Italy, the domestic abuse issue in the context of intermarriage, and the fear that marrying a non-Jewish male is essentially like giving up the social security provided by the community, in relation to abuse and the ‘get’ as opposed to the difficulties of obtaining divorce under secular Italian law. Not only that, the horror stories two women recounted this morning spoke volumes about how migrant women in Italy feel like their community is their only system of social security, due to huge failures to protect and empower women in secular law, and that is something that cannot be underestimated when it comes to domestic or gendered abuse. So when we feel that ‘reform’ or non/jewish communities come together to present themselves as the ‘modern’ alternative which will emancipate us from the throes of backwardness, we have a private giggle and re-enforce the adherence to traditions which empower us in our communities, whilst publicly declaring the limitations of the modernizing secularists to provide us with anything but voicelessness, a dose of ethnic Othering, and the demolition of pre-existing hal/laws of equality and agency.
        Two success stories in my local community, considered tziporot, are women who wouldn’t go back to that secular voicelessness for all the Germaine Greers in NY, and they too have remarked on the approach of male converts to topics such as this, and the rarity of male converts who actually wish to live Jewishly, rather than merely being a proponent of a reactionary ethnic identity codified as political pride. One particularly stated that while she decided to convert for the benefits to women in marriage- note that only male converts find Jewish law emasculating which perhaps speaks volumes about their own locally-structured ability to reign supreme and define female roles- she gradually accessed her Jewishness through the idea of giving to a community rather than taking from it, or redefining it because of its initial appearance of a-modern inadequacy. These are two women that I would mourn very deeply should they decide to leave our community, as they have stood beside us as women, rather than stood over us to crush us, make us feel inferior, or merely use our presence for their own ethnic thrills. They have made the journey from shiksa to imah by finding their own voice within this tolerance, but more specifically, a voice which does not gain its empowerment by relying upon its own ability to drown out pre-existing voices, particularly those of women.

  • luca

    I would be glad to have a conversation. The problem is that I get a little bit pissed off when someone claims to hold the torch of Truth, calling other people “dishonest”, “laughable”, “fake” and so on and on. See? THA’S THE REAL reason I didn’t choose Orthodoxy, too many people (not all) have this kind of approach toward those who are “outside of their club”. I’m glad I’m not one of them!!!, I respect them (which is something some of them find it hard to do in discussing with those who hold different opinions) I could be offensive and use rude words as well (Shmuel knows that right???)…..English is not my Language, so I’m making an effort here to make myself understood but I can understand it pretty well. I know the meaning of the words: FAKE, DISHONEST, LAUGHABLE…I could use different expressions but I won’t do that today. ok? Expecially toward an American who is a welcomed guest in my country…….Just a little piece of advice: stay in this country a little bit longer, study its history, learn its Language, its customs and habits, hang out with Italians from every region… that point you will be in the position to talk about Italy and how things work down here…..untill then you are just a welcomed tourist.

  • luca

    ……and using repetetly the expression “I know”……well, you are soooooo lucky to “know” so well so many aspects of life…Judaism, Phislosopy, Italian history and customs, Muslim countries,, Catholicism, Antisemitism, my own personal life, psichology, Halacha, and G-d only know how many other things!!!….well you’re such a lucky man because . “YOU KNOW”……..well,let me say this: I prefer to “HAVE DOUBTS” and ask myself questions in my life it helps me to grow and not to take things for granted…..but I understand lots of people ( I thought it was a peculiarity of Catholicism) need to live with their dogmas and certainty, because….of course…”THEY KNOW”.

    • "Shmu the Jew"

      oy. the dogma thing. you hit on a great point. i gotta run out… so i cant take the moment just now. week is flying by. but id like to address this and the Sephardi “attitude,” i dont know how to say it any other way. i may embrace the chassidic philosophy but it is absolutely true that i am yet compelled to keep the actual sephardi ways im accustomed to. in a way he’s appealing to my own cultural and halachic mindset to say a few things that i should address.

  • luca

    Lesson N.1 about Italian Jewy: Stop calling or divididing them between Sephardim or Askhenazim, you are on the wrong path. Italian Jews are….Italian Jews full stop. If you wanna call the with their real name you should call them Bene Romi (Sons of Rome), They descend from the slaves who were brought to Italy by the Romans at the time of the Roman Empires (lots and lots of years ago….longer then you can imagine), so there’s no Sephardic traditions or Askenazi traditions among Italian Jews ( expecially for those living in Rome). Then after the Spanish Inquisition lots of Spanish Jews fled Spain moving to Italy that’s way some community around the counntry are closer to the Sephardic tradition……as for the Askenazi: they don’t really exist here apart for a small Group in Trieste ( far North) or maybe in some Chabad houses. So when somebody says that in Rome ther are 10 Rabbis either Sephardi or Askenazi, well……….he DOESN’T EVEN KNOW what he’s talking about!!!!!!!……they are just Italian Jews Rabbi (or Bene Romi)……see? you know a lot of things about Italy, now you should thank me for teaching you another little things!…….

  • luca

    “collective guilt”………I can’t believe it, really I can’t. A sociologist also….what a man.

