The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), representing over 1000 rabbis in matters of public policy, today thanked and commended Israel’s Chief Rabbinate (the Rabbanut) for publishing a list of nearly 70 rabbinical courts worldwide whose conversions it will accept and certify, and rebuked those who attacked the Rabbanut for producing the list. The Rabbanut issued their list earlier this week to assist prospective converts and promote transparency.
“The Rabbanut is charged with assuring the halachic Jewish integrity of Israel’s Jewish residents, including converts who plan to make Aliyah (immigrate),” explained Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer, Chairman of the CJV Rabbinic Circle. “By vetting and certifying those Batei Din (rabbinical courts) which meet the Rabbanut’s halachic standards for conversion, and informing prospective converts thereof, the Rabbanut is both serving the community and fulfilling its ‘quality control’ mandate.
“Those who demand that the Rabbanut blindly accept conversion courts without investigation demonstrate a stunning lack of awareness of both the complex and delicate nature of the conversion process, and the sad prevalence of rabbis performing conversions whose adherence to halachic standards is highly questionable. Thus critics of the Rabbanut call their own commitment to halacha into question. Would these same individuals insist that hospitals hire doctors who are not vetted and certified as experts in their specialties?”
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The CJV further noted that the same critics now bemoaning the Rabbanut list previously made false claims regarding a secret “blacklist” of “unacceptable” rabbis and called for the greater transparency now accomplished. The Rabbanut also clarified that the list is not a rejection of any court not currently listed, as the status of any individual Beit Din could be re-evaluated at any time. “Anyone can become a Jew via the correct process, but ensuring that process is followed is among the weightiest of matters Rabbis must address,” said Rabbi Gordimer. “This is no place to use shortcuts or play games – the actual Jewish status of our people is at stake.”
Rabbi Pesach Lerner, President of CJV, concluded, “The Rabbanut is protecting the rights of converts’ future generations, guaranteeing that they will be fully accepted and able to marry into any Jewish community they wish to join. And it is protecting our children, who may wish to marry children of these families in the future. We must continue to insist on the highest of standards, and support the Rabbanut for fulfilling this crucial charge.”
Rabbi Gordimer produced an extensive rebuttal of a leading critic of the Rabbinate, which was published on his blog at the Times of Israel.