A woman who was converted to Judaism by Rabbi Nissim Karelitz’s haredi beit din (religious court) must re-convert, Israel's Interior Ministry says, and her two-year-old son must have a second brit milah (circumcision) called a hatafat dam brit, in which a drop of blood will be drawn from his penis at the point where the foreskin was one attached. The woman will have to re-immerse in a mikva (ritual bath) completely nude, with three male rabbinic judges supervising the immersion and watching. Otherwise, neither will be registered as Jews, the ministry said.
Israel’s Interior Ministry Refuses To Recognize Conversion Done By Leading Haredi Beit Din
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
A woman who was converted to Judaism by Rabbi Nissim Karelitz’s haredi beit din (religious court) must re-convert, Israel's Interior Ministry says, and her two-year-old son must have a second brit milah (circumcision) called a hatafat dam brit, in which a drop of blood will be drawn from his penis at the point where the foreskin was one attached. The woman will have to re-immerse in a mikva (ritual bath) completely nude, with three male rabbinic judges supervising the immersion and watching, Ynet reported. Otherwise, neither will be registered as Jews, the ministry said.
Karelitz is one of the top five or ten Ashkenazi haredi non-hasidic rabbis in Israel and, arguably, in the world today.
Israel’s haredi-controlled chief rabbinate recognizes the woman’s and her son’s haredi conversions as valid while the Interior Ministry, which argues that the woman chose to convert in a private haredi beit din rather than Israel’s national conversion system knowing that private courts are not officially recognized by the state.
Itim – a nonprofit headed by Rabbi Seth Farber that helps non-Orthodox and Orthodox Israelis weave their way through the byzantine labyrinth of agencies, ministries and offices, including the Chief Rabbinate, that regulate their marriages, conversions, divorces and burials – helped the woman and son file a petition with Israel’s High Court of Justice to try to overcome the Interior Ministry’s ruling.
The woman, a Peruvian national, claims she became interested in Judaism eight years ago and began studying it in Peru "without any ulterior motive" with and Israeli living in Peru whom she later married. Because there was no suitable beit din in Peru doing conversions, she went to Israel to convert there.
But because of alleged "of foot-dragging, bureaucratic complications and inappropriate treatment to the point of humiliation," at the hands of the national conversion system, she turned to Karelitz’s non-state beit din in Bnei Brak and was converted in early 2011.
One year later she was recognized as Jewish by the state’s official rabbinate in the city of Netanya.
Two months after that, she was married to her husband who had started teaching her Judaism in Peru.
The Interior Ministry then registered the couple as married.
But it refuses to recognize the woman as Jewisheven though the ministry does not dispute the halakhic validity of her conversion.
Approximately two years ago, the couple had a son who they had circumcised – but the ministry also refuses to recognize him as a Jew.
"Over the years, many proselytes who underwent a similar process to that of the petitioners were registered in the census registration as 'Jewish,' after it was clarified that the conversion process was sincere and real. Only in the past few years, difficulties have been created for these sincere proselytes,” the Itim-backed petition reportedly reads in part.
The petition also accuses the Interior Ministry of exceeding its authority, because "the Jewish halakha [religious law] determines who is a 'proselyte by conviction,' and when a rabbinical court or a rabbi register a marriage, being authorized by the state to decide on the matter, the Interior Ministry cannot undermine the decision or ponder it.… [the ministry violated human dignity, religious choice and the right to marriage, family life and parenthood] in a way which will stain their offspring forever and mark them as 'non-Jews.'"
In its response to the petition, the state accused the woman of lacking integrity.
She "failed to disclose factual details [in her petition]" and did not tell the High Court that she had been summoned to a state rabbinic conversion court several times to complete her conversion before she filed the High Court petition, but she chose not to show up and not to send a representative.
"Theoretically, the petitioner could have received her request…as long as she had reported to the special conversion court. In other words, in addition to the fact that the petitioner failed to include factual details in her petition, she also chose not to use a procedure available to her,” the state’s response says.
The woman's attorneys responded by saying that the woman suffered "despicable treatment to the point of real humiliation" when she did have contact with the state conversion court.
Among other things, her file was “lost" twice by the state rabbinic conversion court and her conversion approval was repeatedly delayed over a 20-month period.
"Only when all hope was lost and the petitioner could no longer endure the entanglement and humiliation she suffered at the conversion court, she was forced to turn to Rabbi Karelitz's court," the woman’s attorneys wrote.
They also argued that the state, through the actions of the Inerior Ministry, is forcing her to have her son undergo a hatafat dam brit for no legitimate reason "with all the trauma and physical and mental damage involved," violating the dignity of the child and his parents.
They also argued that the state’s demand for a re-conversion probably means the state will also demand the couple ‘re-marry,’ after the re-conversions are completed – even though the state is hiding that fact from the High Court now.
[Hat Tip: Rebitzman.]