  • luca

    Do not worry Shmu……I don’t know if I have the balls or not, but I’m not used to keep my mouth shut when somebody tries to bully me (and other people who maybe can’t understand or write in English) from behind a laptop….accusing me to be a liar and dishonest individaul, accusing me of feeling ashamed and embarassed……my name is Luca, somebody else seems to to ashamed to use their real name, I fully respect their privacy….but please they can not talk about me “feeling ashamed” and “hiding” when they hide behind a nickname…..I’m not a kid anymore, I take responsabilities for what I say, I use my real name and I walk with my chin up. Beside that, I always willing to have a constructive conversation even with people who disagree with my point of view, I don’t even wanna change their point of view, G-o forbids, I’m willing to do that but it takes respect and a concept that as Jews somebody must have forgotten “tzinut” ……it’s not just a way of dressing. My motto is “question Authorities”…….so that’s what I’ve been trying to do here. For most of the people here I’m a” nobody”, a goy, a non genetic Jew, I don’t bloody care…..I am what I am but that will never stop me from saying what I think! I would love to do it in a serene and friendly manner….but let’s say that I don’t turn the other cheek.

    • "Shmu the Jew"

      At the end of the day i have to look at things through the ideas of Torah and not ideology. and in the Torah 48 times we have it mention that we are not to oppress the stranger in our midst, 36 times in relation to the CONVERT alone. thats how i can say that when one resents converts, we cannot say that attitude is Torah true. think about it, many rabbis point out that we have only one mention to mixing milk and meat but we go out of way to observe and study every details to obsession on this. there are volumes written. but when it comes to the ger toshav, we act like we dont know what the text means. are we gonna bring in every specialist including an Anthropologist as well to look at the texts, like this is a total mystery? no. we know what it means.

  • luca

    Sorry about that “Animalizard”, if you drop your judgments based on your personal assumptions, arrogance and insults we can have a nice chat, on the contrary, I’m sorry, you picked on the the wrong guy, you can call the “Police” or ask for me to be banned from this discussion, but if you reread the full thread you’ll see for yourself who started mocking about other people (weren’t you laughing????)……. , enjoy Florence anyway!!!!!!

  • luca

    ….you can point at whoever you want, and launch your silly accustaions to the entire world…..on one point you are right: religous fanatics like you shouldn’t enter this country , no matter if they are Muslims, Jewish, Induist or whatever……we already had our fare share of fanatism with the Catholics, we don’t really need other brainwashed, talibans like people who are at war against the world.

  • luca

    no way! your culture is NOT my culture, and I’m happy about that……..I don’t wanna enter your Taliban Jewish world…..what are you talking about?

  • luca

    so What the about the Germans?… you wanna shot them all in the head because of what they did 70 years ago?

  • luca

    Hi Shmue….I hope you are better today. I just read your comment, well……I’ve got nothing to say about Sephardim or Askenazim, I don’t know anything about them….I know they have different traditions…but do they have different Torah or Talmud?… for the Talmud or Shulcan Aruch, I might not be an a expert, but when it comes to Conversions….it doesn’t says that Conversion has to “make your life hell” ( read Maimonide and Hillel and many many other for example…..they don’t even rquire the presence of a Rabbi or Teacher) I know later rabbis changed all that…..I don’t care, that’s it!!!! ……I go by what Maimoinide and other Sages taught us…..if the for some other reason someone decided to change the rules later ( much later)….well, that could happen in the future as well. As for going abroad for Conversion, let me be clear: Italian population 60.000.0000, Italian Jews 28.000 ( how many lives in LA????)….so 28.000 Jews throught the country: 15.000 of them living in Rome, 7.000 in Milan, the rest are scattered in tiny communities around the country…..Italy is not USA!!!! Having access to a rabbi unless you live in Milan or Rome is virtually IMPOSSIBLE!!!!! beside that, things in Italy work in a different way…’s not so much about being observat , study, or “feeling the need of becoming a Jew”, all you need in order to become a Jew in Italy is: Living in Rome or Milan, having a lot of money or an important social status (or an important family name). Is this the Judaisn someone wants to pass off as “real”????…….Now, Rabbi Ginsburg, you may like him or not, but you’ve got to live with the fact that he’s been a Rabbi for 30 years (is he no longer a member of RA? but this is politic ot Judaism) not ot mention the other 3 Rabbis who converted me…….beside that, despite my attempts, RA doesn’t even answer my enquiries about my Conversion….so who’s the clown here? RA? rabbi Ginsburg and his collegues? the Conservative Community where I converted?….you tell me!

    • "Shmu the Jew"

      No, quite to the contrary. I don’t have to live with it. You do. And of course I’m agreeing to help you make sense of it and make the contacts you need. Of course its going to take time, I didn’t expect anyone to sort you out over night. Am I concerned that you have waited so long? Absolutely. And i think your a great person, but that doesn’t make it our mandate.

      So he was a rabbi and knows a few things. Ginsburg could have been a rabbi for 100 years, the fact is that when he resigned and was not allowed back he lost his ability to represent the movement and demand that they honor his rulings. Especially after the seriousness of the issues that lead to his disgraced resignation, concert a convert. Its not just unrealistic, its morally questionable for anyone to expect that of them given the history.

      When one leaves their job and office, especially by a forced resignation, they dont get to walk away with all the honors and maintain the weight of their authority. You understand that in the secular world, let alone in the religious world.

