Cutesy titles annoy me but I couldn’t resist, or I should say I wouldn’t resist. Snippets of conversation here and there suggest that Bet Din’s function in less than optimal ways, particularly when it comes to conversions. One category is racial/religious: I’ve heard some racially charged stories about questions put to African-Americans, and then there’s the Jesus thing. That’s understandable, after all the point is to help an aspirant, and the court, figure out what one believes. Being Jewish is hard enough; being Jewish-Christian is that much more convoluted. I guess I wonder if our own ethno-cultural-religious chauvinism plays a role in this: we just don’t like or respect Christians or Christianity very much and therefore we don’t want those sorts of players on our team. We fear the Trojan Horse syndrome: they’ll damage us more if they get inside the city. And some of this is good old fashioned post-Holocaust rage: we can’t take our pain out on real live Christians who acted as perpetrators or bystanders, unless one of them shows up at our court wanting to become one of us. So we hurt the ones who actually want not to love us but to be us.
And then there’s the fertility challenged scenario of Jewish parents wanting to have a baby converted. The IVF or adoption or the other stratagems. Here again, life’s unfair: any Tom Dick or Harry can father a Jewish baby (as long as the mother is Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, or Leah), but if biology gets in the way not only are these families put through the wringer financially and emotionally, but they have to deal with these courts that make them wonder “why am I going through all this trouble to have a ‘Jewish’ baby when the Jewish court hassles me so much about trying to do just that.”
Last time I checked aren’t we still in demographic recovery mode from losing six million of our beloved people? Shouldn’t we be trying harder to make more Jews rather than push them away?