Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

22 Cheshvan 5769 - November 20, 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











National-Religious Ally With Secular to Set Up New "Conversion" Courts

By Yechiel Sever

Rabbonim and dayanim are protesting an alliance between secular and religious Zionists to set up conversion courts not associated with the Chief Rabbinate. These courts plan to add to the Reform and Conservative conversions performed through "secular conversion" and "national-religious conversion." These procedures will not qualify the so-called converts to marry through the Rabbinate, but according to a High Court decision the Interior Ministry will be obligated to list them as Jews in the population registry.

The main reason behind the new secular/national-religious coalition is the requirement of the Rabbinate that converts follow an observant lifestyle and educate their children to do the same, a fundamental demand without which any conversion is rendered invalid. The coalition was formed in response to this requirement, which prevents enormous assimilation and mass conversion among immigrants from the former Soviet Union, and following a ruling by the Rabbinate's Beis Din Godol that invalidated a conversion in which Rabbi Chaim Druckman Overlooked the requirement to accept Torah and mitzvas.

In response to announcements regarding the new "conversion" program, this week MK Menachem Ben Sasson (Kadima), chairman of the Knesset Constitution Committee, called for efforts to break the Chief Rabbinate's monopoly on conversion and marriage. Ben Sasson said he would promote an initiative to introduce these so-called conversions at "pluralistic conversion courts."

Rabbonim and dayanim issued harsh remarks against the partnership between secular and national-religious organizations, noting that dayanim have long been raising an outcry against conversions by Rabbi Druckman and other national-religious figures that have sunk to the level of Reform "conversions." Now this sector has begun to actively join forces with the Reform Movement in undermining the Jewish religion. Though predictable this decline remains deeply disturbing.

"The truth is this coalition has been operating in the Knesset for years," said MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni. "It has no authority or practical ability to act in conversion matters. Worst of all is that this coalition includes religious Zionists who we see in Knesset committees waging war against halacha and things sacred to Judaism. This coalition is clear evidence for those who still have doubts, of the battle waged by gedolei hadoros against ostensibly religious figures who favored compromise on every sacrosanct issue, fighting against the chareidi sector and its rabbonim.

"MK Ben Sasson wears a yarmulke on his head, but does not even merit a response. In all his actions throughout his two-and-a-half years as chairman of the Constitution Committee, he has surpassed the secular representatives in his instigations and actions toward undermining conversion, the status of the botei din and other issues. His actions reached new heights on the last day the Knesset was in session when he pushed through the Relative Funding Law, which stands in contradiction to halacha."

MK Rabbi Uri Maklev (UTJ) said, "We saw this trend during the past Knesset term: national-religious figures driven to alter accepted halachic practices — which makes them worse than the general population. This cannot be allowed to come to fruition and I hope during the upcoming term we manage besiyata deShmaya to prevent these dangerous remarks from having an impact."


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