Rabbinic Conversion Court judges are more likely to reject prospective converts who were partially trained via the Internet, a senior source in the Conversion Authority said Sunday.
According to the source, about 70% of prospective converts who are interviewed by the conversion court are accepted. However, among prospective converts who were trained in part via the Internet, only about half are accepted, said the source.
The issue of conversions comes to the forefront ahead of Shavuot, which is celebrated with the reading of the biblical story of Ruth, the archetypical convert to Judaism.
According to the above-referenced conversion court source, the court can tell the difference between people who study partially using the internet, and those who study using only books and a face-to-face teacher. I maintain, however, that this isn’t a matter of the internet producing lower-quality students, or the internet providing lower-quality material, but students either not utilizing it properly, or students finding alternative oppinions of rabbis who don’t necessarily hold like the rabbis sitting on the conversion panel, and thus these students are disqualified. During my conversion studies in 1999/2000, if it hadn’t been for the internet, I would have never gotten the information I needed. I devoured JewFaq, and to this day I use it as a partial reference, along with Project Genesis and Aish Hatorah due to the almost complete inavailability of seforim in any sort of accessible format. And until this complete inavailability is changed, I’ll continue to do so, or I’ll have to buy print seforim and then scan them, correct the mistakes that creep in through OCR, and then, finally, read it. So in my eyes, this annti-tech decree strikes me as a luddite one at best.