      As explained there is a religious reason, even if you dont know it. The Shulchan Aruch as the code of jewish law, it is clear in making the case about one being under the authority of his own rabbis, and their rulings only passing down to you when you are in their care. One you cannot disagree with them and still maintain their rulings, reinforced through kafuf lasomeich – being subject to the authority of your ordaining rabbi. Clearly in his schism he doesn’t recognizing their rulings over him, are you really going to expect them to uphold rulings his?

      Sure you have other people sign off on the documents, but your asking them still to honor documents not authorized by then, on letterheads that are years out of date when they were used anyhow. And where are those three people, to defend you today?

      I agree the RA is not giving you “good customer service.” But please be understand, you didn’t buy this product for them anyhow. The people that should be fighting your case are the ones failing to service your needs. Nearly demanding the RA to just exchange it for you in anger, that is not really the right attitude to have with them.

      You have frustrations, you feel cheated. Trust me, I get it. But don’t be angry with the people that you want to fix it. I dont think they want to just push you or anyone else aside.

  • luca

    P.S.: I meant how many Jews live in L.A

  • luca

    and I would like to point out (once again) that if I really wanted I could convert Orthodox and put an end to this story……problem is: I DO NOT WANT TO CONVERT ORTHODOX. (I do not like their general and despisable attitude of looking at people from above) So, here’s the point…..Some Jewish community ( a small number) do nbot accept converts whatsoever ( I don’t wanna have any sort of contact with them….their are like an ecslusive taliban club and go against the Torah and I DO NOT RESPECT THEM JEWISH OR NOT JEWISH . fanatics are fanatics)….some more “open minded communities” do accept converts provided they convert Orthodox (which is something I do not wanna do but I respect their point of view because treat other people in a respectful manner)….and then there’s the majority of Jewish communities which require commitment, study, respct…..but that at the same time give you respect and help you growing in THIS REAL WORLD and not in PORTUGAL or SPAIN in1492 or POLAND in 1790……I go for this Communities….sorry some of you doi not like this , but as I said long time ago, that’s your problem, not mine. Live and let live!!!!!

    • "Shmu the Jew"

      You know, like i said. People can say what they want about Reform, but they do have some presence in Italy. And im told they are a bit more traditional than Reform congregations are here. You would like the egalitarian approach much more. its not to be sniffed at. Having conversion issues, thats a concern yes. But dont get hurt or let people start berating you with suggestions of “upgrading” to the orthodox gold ticket, just for recognition. id hope people never feel pressured that way.

  • luca

    I am not urging anyone to sort this thing out!!!! I didn’t even ask for that…..!!! the subject of this thread was about long distance conversion that’s why I chipped in…..I can take suggestions and advice, but I’m not forcing anuone to sort my things out….that’s for sure!
    When I say that’s your problem:…….I mean that I can sleep at night with this situation, I mean that Orthodox would be glad to convert me in a “shot conversion” because they do not reach a Minyan….in thnat respect “that’s a probllem” for those who want to keep their doors shut!

    • "Shmu the Jew"

      At least your not in a rush to like get married next week or something. True.

      If you can live with it for now, i can too. Now the time zone difference, that i the part that is killin’ me. you make the best conversations, just running at completely opposite schedules so i get disoriented. 😛

  • Her Grumpiness

    Dear Shmu the Jerk,
    Patrick didn’t respond to your email because he experienced a grave emergency which you will never thankfully have to deal with in your life. Instead of passive aggressively writing a blog about issues that you have no idea about, you should do your homework. He holds a live Q&A session once a month on PunkTorah where you can go and ask these questions if you’re not happy with the answers provided. Unless you’re a chicken…which you sure seem like. Way to kick a man when he’s down. Aren’t you so proud of yourself?

    • "Shmu the Jew"

      Let me begin by saying that I have no interest in seeking out Patrick or stalking him in his chats. He has always had my phone number, email, etc. He has already stated after a series of emails that the facts were correct, but that he does not wish to engage this conversation any further. I have respected that. Furthermore, I have been more active in helping the people that have been harmed and disallusions by the programs which until a few short weeks ago Parick was recommending his congregants to convert through.

      Recommndations on the PunkTorah website six months after an explit rabbinical statement against that court, for which Patrick in response only saw fit to play the name game and keeping up with business like before.

      It is important that I make it clear, I understand that Parick is ill. And I do feel for him, and I have myself said Tehillim for him and asked others to in other that he hopefully recover from or find the courage to master his illness. I feel for him, because unfortunately I can completely sympathize with him. However, I do not care to use pity to tip the balance in this conversation, as this is is most cruel and unfair. Unfortunately my own battle with disabling illnesses which leave me physically and often verbally impared makes me feel very deeply for his pain. But I will not compare my terminal and violent illness, up against his. Even if his is not severe, he deserves every bit of support and sympathy because loosing the wholeness of one’s self is devastating. In what ever measure.

      He may be challenged. But he has indeed moved forward, and is not in the handycap right now. As you say he is actively working. He has even decided to go forward with offering conversions, again. This time advertising conversion under the auspices of a retired Reform rabbi with an online presence, and using Patrick’s program as the Introduction to Judaism component and to administer the conversion process. Still claiming conservative standards, and hinting at some sort of tactic approval because he intends to rent a Conservative mikveh and meeting room in his area.

      It’s odd that he would move forward with this considering that nothing good has become of it for people who have already converted online. Its odd that he would do such a flimbsy thing, considering the converts who converted through Ginsburg were also done in the Conservative mikveh and with all the correct ritual standards of the movement. And yet tey are still being rejected by the Conservative movement.

