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
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.