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Rabbinical rebellion as dozens of rabbis vow not to recognize conversions

CM 11/08/2021

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The Chief Rabbis, the Council of the Chief Rabbinate and dozens of other senior rabbis from around the country declared a rebellion against reforms to the state conversion system and kashrut supervision in the country.
The assembled rabbis, including senior ultra-Orthodox figures and senior rabbis from the conservative wing of the religious-Zionist sector, declared that they would not recognize conversions done outside of the state conversion authority and would instruct their followers not to trust kashrut authorities established under the provisions of proposed government reforms to the kashrut supervision system.
Amongst the rabbis present were Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, Chief Rabbi David Lau, senior religious-Zionist leader Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, Chief Rabbi of Safed and senior leader of the conservative wing of the religious-Zionist community Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu and numerous others.
Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana has introduced a program for reforming the provision of kashrut supervision in the country which would abolish the Chief Rabbinate’s monopoly over the system, allow independent kashrut supervision authorities to provide kashrut licensing and supervision services instead of local rabbinates, but establish the Chief Rabbinate as a regulator over the new system.

Kahana also plans to introduce legislation allowing municipal chief rabbis – with qualifications given by the Chief Rabbinate – to establish their own conversion courts, as was the case in the past.
The Chief Rabbinate has denounced the reforms and vowed to combat them, and the conference it held on Tuesday constituted the next step in this battle as the rabbis who gathered at the event essentially promised a rabbinic uprising against the government’s proposals.
“We totally reject the dangerous initiative of the Religious Services Ministry whose program will cause the abolition of kashrut in the State of Israel, the opening of a bazaar of organizations with business interests who will give kashrut licenses… the result of which will be the destruction of kashrut,” stated the rabbis in a formal declaration following the conference.
“The rabbis of Israel declare that we will instruct those who follow us not to trust kashrut that is given in accordance with this program, which will cause the masses to err,” they added.
The rabbis also condemned the proposals to the conversion system, saying conversions “cannot be done due to civil, social, or cultural interests,” and that “anyone who sees mass conversion of non-Jews as a ‘national’ or ‘redemptive’ mission and whose goal is to avoid intermarriage by conversions done not in accordance with Jewish law will achieve the opposite goal, and will bring in non-Jews to the Jewish people under the guise of conversion.”
They added “Conversions conducted outside of the Chief Rabbinate will not be recognized by Israeli rabbis.
The goal of moderate religious-Zionist rabbis and groups who have lobbied for enabling municipal chief rabbis to perform conversions in addition to the central state authority is mainly designed to advance the conversion – with parental consent – of minors (according to Jewish-law, girls under 12 and boys under 13) from the immigrant community of the former Soviet Union.
Converting minors is a much simpler process in Jewish law than adults, and moderate religious-Zionist rabbis wish to facilitate their conversion to avoid future intermarriage in the Jewish state.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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