Thou­sands ‘not Jewish’ af­ter con­ver­sion row

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY AN­SHEL PF­EF­FER

THE CHIEF Rabbi of Is­rael, Shlomo Amar, is to con­vene the en­tire Grand Rab­bini­cal Court to over­turn a pre­vi­ous rul­ing that could re­voke thou­sands of con­ver­sions made over the past decade.

Three of the more con­ser­va­tive dayanim [re­li­gious judges] from the Court last week pub­lished a rul­ing that said that all the con­ver­sions per­formed by the spe­cial giyur [con­ver­sion] courts were “null and void”.

The im­pli­ca­tion of the rul­ing is that over 15,000 con­verts who passed through the spe­cial court sys­tem, headed by Rabbi Haim Druk­man, may not be al­lowed to get mar­ried un­der the Is­raeli le­gal sys­tem, which recog­nises Is­raeli mar­riages only if they are per­formed by re­li­gious au­thor­i­ties.

The court up­held a pre­vi­ous lo­cal rab­bini­cal rul­ing in a di­vorce hear­ing which de­cided that a women did not need a get since her con­ver­sion was in­valid and she was ef­fec­tively not Jewish. In both cases, the dayanim were re­flect­ing the po­si­tion of many strictly Ortho­dox rab­bis, who op­pose what they see as whole­sale con­ver­sions tak­ing place in the spe­cial courts and ac­cuse Rabbi Druk­man of al­low­ing nonJews into the Jewish peo­ple.

Rabbi Amar has been try­ing to steer a course be­tween both sides, but in re­cent months has backed Rabbi Druk­man’s ef­forts. Over 300,000 new im­mi­grants have en­tered Is­rael un­der the Law of Re­turn, de­spite be­ing nonJewish, ac­cord­ing to halacha. For­mer Prime Min­is­ter Ariel Sharon said in the past that help­ing them to con­vert was “a na­tional mis­sion”.

The rul­ing caused an up­roar among or­gan­i­sa­tions work­ing with new im­mi­grants and lib­eral Jewish move­ments. Rabbi Amar promised the Ab­sorp­tion Min­is­ter, Yaakov Edri, that he would con­vene the full plenum of the Grand Rabin­ni­cal Court to over­turn the rul­ing.

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