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Municipal chief rabbis: Excommunicate rabbis who back religious reforms

CM 29/07/2021

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A group of municipal chief rabbis have called for excommunicating other municipal chief rabbis who establish kashrut authorities or their own conversion courts, as proposed by pending government legislation.
The list of rabbis includes the Chief Rabbi of Mevasseret Zion Rabbi Shlomo Ben Ezra, Chief Rabbi of Nesher Rabbi Yitzhak Halevy, Chief Rabbi of Ramle Yehiel Abuhatzeira, and several other prominent rabbis.
“A person whether rabbi or hacham or visionary who oversteps the boundaries to give kashrut [supervision] or who establishes conversion courts of any kind without permission from the leading rabbi of the locality, or the local rabbinate, or the chief rabbinate, will be excommunicated. He will be ejected from the holy community of rabbis and of the Jewish people and the trust in him to provide kashrut [supervision] or to do conversions will be removed. He will be like a false witness who is disqualified from giving testimony,” wrote the rabbis.
The letter was issued under the letterhead of the Committee of Rabbis of Israel and signed by hand by the signatory rabbis.
The letter refers to reforms proposed by Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana which would end the Chief Rabbinate’s monopoly on kashrut supervision, and allow anyone with qualifications to serve as a municipal chief rabbi to establish an independent kashrut authority.

In addition, Kahana also intends to introduce legislation allowing municipal chief rabbis to establish their own conversion courts, decentralizing the Chief Rabbinate’s control over the process.
After initially publishing the original letter, the same rabbis published a milder version of their missive, denouncing both pieces of legislation and any rabbi who utilizes such a law, but falling short of calling for them to be excommunicated.
The Itim religious services organization sent a request to Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar that a complaint be filed to a disciplinary court against the signatory rabbis, saying such language and threats violate disciplinary laws for religious services which prohibit municipal chief rabbis from acting against the law or government policy.
“It’s inappropriate and even illegal for government employees such as municipal chief rabbis to express their disagreement with government policy and threaten others who wish to implement government policy with all kinds of religious threats,” said Itim director Rabbi Seth Farber.
“Threats by rabbis have brought us to incredibly dark places in recent Jewish history. What ought to be a debate about the Jewish future and how to implement Jewish law in the State of Israel has become a forum where individual rabbis see an opportunity to destroy others.”

Source: Jerusalem Post

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