Ynet is reporting the Rabbinical Council of America will announce Monday that it has reached an agreement with Israel's Chief Rabbinate on the issue of who is – and who is not – recognized to perform conversions:
…The agreement is the product of a year long process. It involves the automatic recognition in Israel of conversions performed by any one of the participating Batei Din (rabbinical courts) which will be part of the soon to-be-established network of Regional Batei Din for conversion.
All participating Batei Din will work closely with the Beth Din of America, and its director Rabbi Yonah Reiss, in implementing the agreement. Some of the Batei Din are of long-standing duration, while others will be established in the months and years ahead, but all of them will follow the strict standards, policies, and procedures, that have been agreed upon.
These will include standardized procedures at every step of the conversion process, as well as standardized requirements, documentation, qualifications for batei din dayyanim (judges), conversion of minors, and resulting certificates of conversion. A central office will maintain comprehensive database information to ensure proper registration and sharing of information among participating batei din and the Chief Rabbinate in Israel and others around the world, in the present and for future generations.…
While some of this is clearly good, I get the distinct impression the RCA has caved into haredi demands and has made the new, "approved" conversion process harder and more onerous than Jewish law requires. If so, it is simply more proof that Modern Orthodoxy lacks the leadership – and the balls – to stand up to thugs like Israel's haredi Sefardic Chief Rabbi, Shlomo Amar.
UPDATE 4-30-07: The purported deal is not complete. the Israeli Chief Rabbinate announced late yesterday, in reaction to this story, which itself was based on a press release sent out by the RCA's executive director, Rabbi Basil Herring. Lots more needs to be agreed on, including which RCA courts are recognized and which are not, and all new RCA judges must go to Israel for "testing" before being approved. It seems the RCA's executive director jumped the gun in order to make himself look good during the RCA convention, held yesterday and today. Details here.