The Chief Rabbinate has issued a set of concrete guidelines to rabbonim on the issue of registering engaged couples in cases where a questionable conversion certificate is presented. Released for the first time, the directives instruct the rov handling the marriage registration to transfer the case to the regional Rabbinate beis din to clarify whether the convert genuinely undertook Torah and mitzvas at the time of the conversion.
Following a request by gedolei Yisroel, a delegation of chief rabbis of various cities met recently with Israel Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger, whose office is in charge of marriage registration nationally. They passed on important information on the importance of not registering couples in cases where a conversion was performed improperly.
Despite promises by Chief Rabbinate officials to issue clear directives by Pesach, the document was only sent out this week. Meanwhile rabbonim faced heavy pressure to register "converts" to wed and a High Court petition was filed against the chief rabbis of several cities who refused when there were evident problems.
In full cooperation with Rabbi Metzger's office, legally binding directives have now been published, thereby providing rabbonim the necessary backing to stand up against undue allowances for these so-called converts.
"In the case of an individual who underwent a conversion procedure and received a conversion certificate in accordance with conversion regulations and who elects to register for marriage," reads a letter by Atty. Sarit Dana, "the rabbi registering the marriage is authorized, if a serious doubt regarding the validity of the conversion arises, to refer the individual for clarification to the regional rabbinical court, with a special bench whose dayanim will be determined by the president of the Beit Din Godol."
The letter, which was used by the defense in the High Court case against the rabbonim, is based on a legal opinion written by Rabbi Shimon Yaakobi, the legal counsel for the rabbinical courts directorate, and signed by Atty. Shimon Ulman, the legal advisor to the Chief Rabbinate.
The Vaad HaRabbonim LeInyonei Giyur, founded by HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth zt"l, hailed the long-awaited directives and praised Rabbi Metzger and bureau head R' Chaim Hemdinger, who made concerted efforts to prepare the directives despite opponents both inside and outside of the Chief Rabbinate.
The directives, says a Vaad spokesman, are in accordance with a halachic ruling issued by gedolei Yisroel in 5744 (1984), and they clearly lay forth the Chief Rabbinate's stance for the first time.
Over the course of the past 26 years since then, in the absence of a clear set of directives, many stumbling-blocks have arisen in registering non-Jews for marriage, which led directly to bringing them into Kerem Beis Yisroel.
Vaad HaRabbonim added that now every rov with yiras Shomayim can stand guard against these fictitious conversions and uphold the unequivocal psak din by maranan verabbonon.