Israel's haredi-dominated state-sponsored rabbinic apparatus controls the personal lives of millions of Israelis. They cannot marry or divorce without it. Haredim continue to abuse that system and abuse the Israeli populace, as Rivkah Lubitch reports in Ynet:
A rabbinical judge ruled recently that a woman who converted to Judaism 15 years ago was no longer Jewish, and that her children, who were born after she had already converted, were also not Jewish.
Moreover, the judge stated that the woman's marriage was invalid, and that there was therefore no need to grant her a divorce.
The judge ordered that the woman, her children and even her husband, a Jew by birth, be added to the list of those not allowed to marry by an Orthodox rabbi.
Rachel (not her real name) converted 15 years ago in a special conversion court headed by Rabbi Haim Druckman. Following the conversion she married Boaz (not his real name), and they have lived in Israel ever since. There two children were brought up Jewish and Israeli.
Recently, the couple decided to get a divorce. They separated on good terms, reached a dignified divorce settlement and held a respectable divorce ceremony at the rabbinical court.
However, during the divorce process, one of the rabbinical judges decided to inquire a little further about Rachel's conversion, and asked her about her mitzvot observance. Displeased with the answer he received, the judge ruled that Rachel's conversion was null, and that subsequently her children were not Jewish too.
All conversions invalid
Did the judge forget the Halacha ruling that states that a convert is a Jew in the full sense of the word? Where is the "love for the foreigner" Judaism prides itself in? Where are the compassion and morality?
The judge in fact ruled that all conversions signed by the special conversion court were invalid, because the court was headed by "heretics" and "criminals." [I.e., Modern Orthodox rabbis.] This ruling implies that the thousands of conversions conducted by such courts were unacceptable.
Rachel and Boaz decided to fight the ruling, for their sake and the sake of their children, but their personal battle also represents tens of thousands of people, who according to the new rules will discover that they are no longer considered Jews and are therefore unable to wed by an Orthodox rabbi or be buried in a Jewish cemetery.
Rivkah Lubitch is head of the Center for Women's Justice Haifa office. She is a rabbinical pleader with six years experience and has an MA in the history of the Jewish people
[Hat Tip: KK.]
UPDATE 5-17-07: The Center for Women's Justice tells me the rabbinic judge in question is Rabbi Avraham Atiya from Ashdod.
UPDATE 5-18-07: The Jerusalem Post confirms the Ynet story and adds the name of the judge – Avraham Attiya of Ashdod, as we reported earlier. It is clearly a political decision. Rabbi Attiya refers to Rabbi Druckman as "Het," ("sin") in his judgement. I'll post the JP story after the jump …
Rabbi annuls conversion after 15 years
Matthew Wagner, THE JERUSALEM POST May. 18, 2007
A rabbinic judge has retroactively annulled a woman's conversion to Judaism, performed 15 years ago by the present head of the state's Conversion Authority.
In his extraordinary recent intervention, Rabbi Avraham Atia of the Ashdod Rabbinic Court also ruled that the woman's three children and husband were "unacceptable for marriage to the Jewish people."
Atia issued the ruling based on the woman's admission that she did not observe the halacha (Jewish law) governing Shabbat or family purity.
The woman had come to Atia for a divorce from her husband. But Atia ruled that she was not a Jew, since she had not intended at the time of conversion to adhere to halacha. Therefore, she did not need a get (writ of divorce), since Jewish law does not recognize the marriage of a gentile to a Jew, he said.
A copy of the ruling, which was issued in February, was obtained by The Jerusalem Post this week. Rivkah Lubitch, a Rabbinic Court advocate who represents the family, said she would appeal Atia's ruling in the High Rabbinic Court.
"Permitting the retroactive annulment of conversions means that the convert will live in a constant state of fear that he or she will one day not be considered a Jew," Lubitch said.
A week ago, Jewish Agency Chairman Ze'ev Bielski called on Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar to appoint conversion judges who were willing to be more lenient in the acceptance of converts.
However, Atia's decision highlights the difficulties that converts can face when their conversions are performed by more lenient rabbis.
Rabbi Seth Farber of the ITIM Jewish Life Information Center, an organization that helps Israelis navigate the bureaucracies of the religious courts, said he had dealt with several cases in which people converted by the Conversion Authority had difficulty being recognized as Jews when they registered to get married.
"This case highlights an absurdity," he said. "On one hand, the government created the Conversion Authority to augment conversions. But at the same time, other rabbis - also state employees - are disqualifying those conversions."
As part of his legal decision, Atia issued a nine-page attack, complete with scholarly rabbinic glosses, against Conversion Authority head Rabbi Haim Druckman, who performed the woman's conversion.
Atia's ruling never mentions Druckman by name, but rather refers to him by the Hebrew letter "het," a homonym for "sin."
Atia also attacked the Conversion Authority and the conversion courts that operate under its aegis.
"These 'courts' permit 100 percent gentiles to marry into the Jewish people," Atia wrote. "And they cause many people to sin terribly. And they have turned conversions into a joke. The judges are nothing less than blasphemers and evil-doers. And since the judges are criminals, none of the conversions they perform should be recognized."
Rabbi Moshe Klein, deputy head of the Conversion Authority, said in response that "Rabbi Druckman fears only God. Atia's vulgarity speaks for itself."
Klein said he hoped Rabbi Eliahu Ben-Dahan, administrative head of the rabbinic court system, would rebuke Atia, but Shimon Ya'acobi, legal adviser to the rabbinic courts, said there were no plans to do so.
"Within the context of a judicial ruling, Atia enjoys immunity from charges of slander," Ya'acobi said.
Sources familiar with the rabbinic courts said it was very rare for a conversion to be annulled retroactively.