12/24/09

The Rabbi Leib Tropper Scandal - Most-Hollywood-Worthy of the Year

In a year in which we were beset with scandals in the Jewish community, this one is the most serious of all.

Here we have a rabbi, not in name alone, not on the periphery, not just bribing public officials for fun and profit, but working at ripping out the heart of the Orthodox movement.

Let us introduce you to Rabbi Leib Tropper.

Here we have a rabbi who insisted on the highest standards ever enforced for conversion to Judaism. He presented himself as a guardian of the purity and the sanctity of the People of Israel. He was head of the conversion organization, ironically called, Eternal Jewish Family.

Do you want to become an authentic Jew, accepted by all forms of Judaism? Then you must follow my standards, the rabbi said.

Here you have a rabbi whose activities caused international consternation - as he challenged and invalidated the conversions of other rabbis.

And now it turns out that here you have a rabbi who was in the business of converting Jews not for the sake of the sanctity of Judaism and the holiness of the Jewish people.

He was in it for the sex and the money. Now that is a scandal of biblical proportions. Even more, that is a story truly worthy of Hollywood.

Here you have a story that is a natural for a Law and Order TV series episode, maybe titled, "Exceptional Jewish Fraud" - ripped from headlines like this strange one in the Forward.
Advocate of Strict Conversions in Sexual Scandal
By Josh Nathan-Kazis

A key proponent of the successful campaign for stricter conversions in Israel and around the world has resigned from a senior post, and has not denied rumors of a conversion scandal of his own.

Rabbi Leib Tropper, a founder of the hard-line conversion group Eternal Jewish Family (EJF), announced that he had stepped down as its leader when allegations surfaced in news outlets that he had engaged in sexual misconduct with a woman while guiding her conversion. Tropper was among those responsible for major policy changes by the Israeli rabbinate that sparked a worldwide tightening of conversion regulations.

In a statement issued December 23 to the Forward, Tropper’s representatives said he “wishes to express his regret for the turmoil caused by his departure… and for what has appeared to be conduct not within our significant laws of modesty.”

“He was a big player in trying to make the conversion standards more extreme,” said Mark Angel, the modern Orthodox rabbi who founded the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals, which opposed Tropper’s reforms.

Now, in an ironic twist, the rabbi whose organization questioned the legitimacy of conversions performed by others has had his own conversions called into question. On December 21, the Rabbinical Council of America, the mostly Modern Orthodox rabbinic association, issued a statement in response to the scandal. “What we have heard, if true, violates the fundamental elements of all that Judaism holds sacred,” the statement read. EJF has been involved in conversions since its founding, in 2005.

The allegations of sexual misconduct against Tropper, reported first on the Web site FailedMessiah.com, cite leaked, unauthenticated audio and video recordings in which Tropper apparently discusses orchestrating sexual encounters between an unidentified woman undergoing a conversion and other men. These allegations were also reported in the New York Post...more...

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