Israel's Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar and the members of the committee he appointed to examine military conversions submitted their conclusions on Friday to Shas' spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. A source close to the committee said its members were expected to announce that they are unable to approve Israel Defense Forces conversions that have already been performed, and will only recognize those completed from now on.
Rabbi Amar to convert IDF troops?
Committee appointed to examine military conversions submits conclusions to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, saying conversions that have already been performed cannot be approved. Proposed solution: Rabbis Yosef, Amar will approve conversions themselves. Ashkenazi rabbis expected to object
Kobi Nahshoni • Ynet
Israel's Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar and the members of the committee he appointed to examine military conversions submitted their conclusions on Friday to Shas' spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
A source close to the committee told Ynet that its members were expected to announce that they are unable to approve Israel Defense Forces conversions that have already been performed, and will only recognize those completed from now on.
This means Shas and Rabbi Amar are reneging on their promise that the obstacle for recognizing military conversions was only technical and that they would eventually be approved.
Shas made the promise as it demanded that the government vote against Yisrael Beiteinu's military conversion bill and allow the Chief Rabbinate to solve the crisis itself.
Consideration irrelevant to Halacha
According to estimates, Rabbis Yosef and Amar will not annul conversions that have already been performed, but will ask for an extended period to approve them themselves, against the committee's stand.
As senior religious authorities, in their ruling they will use considerations which are not accepted according to Jewish Law: The fact that the controversial conversions have already been recognized by the wide public, the fear of a rift among the people of Israel, etc.
"Rabbi Amar understands that after the talks and promises he must remove this obstacle," said a source close to the committee. "He's simply going to be Shas' 'Shabbat goy'. But at least he has Rabbi Ovadia's support."
Such a halachic solution will not be accepted by the ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazi public. The Lithuanian rabbis are expected to strongly object it and refuse to recognize the military converts as Jewish.
Coalition crisis to worsen
On the other side, the Yisrael Beiteinu party will not settle for a partial and insignificant solution following the rabbi dispute, and will continue advancing the conversion bill despite Shas' objection, worsening the coalition crisis over the issue.
The rabbis' committee also ruled that as a condition for recognizing military conversions in the future, several IDF conversion judges must be dismissed, the converts' study period should be extended, and the military conversion system's procedures must be updated.
Knesset David Rotem's military conversion bill passed its preliminary reading at the Knesset about a month ago. The proposal states that the Chief Rabbinate's approval for conversions performed by the army would not be required.
Shas claimed that the law would affect the status quo and lead to a decline in the Rabbinate's status, accusing Yisrael Beiteinu of attempting to divide the nation. Rotem said in response that Rabbi Amar, who was abroad at the time, failed to solve the problem.
Rabbi Amar, who is considered the chief authority on conversion issues, appointed a committee to examine IDF conversions upon returning to Israel about a month ago.