Israel has begun rejecting conversions to Judaism done by American Orthodox rabbis. The Interior Ministry recently rejected the requests of four American families to immigrate to Israel on the grounds that their conversion to Judaism was not valid.
The new conversion crisis
Akiva Novick • Yediot Achranot
Translation: Didi Remez • Coteret.com
Special to FailedMessiah.com
Now that the military conversion bill crisis has died down, a new and different conversion crisis is threatening relations between Israel and American Jewry. The Interior Ministry recently rejected the requests of four American families to immigrate to Israel on the grounds that their conversion to Judaism was not valid. Following this development, more than 100 rabbis from the United States sent a letter to Interior Minister Eli Yishai in which they protested his policies.
Upon assuming his duties as interior minister, Eli Yishai empowered Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar to oversee Orthodox conversions carried out overseas. The Chief Rabbinate decided to recognize only conversions that were carried out by the RCA (Rabbinical Council of America).
The main victims of this decision are people who underwent an Orthodox conversion, wanted to immigrate to Israel, but are now not recognized as being Jewish by the Interior Ministry because of the Chief Rabbinate’s decision.
The rabbis who conducted the conversions that were not recognized wrote to Yishai: “We are concerned that some of the conversions performed under our auspices are being questioned vis-à-vis aliyah eligibility. We find this unacceptable, and turn to you in an effort to insure that those individuals whom we convert will automatically be eligible for aliyah as they have been in the past.”
At issue are rabbis who head communities of tens of thousands of Jews, many of whom donate generously to Israel. The rabbis warned that this development could damage the donations.
Two people hurt by the new policy are Bruce and Fanny Smith of Brooklyn. “It simply hurts,” said Bruce last night. “We’re 100% Jewish, and we’re being barred from making aliyah to the Promised Land.” […]
The Interior Ministry issued the following response: “According to the ruling of the High Court of Justice, the fundamental condition is that the conversion be performed by a court that is recognized by the body authorized to do so. In all that pertains to Orthodox conversions, the authorized body is the Chief Rabbinate, and the Interior Ministry receives opinions from it.”