      Interestingly, Ginsburg hasn’t stopped with conversions any more than Patrick. Ginsburg is has actually moving more intensively into advertising a “Reform beit din” as well now. He is clearly doing conversions outside of the conservative standards. How is he giving people a sense of validity for this? He told his candidates that he would be having his reform rabbi and cantor friends submit their conversion documents to the American Jewish Archives located in Cincinnati, Ohio, at Hebrew Union College – leading people to believe that this offers them sort of validation by having their documents archived there. He is actively advertising himself towards the reform, and even claiming to be able to offer a skype reform beit din. Again, him selling conversion for a movement he doesn’t actually belong to.

      Its ridiculous for anyone to move forward with such online conversion schemes, especially at this juncture. Considering they are obviously arent helping anyone. Considering their people are showing up and their synagogues with these certificates and the are being told they will not be validated already. Its not theoretical that they will be rejected, its actually happening already. With devastating emotional consequences for people.

      The reasons why not to go forward with it should be obvious if we consider the aftermath of Patrick’s mentor’s conversions – those done by Ginsburg.

      Do my homework, you say? I have the documentation. Which instead of dealing with this myself, I’m having all the information passed on to the rabbis in the various movements to help the candidates as they sort this out with their rabbis.

      Personally, as a person that used to defend Patrick, its sad to see Patrick go down a path that has already hurt many people. Think about this, this is a guy that is so dishonest that he sold Ginsburgs conversion program to his own group leaders, for which the most prominent of them emails me distraught that he had to stop payment on his own conversions around the New Years. And the people who contributed their work to PunkTorah and Darshan, who now don’t really feel good about their contributions possibly being used in this way.

      You might want to say that maybe he wasn’t really dishonest. He just didn’t know, he was mistaken. It’s like this, he was recommending Ginsburg for years, and still did so even six months after a rabbinic statement saying that wasn’t appropriate or acceptable. If he is really that clueless and uninformed, then he doesn’t have any business offering conversion.

      So far Patrick’s brandname recommendations have been devestating. He actually had the bad fortune of tangling himself up with and recommending the first ever progressive rabbi to have to be called out by name, in the opening line of a denomination’s conversion FAQ.

      Truth is I have much more important work to do in the physical Jewish world and not just in the ether, to be bothered with him and his issues. The people hurt, them I will exhaust myself for. But I do not have the time or will to be distract from my own teaching for his little play-shul. No, I am not at all intimidated by him, truth is hes not very knowledgeable. Challenging him in such a way would do nothing more than shame him. Why would I show up in his site and call him out like a bully? I’m one to protest, but not to bully. That is also the reason I also turned down his attempts to try to subdue my criticism of his program by offering to share the stage with me at PunkTorah. That was his first interest, the exposure we could have achieved together. Which leads me to believe, maybe all of this is just about getting attention and exposure for himself.

    • "Shmu the Jew"

      In the weeks following this story I was contacted by many people regarding their own conversion experiences with Ginsburg and the Chicago Beit Din, in each case their conversions were rejected by their local communities after the fact. To date Ginsburg, nor even Levine or Brief, have ever showed their faces to defend their conversions.

      In fact, instead of defending the conversions, one of his converts says he purportedly received a full refund after calling Ginsburg, distraught enough that he says he threating with a lawsuit. Not my first choice, but there ya go.

      Regarding the other converts. Most are still reporting back that are being told their conversions might be good ritually, but that local rabbis and cantors do not know how to help the person further, as they cannot validate these documents.

      All converts have since been directed to their local institutions to help remedy their conversion issues. In most cases people are being told they need to start over from the being with their conversion program, beginning with an Introduction to Judaism and finding a sponsoring rabbi.

      I am told special considerations are being taken for people who converted before the issuing of the RA’s statement and ban on his activities, however people after that ban may not be accepted or validated.

      The reason this is such a serious issue is because Ginsburg didn’t just do slight slip up, and do something unsanctioned. He misrepresented himself. Only after he had to resign from the Rabbinical Assembly did Ginsburg begin to start superimposing old RA letterheads and symbols on his conversion papers, to make them look official.

      To date, I only know of one conversion which purportedly has been accepted from the Chicago Conversion Beit Din after being initially rejected. In that case the convert stressed the point that his conversion began when Ginsburg was still employed at Congregation Ezra haBonim, with an Introduction to Judaism program initiated through that institution. At a stage between the Ginsburg’s pulpit life and his spawning of a pure online conversion program. This case was remedied by contacting the local Rabbinical Assembly office in his region.

      Saddly, in nearly all these cases the person paid quite a bit more than advertised on line, they also payed several hundreds of dollars to these rabbis on the beit din – described by Ginsburgs own converts as elderly and kind, but mere rubber stamps for Ginsburg. None of them have responded to assist their converts to date.

  • Rabbi shapiro

    Shmu the Jew Hardcore Mesorah Shmuel Gonzales shame shame

    The lies slander and defamation of Shmuel Gonzales (a.k.a. “Shmu the Jew”. This is Shmuel Gonzales (a.k.a. “Shmu the Jew”
    ) LIES about our fantastic conversion program.

