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Controversial Group Seeking ‘converts’ Among Non-orthodox

The Orthodox rabbinical group that prompted recent fury from just about every other Jewish religious group in the United States is now beginning a campaign to bring Reform and Conservative Jews into Orthodoxy.

The effort will involve staffing the Lower East Side offices of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada with volunteer rabbis who will respond to the flurry of phone calls and letters that the group says it has received since last month, when it declared the Reform and Conservative movements “not Judaism.”

The rabbis will help direct people to Orthodox synagogues and rabbis for counseling, said Rabbi Hersh Ginsberg, director of the organization, which claims more than 500 members and proudly describes itself as “right wing.”

He said the group has received some 100 letters over the last month, some negative, but the majority were “extremely encouraging to us.”

Dozens of Reform and Conservative Jews, he said, are “asking for help” to become Orthodox.

Rabbi Lennard Thal, vice president of the Reform movement’s Union of American Hebrew Congregations, said of the effort: “Such a campaign is patronizing, unwelcome and ultimately pathetic.”

The chancellor of the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary, Rabbi Ismar Schorsch, declined comment, saying, “I don’t want to demean myself” by responding to the plans of a group as marginal as the Union of Orthodox Rabbis.

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