An influential ultra-Orthodox rabbi who supervises conversions has stepped down abruptly from the organization he has led for about five years.
Rabbi Leib Tropper resigned this week as head of Eternal Jewish Family, the Monsey-based conversion group he founded. In an official EJF press release issued late Monday, two days after Rabbi Tropper’s resignation took effect, the rabbi cited a desire to pursue “a variety of other interests.
“I have decided to resign my position at the Eternal Jewish Family (EJF) effective December 12, 2009,” the statement read in part. “As a founder of EJF, I am proud of my role of being an architect of a very dynamic and important movement in our community. I will in the coming months do myutmost to be of service to the Jewish community in any way I can.”
Rabbi Tropper’s resignation comes amid reports that he was involved in sexual improprieties with a woman whose conversion he was supervising, according to Shmarya Rosenberg of the blog failedmessiah.com.
Posters in Orthodox neighborhoods in Jerusalem decried Rabbi Tropper for improper behavior, according to the Da’as Torah blog.
Calls to Rabbi Tropper’s home were answered by a recording announcing that his voicemail box was full. Eternal Jewish Family refused comment, and calls to Yeshivas Kol Yaakov, a yeshiva for returnees to Orthodox Judaism that Rabbi Tropper still heads in Monsey, were not returned. Rabbi Elya Ber Wachtfogel, named Monday as the new head of EJF’s rabbinic committee, did not return a call for comment.
Rabbis Tropper and Wachtfogel were instrumental in a 2005 ban issued by leading ultra-Orthodox rabbis against Rabbi Natan Slifkin, who writes on the interface of Torah and modern science. Rabbi Slifkin was labeled a heretic, and his books were banned, in part for suggesting the universe is older than 5,770 years.
In 2006, after Israel’s chief rabbis issued demands tightening the conversion process and regulating which Orthodox rabbis would be allowed to supervise conversions, Rabbi Tropper’s influence increased. That same year Rabbi Tropper is alleged to have revoked a woman’s conversion months after supervising it, upon learning that she occasionally wore pants.
A wealthy energy industrialist, Guma Aguiar, filed a suit against Rabbi Tropper in the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court recently, according to Arutz Sheva/Israel National News, claiming that he “misallocated funds intended for poor people in Israel.”
Rabbi Tropper’s online biography says he served as educational director at Ohr Sameach, a well-known yeshiva in Monsey for returnees to the faith. In 1990, Rabbi Tropper began an outreach program called Horizons, focusing on educating and inspiring the unaffiliated to experience a Torah lifestyle.