    We are very sorry he has Aids, and wish him good health, as he writes about on his blog, but that does not give Shmuel Gonzales (a.k.a. “Shmu the Jew” the right to slander defame and lie about our online conversion program. Most of what Shmuel Gonzales (a.k.a. “Shmu the Jew” says about our award winning online conversion program is filled with lies, innuendo, improper facts. Gonzales (a.k.a. “Shmu the Jew”’s piece about us is full of grievous sins of lashin harah (gossip), richilus (tale bearing) and defamation. Judaism teaches God cannot abide in a universe with someone who embarrasses someone in public unjustly. The net result will be to drive would be converts to much poorer courses and programs.
    What you need to know
    1. We are the only program to win a gold medal in adult education. It is a phenonenal curriculum and students love it and are inspired and enriched by it.
    2. The Rabbi, who this fellow singles out, did resign in 2004 from his congregation after a friendship with a congregant went terribly wrong and he made a huge mistake. But that does not change the fact he is a brilliant, amazing Jewish educator with over 700 videos of Jewish content, seen and educating millions on the internet and helping thousands of Jews and would be Jews.
    3. Shmuel Gonzales (a.k.a. “Shmu the Jew” lied

    when he said the Rabbi resigned from the Rabbinical Assembly because of that. He resigned in 2011, 7 years later. The Rabbinical Assembly did not ban him. He resigned. The Rabbinical Assembly, foolishly in our opinion, rejects online learning for conversion. The Conservative Movement is falling apart, shrinking before our eyes each year, and they resist this innovative way to help Jews and would be Jews. Rabbi Ginsburg does not sit on the beit din since resigning, but simply helps out administratively.
    4. Our program has been a brilliant success. We have helped many hundreds become Jewish and participate all over the world, When the Rabbinical Assembly refuses to help them.
    5. Shmuel Gonzales (a.k.a. “Shmu the Jew” is an Orthodox Jew. He may be observant, but you cannot trust Shmuel Gonzales (a.k.a. “Shmu the Jew” to give an unbiased view of a non-Orthodox conversion program. Orthodox Jews simply think their way is the only way. It is tragic because there are many thousands of would be Jews all over the world who cannot find a nearby rabbi to teach them, but really want to be Jewish. With technology today, we think it absurd for Orthodoxy and Conservative to not allow them. We don’t expect Orthodox to accept this, (though quietly some Orthodox rabbis have when they see what a great curriculum we have and who signs our documents), but these people are living as Jews now because we made it possible, and participating actively all over the world.

    SShmu the Jew?

    6. Why were we singled out by the Rabbinical Assembly? Several of the other online conversion programs are supervised and developed by “Rabbis” ordained online. Their converts will never be accepted widely. A few others are supervised by only Reform rabbis. We have 12 Rabbis, all ordained from authentic, genuine, Conservative or Reform seminaries who participate in our beit din. We think it probable the Rabbinical Assembly wants to control the Conservative brand and feels we are a threat to that. We were the only online conversion program advertising that we were Conservative and they did not like that. We have offered to stop advertising we are Conservative, though seven Rabbinical Assembly members rotate on our beit din. Shmuel Gonzales (a.k.a. “Shmu the Jew” either simply ignores the truth or purposely misleads you. Shame on Shmuel Gonzales (a.k.a. “Shmu the Jew” for this

    7. Our Rabbis are all very distinguished Conservative and Reform rabbis, many with PHDs, most retired and have careers spanning 35-50 years of service to Congregations. Many have held and hold leadership positions in the Jewish world and believe deeply in this program or they would not sign their name to conversion documents. We’d be happy to have any prospective student speak with them.

    And disgustingly, / Shmuel Gonzales (a.k.a. “Shmu the Jew” impugns the integrity of a real baal tzedakah, who went through our program himself, and now helps support it and many Jewish philanthropic outreach and educational projects throughout the Jewish world, including Orthodox. Shame on Shmu the jew!
    8. Shmuel Gonzales (a.k.a. “Shmu the Jew” ignores the crucial fact that most of our students simply study with our course and then convert locally with rabbis nearby but NEED our course because the rabbis are too busy to teach them themselves or the students live too far for a regular brick and mortar course.

    Sha shame on Shmuel Gonzales (a.k.a. “Shmu the Jew” for trying to impugn their integrity. shame. shame.
    e hwe highly suggest that
    Sh Shmuel Gonzales (a.k.a. “Shmu the Jew” remove his defamatory, lying, slanderous blogs about our program, which divisively and shamefully impugn the integrity of great rabbis who are doing what they see needs to be done to be mikarave (bring closer to Torah) would be Jews. 

    • "Shmu the Jew"

      To the Headless Chicago Beit Din of Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg:

      I appreciate your patience as I have been focusing on the holiday, and my own family matters which take precedent at this season.

      Also I have also been asked by my leaders and mentors to show restraint, and resist getting caught up into the quagmire of your own making. This issue really has nothing to do with me, since I have just been reporting the facts as relayed by the people whom this affects.

      Across the board, rabbis and lay people agree there is no need to respond to people like yourselves who are clearly out of line, and show neither respect for G-d or man despite the religious overtones you use. Out of respect for the advice my leaders and mentors, I have refocused my work towards more worthy causes now.

