Chief rabbi: Judges won't deliberate nullifying conversions
Rabbi's upheaval against overturning conversions takes shape. Ynet learns that Rabbi Amar signed new measures stipulating that every religious court must transfer cases on reversing conversions to him
Kobi Nahshoni • Ynet
Chief Rabbi of Israel Shlomo Amar signed over the weekend new measures stipulating that rabbinical courts will no longer deliberate misgivings regarding the validity of conversions, and instead will transfer such files to a special panel chosen by the rabbi himself, Ynet learned.
As part of his role as chief rabbi, Rabbi Amar serves as president of the Great Rabbinical Court and as the supreme rabbinical authority on the State conversion layout.
The new measures are the fruit of a joint initiative between the rabbi and the Justice Ministry in preparation for the High Court hearing on the petition against rabbinical judge Avraham Sherman's conversion nullifications.
Rabbi Amar handed down a similar order six months ago after Sherman nullified another conversion. The chief rabbi ruled then that a special panel would discuss such cases that reach the Great Rabbinical Court as appeals. Now, the measure was expanded to include all legal claims of this sort, including those reaching the regional rabbinical courts. This effectively blocks any option for overturning conversion without consulting the chief rabbi.
It is interesting to note that a rabbinical judge from Ashdod Rabbinical Court was the first to call into question conversions granted by Rabbi Chaim Drukman, which subsequently ignited controversy on the issue.
Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, who seeks to put an end to the phenomenon of conversion nullifications, is facing significant opposition from within his own court. Significant pressure is being placed on Amar both from within the haredi department of the courts and outside of it.
Rabbinical judge Sherman and his party, those who abide by the stringent Lithuanian halachic line, was recently joined by the legal advisor to the rabbinical courts, Attorney Rabbi Shimon Yaakobi, who ruled in his legal opinion on the subject that every religious judge has the authority to rule on the validity of a conversion.
Yaakobi demanded that the State adopt his position as the High Court's response to the conversion issue. Estimates indicate that Amar intends to render Yaakobi's drafted legal decision empty of content via the new measures he signed into force over the weekend rather than take him on directly.
This is a bold move on the part of the chief rabbi, who may pay a high public price in exchange with the Ashkenazi rabbinical leadership.
Dr. Aviad Hacohen, dean of Sha'arei Mishpat College who is representing the petitioners against the conversion nullifications, said in response: "This is an important and welcome initial step, and we hope it has a continuation. Indeed, as always, the test will be in the results: preventing illegal or unnecessary wholesale cancellation of conversions, and no less, the recognition of conversions carried out by law at the time of marriage registration."