Waiting for the Beit Din
Our trip is far from the typical tourist jaunt to Madagascar to see the Lemurs and other exotic natural phenomena. We are here to see meet greet and encourage the fledgling Jewish community by our presence. Most importantly our task is to create a new community that is part of world Jewry in this unlikely place. This will be accomplished by converting those who have been practicing Judaism . For this purpose a Bet Din of three Orthodox rabbis who support the mission of Kulanu have volunteered. They are Rabbi Achiya Delouya, Rabbi Pinchas Klein and Rabbi Oizer Neuman. The conversions will be conducted in accordance to Halacha. Our hope is that the Jewish community of Madagascar will grow in length and breath and eventually become part of the fabric of the world Jewish community.
There is no way of knowing how many are practicing Judaism in Madagascar. There however three leaders who have somewhat different approaches. There is Ashrey one of the founders. Petoela, who is very involved in the study of Kabala by way of the internet. People turn to him for help dealing with health business and personal problems. He brings relief by means of prayer and Kabalistic formulas. There is also Toubie Hazan a follower of Hassidism with an emphases on Mitzvah observance.
His group is the only one that has it’s own synagogue space. Tobie is a wonderful Hazan in the Sefardic tradition.
These communities reflect the emphases on literal religion that is an important part of local society.
We had planned on doing around forty conversions. People however have been streaming in once they saw conversion as a possibility. We don’t know how many will come and what the quality of some of the candidates will be. The Bet Din will begin its work at 7:30 in the morning and continue through the day. It will be an exhausting job. Each candidate will be interviewed, Hatafat dam will performed on the males, They will then immerse individually in a river that serves as a Mikvah.
We have our work cut out for us.