Af­ter 30 years, woman told: ‘You’re no Jew’

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY ANSHEL PF­EF­FER

A RUL­ING by a re­gional rabbinical court in Is­rael to retroac­tively can­cel a women’s con­ver­sion to Ju­daism 30 years on is caus­ing a storm in re­li­gious cir­cles.

The de­ci­sion was made three years ago but only came to light this week af­ter the daugh­ter of the con­vert de­cided to ap­peal.

Giyurim (con­ver­sions) car­ried out by recog­nised rabbinical courts are usu­ally re­garded as fi­nal and ir­re­versible.

How­ever, in re­cent years, rabbinical judges have nul­li­fied a num­ber of con­ver­sions, usu­ally on the grounds that the con­vert did not ad­here to a re­li­giously ob­ser­vant life­style and there­fore their con­ver­sion was insin­cere.

But even in the con­text of a rab­binate adopt­ing a stricter line on con­ver­sions and the po­lit­i­cal bat­tle over who con­trols the giyur process in Is­rael, Sarit Azulai’s case, which was first re­ported this week by Ha’aretz, is un­usual.

Ms Azulai, who was born and raised as an Is­raeli Jewish cit­i­zen, reg­is­tered to marry in 2012 at the age of 28. Since her mother had con­verted to Ju­daism, the lo­cal re­li­gious author­ity de­cided to ex­am­ine the con­ver­sion, which had been ap­proved in 1983 by the then Chief Rabbi, Shlomo Goren.

Ms Azulai’s mother was queried about her lev­els of ob­ser­vance, af­ter which her con­ver­sion was nul­li­fied. The lo­cal Jerusalem Beth Din over­see­ing the case did not give rea­sons for the de­ci­sion.

Ms Azulai found out about the rul­ing only two weeks be­fore her wed­ding, and she had to scram­ble to find a rabbi who was pre­pared to recog­nise her as a Jew.

She is now plan­ning to ap­peal to the High Re­li­gious Court to pre­vent sim­i­lar prob­lems crop­ping up for her chil­dren in the fu­ture. The ex­pec­ta­tion is that the court will have lit­tle choice but to over­turn the rul­ing, since chief rab­bis have spo­ken out against the retroac­tive can­cel­la­tion of con­ver­sions. This will prob­a­bly not be enough to pre­vent in­di­vid­ual rab­bis and lo­cal Batei Din from making such moves, how­ever.

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