Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

15 Adar II 5760 - March 22, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Sponsored by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Produced and housed by

Guidelines for Marriage Registrars Regarding the Registration of Converts

by Betzalel Kahn

In light of the requests of marriage registrars throughout the country for clear guidelines regarding the acceptance of converts and the examination of the validity of their conversion certificates, the Vaad HaRabbonim Haolami LeInyonei Giyur headed by HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth, the gaavad of Antwerp, has issued the following directives.

According to the law of 1950, exclusive authority on the issue of conversion rests with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. A legal opinion of the chareidi attorney Refoel Shtub indicates that according to the law marriage registrars are not obligated to accept dubious conversion certificates. In a number of recent cases a few botei din invalidated "conversions" performed in Israel, even though the candidates involved had been accorded a certificate attesting to their change of religion from the Religious Affairs Ministry and a conversion certificate from the Chief Rabbinate. Halachic rulings invalidating conversion certificates were given after the beis din carefully determined that the conversions were halachically invalid and that the beis din has the legal right to invalidate them. These rulings were backed by Chief Rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi Doron in Kislev of this year.

According to the halocho, marriage registrars are required to examine every conversion and to ascertain if each candidate, at the time of the conversion, resolved to observe Torah umitzvos in total sincerity. This is based on a halachic ruling from 5744 signed by the Kehillos Yaakov (HaRav Yaakov Yisroel Kanievsky zt"l), HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt"l and yibodel lechaim arukim, Maran HaRav Eliezer Menachem Shach and Maran HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv, shlita.

The obligation to examine the sincerity of the conversion applies across the board, to all conversions whether performed in Israel or abroad, including those performed under the authority of the Chief Rabbinate, by rabbis even those who define themselves as Orthodox, and to conversions performed by the rabbinate of the IDF.

Various surveys conducted in past years indicated that only a small percentage of those who have undergone conversions actually take upon themselves to keep Torah and mitzvos properly. In recent years the situation has become even more serious and disconcerting, since the fence has been completely breached and thousands of conversions are conducted every year by the Israeli rabbinate's Conversion Administration which operates special conversion courts that perform conversions on a wholesale basis.

The Vaad HaRabbonim's guidelines require that in every doubtful case the marriage registrars must refer converts to a prominent beis din in order to examine the conversion. There are a number of prominent conversion courts who are experts in such examinations and do so in a thorough and dignified manner.

The regular beis din of Tel Aviv recently abrogated a conversion conducted in a special conversion court in Jerusalem. In the ruling it said: "This beis din decries the superficiality and lack of seriousness of the rabbis of the special conversion court." This ruling was supported by the Chief Rabbinate.

The Vaad HaRabbonim asks all marriage registrars to be on the alert and not to accept converts without ascertaining if the conversion was conducted according to the halocho. Such caution will help prevent the penetration of non-Jews into the Jewish Nation.

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