      The fact is, this attack that you make against me shows your corporate lack of sincerity and responsibility. Instead of taking on the real issues, you have sidestepped the facts and played word-games with the issues you selectively chose to address. These aren’t real answers, this is nothing but posturing and excuses – something your colleagues and most objective readers see right through. Is this the way you really want to respond to criticism?

      With a lack of credible responses to provide all you have chosen to do is show your true face through a spasm of ad homonym attacks. It openly display for the public your latent bigotry and lack of ethics, which blinds you. And further spotlights your lack of reason and scholarly judgment.

      In truth, many people feel that I should be pleased to be attacked in such a way. Your reactivity in this manner proves how correct I am. In light of your own actions people say they can now more objectively see that you’re coming from a position which is damaging and not acceptable. You have proved the rightness of my claim by making such dramatic personal attacks, over and against factual discourse.

      Several people have already written to me to say that in light of this pitiful display, they cannot imagine signing on to a program that is run by such unprofessional, deceptive and callous people. I’m told to take comfort that this all is for good in the end, even as you mock me.

      In light of this, I’m okay with you personally attacking me. I’m big enough to take it, and my reputation stands on its own merit with a lifetime of honest and objective service to the Jewish people. I’m fine with you trying to debase me. Go ahead and keep up the attack website if you like.

      To the punk rock crowd, you have given me the greatest props ever. While all punk rockers aspire to take on corruption, dishonesty, commercialism, and such societal/communal ills caused by the irresponsible people who administrate the system, few ever get taken seriously enough that people attack them personally and defensively. Let alone so unsophisticated, inglorious, and angry. You just handed me my stripes on a silver platter. To memorialize this, the attacking statements from your business website is permanently archived for all time here:

      I also like the other cowardly blog you have on the internet:

      Strangely, by use of my pictures you prove the point that I’m a mamash punk rocker instead of just some trendy pretender like the ones you have had marketing for you. My friends and legal team actually think they look really cool, even if the photos are very staged and taken completely out of context. Your use of those specifically comes across as amusingly ironic to those who know my personality. How can we disapprove? 🙂

      In truth I am not a very pious or distinguished man. I’m not very educated or sophisticated. I’m silly, ethnic and unwashed. Its okay with you smearing me, I’m not that important. I’m just a young punk rocker, writer, and sincere man who loves Judaism. I’m just someone simple, who sees people misrepresenting the faith that I love with all my being.

      So go ahead and keep it up if you like, so that every time you see my face on your website, so you and those who inquire can see that it wasn’t some group of rabbis that went out on supposed attack against you for political or denominational reasons. It was the inquiries of an under-educated and unsophisticated kid that brought this to the light. I’m not that smart, but any person can see the dishonesty of your claims given the facts. The blogosphere you have been misrepresenting yourself on has taken you down, not a conspiracy.

      The fact is if I was spreading lies, and was truly causing defamation and slander you could easily refute me. But you haven’t. You could also sue me, but you haven’t. You could call me before a beit din of the Conservative Movement, to which I do answer, but you haven’t. Mesirah or rabbanim – your choice – you could take action if I was being dishonest and you haven’t. Because you cant, as the facts are correct. So instead you make such shameful attacks from your den like a wounded animal. I truly feel sorry for you.

      Since when is it right to deal with a blogger in such a way, especially one who deals with issues journalistically? To instead of dealing the facts, resort to religious shaming and intimidation? And lowering oneself to the level of highlighting another’s tragic illness, in such a way that is at worst cruel and at best cynical.

      While you attack me as being a dangerous Orthodox Jew, whats interesting is the only one showing an uncouthness that is similar to the haredi is you. False rabbinic statements by anonymous but supposedly reputable rabbis posting smearing statements against someone. Coming from people who have a history of perverted judgment and deeds. As you stick fingers in your ears and crying “lishon hara” every time someone merely recounts the perversity and corrupt nature of your own deeds, as if the tongue is not merely recounting your very own offenses. As if raising this is not relevant given the context. We see such attitudes all the time from the ultra-orthodox, but this lack of decorum is shocking from a rabbi who claims to represent the interests of progressive Judaism.

      I do receive much respect from Orthodox Jews, it is true. Yet I decline being labeled in such a way, I do not feel compelled by any sense of denominationalism. I respectfully decline your beit din’s upgrading of my status to Orthodox. No thanks! Actually, I contend none of you have the dignity to further define the personal status of anyone, let alone me.

      I also want to make it clear, I have not at all used my illness as an excuse to attack or shame anyone, neither have I used it to shy away from my determination to be fully responsible for my actions. Sometimes my body slows me down, but it never is used as an excuse or a justification. You much have me mistake with your own sheister.

      I want you to take notice, and let everyone be aware, that I had moved beyond this issue. It was something that I had laid to rest as the public has been sufficiently made aware of the true nature of these dubious programs.

      My most recent comments on this, came after much antagonizing from your side of the fence on this issue. Both supporters of Ginsburg and Patrick “Aleph” who continuously bated me on the issue. Including the person above claiming that I was being cruel to a sick persons who is challenged in ways I cannot appreciate. I responded only to share my true concern in that for this person’s well being, while also trying to dryly wrap up the issue once and for all.

