TO: All EUPJ Rabbis and Congregation Chairs
Rabbi Dr René Pfertzel, Chair of ERA and Rabbinic Advisor to European Union for Progressive Judaism
Rabbi Dr Andrew Goldstein, Chair of European Beit Din
Rabbi Dr Jackie Tabick, Convenor of European Beit Din
The European Rabbinic Assembly of the EUPJ (henceforth ERA) is the voice of the Progressive rabbis in Europe, and has the role of supporting our rabbis and holding them and our Batei Din to the highest professional and ethical standards.
In view of this role, we expect that the standards and process for conversion throughout our synagogues will build on our shared trust and principles, so that people converted in any of our synagogues will be acceptable in any other of our communities, and they will also be able to make Aliyah.
We are reaching out to you now in order to explain and clarify the European-wide standards so that conversion within our movement will be seen as welcoming, acceptable and accepted. The trust which works within the EUPJ communities is particularly valued in the work of our Batei Din and how we resolve issues of status. ERA now has oversight and authority to make sure this trust continues to be merited across the Batei Din.
We would like to remind you that there are national and regional Progressive Batei Din working across Europe, who are part of the EUPJ family. These are listed below the signatures to this letter.
Under the auspices of the ERA, the territories of each Beit Din have been defined currently as described below. Only the European Beit Din may step in where there is no recognised Beit Din as yet in the country, or where it is clear that a country’s Beit Din is not functioning according to our agreed standards. While the regional and national Batei Din are the responsibility of their constituent Rabbinic Assemblies, the European Beit Din works on the authority of the ERA so as to have standing across Europe.
For the avoidance of any doubt, ERA and on their advice, EUPJ, have agreed that the Progressive Batei Din listed at the foot of this letter are the only Batei Din of Progressive Judaism that we recognise in Europe.
We are aware of ‘pop up’ Batei Din calling themselves Progressive Batei Din, and that some people are being drawn to them – usually via the internet – and in good faith receiving certificates of conversion that are not able to be recognised according to our ERA/EUPJ standards, and hence not acceptable for membership of our EUPJ communities. These certificates are also not acceptable to the Israeli authorities should the person want to make Aliyah. Frequently there is very little connection with a community or the Jewish people, minimal learning etc.
We know that the individuals so “converted” might be sincere and not realise the consequences of seeking conversion outside of our recognised Batei Din. Should such an individual approach you for membership you should make them aware of their situation and also inform them that the European Befit Din is happy to talk to them and help them to validate their conversion which will then have acceptance throughout the Progressive world.
If you have any queries please feel free to contact one of us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Progressive European Batei Din currently recognised by ERA and the EUPJ are:
The Beit Din of Liberal Judaism (U.K., Denmark, Ireland, Beit HaChidush, NL)
The Beit Din of the Movement for Reform Judaism (U.K.)
The Allegemeine Beit Din (Germany)
The Beth Din of the Dutch Union for Progressive Judaism (The Netherlands)
Kerem, the Beit Din of the French and Francophone Communities (France, Luxembourg, Belgium & French speaking Switzerland)
The Beit Din of the Swiss-German and Austrian progressive communities (German speaking Switzerland & Austria)
For all other areas not covered above, the European Beit Din has jurisdiction.