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Saturday, 19 January 2008

Gentile Lubavitcher refused conversion

Gentile Lubavitcher refused conversion
By MATTHEW WAGNER
If you believe that a dead man is the messiah, does that disqualify you
from converting to Judaism?
Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar will be asked to decide this weighty
theological question and in the process pass judgment on thousands of
members of the messianic stream within Chabad Hassidism who believe that
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who passed away in 1994, is the messiah.
About two weeks ago a young FSU immigrant to Israel, who was eligible
for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return but was not considered
Jewish according to halacha, appeared before a rabbinic court in
Jerusalem to convert to Judaism.
He had become interested in Orthodox Judaism through Chabad and was
learning in a Jerusalem yeshiva. He wore a hat, a suit and tzitzit and
meticulously adhered to the commandments.
Prof. Binyamin Ish-Shalom, head of the Joint Institute for Jewish
Studies, where the young man prepared for his conversion, said that the
rabbinic court, impressed with the high level of adherence exhibited by
the young man, was on the verge of converting him.
"Suddenly, one of the rabbinic judges asked him if he believed that the
rebbe [Schneerson] was the messiah," recounted Ish-Shalom.
"He answered, 'Yes, that's what I've been taught,' or something like
that. And that was it; at least one of the judges refused to convert him."
Ish-Shalom rejected the notion that believing the deceased Schneerson
was the messiah constituted a form of forbidden worship.
However, a source in the State Conversion Authority said that at least
two leading religious Zionist rabbis ruled that messianic Chabad was
beyond the pale of normative Jewish belief.
"They [messianic Chabad Hassidim] attribute to him supernatural powers
years after he passed away. That is not Judaism. It's something else."

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