      In wanting to be done with it I laid out how converts of the Chicago Beit Din have reported back. To summarize, I went one step further and laid out the mechanics of how this was pulled off so that individuals and their rabbis can identify the irregularities themselves. This is what earned me such ire, that I didn’t just make claims this time, but I said exactly how it was done thereby making your passing things off in this way near impossible. I then told to the public where to find the evidence archived, to research these facts themselves. Your reaction thus makes sense, claims are dismissible. While facts are not, so I can see why you are disturbed enough to now react so uncouthly and erratically.

      What makes this so unbecoming for you, is that the documents which support these claims have already been delivered to the rabbinical institutions for them to review. There is no question as to facts that you have been passing off unauthentic and unauthorized documents. And these are the only facts that I have not provided the actual documentation for, as I have made a commitment to not ever publicize the private conversion documents of converts, as these people who don’t deserve to be shamed themselves.

      But please notice, the confirmation that you have been passing off documents falsely branded as Rabbinical Assembly, is clearly substantiated there in the comments of the previous blog entry on this topic! By one of your converts. One of your own biggest supporters whom you converted and apparently ordained, he was one of the first to point out this fact to everyone. This has also been confirmed many times over through conversion documents presented by other converts of yours as well.

      Yes you have been misrepresenting yourselves. And that was what the point of these two blog entries, to documents the facts because between your program and Punk Torah you were changing the recriminating information. Then claiming, “We haven’t done that in a long time!”

      I would like you to take notice, that any person can go to Google and see the cached versions of your websites for themselves, and see with their own eyes you only recently changed them. I’m not sure you are aware how archiving and caching works, but just because you delete something on the internet it isn’t ever really gone. It can exist for time indefinite in the ether. Notice, it was just weeks and months ago that you were still ambiguous trying to pass yourself off as actual representatives of the Conservative movement.

      For future reference by rabbis and scholars on this issue, the information from these websites is archived. Even if the entry is later changed, the original entry and images still remain, along with a side by side, clickable displayed of how you have altered it since. Even if you delete, it will always remain. (example: ) People don’t need to merely take my word, as the archived documents speak for themselves. The dates on them show this wasn’t some far off past as you claim, this was quite recent.

      However, the documents that are now in the hands of the rabbis – your own conversion documents, some of them baring your own signature on them – show that you were not just misleading people through innuendo, but in fact. You did this when you passed off documents you are not authorized to manufacture and distribute.

      I contend that your conversion are not only misrepresentation of yourselves, but the signatures of your rabbis are indeed insufficient. You cannot really say any of you have any level of credibility based on your names and your own reputations. Hardly, considering that only after you resigned you started overlaying Rabbinical Assembly logos on to your conversion documents!

      And the claim that you did not represent yourself as authentically recognized by the Conservative movement is a blatant lie. The claim that you did not give people the expectation of being recognized by the RA is a total lie. Indeed a flood of people have contacted the RA not because they are just mistaken, but because you placed the phone number and website of the Rabbinical Assembly on the conversion documents you gave them! They are not calling and emailing to have these verified and fixed by the RA by accident!

      No, you caused all of this, Ginsburg. As if things weren’t bad enough before you resigned, you took it to grotesque levels after that. Its shocking to see how only then, post-resignation, you took a general Teudah Gerut and photo copied the RA letterhead over it to make it look official – even though these symbols and branding was not native or original to the documents.

      Furthermore, your self-branding documents are further suspicion raising for being long since outdated. (This is why we retire old letterheads as scrap, guys! Every secretary and registrar knows this very well, we need current documents for which the dates jive! And we destroy old ones so that unauthorized people cannot misuse them.)

      Upon review it is clearly revealed when comparing your conversion documents from 2011 against those you were offering as late as summer 2013, you added RA branding after the fact when your names could not really hold the weight of authority you claim for yourselves, so you had to steal the credibility of the RA. Yes you did, when you destroyed that frilly conversion document to add “Rabbinical Assembly 2009” and the number “212-280-6000” were it wasn’t before. Remember that? For shame, seriously.

      Those are the facts, for which physical proof and statements have long since been delivered to the rabbanim of the Conservative and Reform movements. I’m more prone to believe the testimony of multiple people and their physical proof, up against a dubious person who does game playing from behind a curtain.

      If Rabbi Ginsburg is such an honorable person and well respected person, how is that you admit that he at your helm, while only unnamed and in the third-person? Let’s be honest, its hard to talk about Ginsburg because his name is not spoken loudly in polite company. I can see why you just refer to him as a nameless “he.” You can’t name him, because any program associated with him is not valid. It is very clear that his name is not well respected, if you cant cite him or have him sign off.

      How can one take any of you seriously while you claim you have this great leader, but for some reason he must never be named?

      I’m not even going to get into a dance with your silly defense that the Conservative Movement is unfairly targeting Ginsburg. To go down the path that the Conservatives are the establishment overlords that are persecuting you. “We think it probable the Rabbinical Assembly wants to control the Conservative brand and feels we are a threat to that.” Of course they want to control their “branding,” and they have every right! And its a no brainier that they would take offense that you disrespect their values while still claiming to represent them. You not just claimed to be as good as the real thing, you went even further and tried to pass yourself off in their stead. There is no justification for that, ever!

      I make no bones about it, I further contend that halachically you have no right to represent yourselves before the Conservative or Reform movement at all, in any capacity. You are not submitted under the authority of their rabbinate, therefore it is inappropriate for you to take benefit from their rulings. The Shulchan Aruch is makes it clear, and it is supported by all these rabbinical associations, that principle of kafuf ha-somech applies to all smuchim. One can only take benefit of their rabbis rulings when they are in submission to them!

