Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

5 Av 5761 - July 25, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Rabbinical Court System Funds Joint Conversion Institutes; Discriminates Against Orthodox Conversion Ulpanim
by Betzalel Kahn

The Rabbinical Court Administration of the Chief Rabbinate is continuing to cooperate and to channel funds to the Joint Conversion Institutes, in which Conservative and Reform are allowed to participate along with the Orthodox, which have been prohibited by all gedolei harabonim.

One year ago rabbinical courts director-general Rabbi Eliyahu Ben-Dahan, admitted that he was transferring funds to the Joint Conversion Institutes via his bureau, as reported in Yated Ne'eman. The funds are transferred despite injunctions by gedolei harabonim barring any form of cooperation with the Conversion Institutes and following a Chief Rabbinical Council resolution issued against them on 13 Shvat 5758.

According to a document obtained by Yated Ne'eman, the 2001 budget for the Joint Conversion Institutes comes to more than NIS 6 million ($1.5 million). These funds are designated solely for the Joint Conversion Institutes, while Orthodox conversion ulpanim receive a much smaller budget from the Ministry of Education. The Vaad HaRabbonim Haolami LeInyonei Giyur headed by HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth av beis din of Antwerp, says that Rabbi Ben-Dahan cannot be allowed to serve as a pipeline for the transfer of funds to an organization that has been barred by maranan verabonon shlita, and also a decision of the Chief Rabbinate Council. It should be noted that Rabbi Ben-Dahan is an employee of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate and therefore bound by the decisions of the Council.

According to reports received by Yated Ne'eman, an organization that works toward fairness in government plans to file a High Court appeal regarding the discriminatory funding policies.

The Vaad has expressed concern over the favoritism shown towards the Joint Conversion Institutes and the preferred treatment toward those who complete the course of study there. Despite the injunctions, the larger Joint Conversion Institutes' budgets could induce some teachers at the Orthodox ulpanim -- which are facing the threat of closure due to lack of funding -- to decide to move to the Joint Conversion Institutes for the higher salaries. Several botei din that specialize in giyur have already begun to convert graduates of the Joint Conversion Institutes.

The Director of the Rabbinate Courts announced recently that he sent several rabbonim to see what takes place at the Joint Conversion Institutes. It is unclear whether these delegations were approved by the Chief Rabbi of Israel, despite the sweeping injunctions imposed by all gedolei Yisroel and by the Chief Rabbinate Council. So far neither the results of the investigation nor the names of the rabbonim involved have been reported.

A Yated Ne'eman reporter tried to contact Rabbi Ben- Dahan with a series of questions regarding the accusations raised in this article. When no reply was received three days later, another attempt was made to contact him through his spokesman, who said the Director of the Rabbinical Courts declined comment.

All of the reports published so far are based on documents in the possession of Yated Ne'eman and on numerous testimonies provided by people involved in the conversion issue. Yated Ne'eman will continue to publish reports on the false conversions industry, which apparently has the full backing of officials at the Chief Rabbinate Courts, in direct contradiction with halocho and the directives of gedolei Yisroel.


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.