      Rabbi Ginsburg is in this position because he does not submit to their authority. Not only is he not submissive to their authority now that hes “independent,” he is not even re admissible to the Conservative rabbinate anyhow because of his prior lack of submission to them. How is it that Ginsburg thinks he can take leniency from among their rabbinic rulings, yet choose to ignore their halachic reservations? Foolishness.

      The issue is not that the Conservative Movement is too small for Ginsburg, the truth is that the Conservative movement just wont have him and hes trying to save face.

      The error here is not just with Ginsburg alone, it is also with everyone who collaborates with him. The supposed group of some two dozen rabbis. If you are such a respectable rabbinate of some sort, they why do you not disclose who you are? Every other rabbinic group lists their rabbis and member shluchim, why is that you guys only practice in the dark? How can that not be perceived as shameful, bearing all the bad signs of a black market deal. This is exactly how it looks when you answer neither to the rabbinical institutions nor the public.

      Maybe the reason you guys don’t give your full names and a list of your rabbinate is the same reason your don’t pick up the phone or drop an email to defend your converts before the rabbinical bodies when people’s conversion are in danger of being tossed out. Most likely because you are really are not all that reputable after all, so you don’t even bother to chime in or show your faces in their defense. Now that, that is shameful.

      If Ginsburg really took interest in this issue of converting the needy masses, then he would sensibly exclude himself from personally running conversion programs all together based on his history that impeaches him, and instead help promote a better system. If he really is a “philanthropist” then he would be giving money to help promote kiruv, not making money off of it! That is how philanthropy works, right? Gosh, the disingenuous of you guys just reeks.

      Whereas you try to ridicule me for pointing out the facts about cost involved, it is not without reason. Nor is it suspicious, it is relevant and a topic of importance to your converts. Sure I understand charging for materials and operating expenses for learning. Yes there is expense to mikveh and brit, but it is despicable that people are charged for you to convene a conversion beit din. Nowhere, anywhere, is this acceptable. Especially when you are essentially giving someone a “private conversion,” a type of conversion which is not widely acceptable anymore since the actual need (not the perceived need) to do things ad hoc is now unjustifiable at this point in history.

      Indeed in places like here in Los Angeles, our community beit din here has settled the issue of private conversions and groups not recognizing each other. This was accomplished by all the area’s progressive rabbis joining a community beit din overseen by the active rabbis of all the major progressive movements – Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative; ensuring recognition by all movements, aside from Orthodox.

      While the mikveh location charges a fee, the beit din does not and merely suggests donations to their organization.

      Charging a fee for conversion is unacceptable. Be honest with yourself. How can you take this solemn task seriously when you have personal financial interest in this matter?

      It is even worse that you charge for a service, and then stand back and become hands-off when it comes to defense of your conversions. As if when converts expect you to properly verify their documents upon inquiry and defend your conversions they are somehow asking you to do them a favor or something. This is a task normally expected of a rabbi as a natural part of their occupation, they should step up the plate when called, even more so because they have already been well paid for their assistance. Seriously, it is only logical that the public demand that you be more professional or get out of the business.

      I agree the money is probably not the biggest factor when it comes to why Ginsburg insists on doing this. Sure he has had a taste of the financial benefit of his program, and now is upset that this is being jeopardized by those who question him. So he cannot say that the money is not a factor for him, when he focuses on the fact so sorely himself.

      But neither is it true true that reaching out to the needy, in far out places that no one will help, and who have no other means. That is not all true, the man who you purportedly refunded was from Chicagoland. So no your aren’t just running a school, your business still revolves around performing conversion ceremonies. Be honest, its clear from your own literature.

      Honestly, the issues of Ginsburg’s personal ethical failures is something I have not at all been comfortable discussing, nor have I been cavalier about this. I understand that people make mistakes, I of all people understand that. But the reality is that Ginsburgs actions there disgraced him in a way which undoubtedly did harm his reputation. And in response to his own self-inflicted irrelevance he has had kept creeping from the dubious to the outright non-halachic, just to keep up appearances and avoid his new reality.

      In the end, the reason why I have restrained myself from speaking more on about Rabbi Ginsburg is because of the sorry stories I hear from the people he converted. That even as angry as they are with him, its hard for us to not want to have some rachamim upon a guy who is obviously still beating this drum because he no other marketable skills.

      In the end, instead of drawing people closer to G-d you are making it harder for them, and souring their experience with Judaism, often irreparably in their own minds.

      Shmuel Gonzales
      Hardcore Mesorah

      P.S. – I think its awfully egotistical for you to think that the Jewish world “NEEDS” you (in your own words, with emphasis your own). No, we really don’t. You aren’t that important, my friend. Can you not be more humble? Also, it is disingenuous for you to talk about how in your absence people will driven to worse programs. You should know, as you were the one that originally ordained Patrick “Aleph” of Punk Torah/Darshan Yeshiva and emboldened the other scammers. Yes there are other worse programs out there, but you inspired them. Programs like Punk Torah/Darshan with leaders who don’t know, and don’t want to know, why you don’t tie tzitzit around your belt loops. Where some people who write their yeshiva material cant decide if they might be karaites or “saduceess” that particular week. You were the inspiration for all of this as well, whether you like it or not.

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