“No convert can sleep peacefully in Israel. [All converts at any time can find themselves hauled into a haredi-controlled state rabbinical court and] interrogated about their lifestyle, and sometimes the conversion can be declared invalid. Now we see added to this circle the children of converts who were born and raised completely Jewish.”
Ruled Non-Jewish 3 Years Ago By State-Employed Chabad Rabbinical Judge Later Accused Of Corruption And Fixing Divorces, Israeli Woman Decides To Fight Back Now For The Sake Of Her Newborn Daughter
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
An Israeli woman, Sarit Azoulay, whose mother converted to Judaism in 1983 under the auspices of former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel Shlomo Goren, a former IDF chief rabbi, was told by the haredi-controlled Jerusalem State Rabbinical Court in 2012 that she is not Jewish because her mother’s conversion by Goren is invalid. Because of that the court would not allow her to marry her fiancee, Ha’aretz reported.
The rabbi who headed that court, Chabad Rabbi Chaim Yehuda Rabinowitz, was eventually forced to resign after he was investigated by police in an unrealted corruption and nepotism case. Rabinowitz is the father of Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the haredi state-appointed chief rabbi of the Kotel (Western Wall).
Azoulay was born in Israel after her mother converted. She was raised Jewish and served in the IDF. But at 28-years-old, when she decided to marry she was told by the state’s haredi-controlled religious apparatus that she isn’t really Jewish.
That haredi rabbinic decision was made because Azoulay’s mother appeared not to be fully Orthodox when she was illegally investigated by the haredi rabbis in 2012 as part of her daughter’s case.
Israel’s High Court of Justice and that state’s conversion law both forbid these types of investigations into longtime converts’ level of Jewish observance. But the haredi rabbinical court ignored the law and ignored the High Court.
“The [haredi rabbinic] judges heard the witnesses and then began to ask about me, who I am, what we do on Shabbat. Then the judge asked me to call my mother, in the middle of the workday. He asked her what the Torah portion was for that week, and of course she didn’t know. He then asked if she observed Shabbat and niddah,” Sarit told Ha’aretz.
Two weeks later, Sarit’s mother – who was divorced from Sarit’s father two years after Sarit was born – was summoned to the state rabbinical court where the three haredi rabbinical judges – Rabinowitz, Masoud Elhadad and Yaakov Eliezerov – grilled her about her lifestyle and level of religious observance.
And then Rabinowitz – who was at that very point in time allegedly deeply involved in fixing divorce and child custody cases handled by his daughter and son-in-law – and Elhadad and Eliezerov refused to recognize the mother as Jewish. That meant Sarit was not Jewish either, and the haredi state religious establishment refused to allow her to marry her fiancee – himself the son of a converted mother. It was two weeks before the couple’s wedding date.
Sarit and her fiancee went to Rabbi David Stav of the moderate Zionist Orthodox Tzohar organization. Due to a change on Israeli law, Stav had recently gained the legal power to register marriages of people who don’t live in the town of Shoham where he serves as th community rabbi.
Stav registered the couple for marriage and the marriage went on as planned.
This year, three years later, Sarit gave birth to a daughter. To protect her baby daughter from possible later harassment by the haredi-controlled Chief Rabbinate, Sarit appealed the 2012 ruling meant to prevent her marriage. That appeal is being handled by Dr. Susan Weiss, a longtime activist for women’s rights and thorn in the side of the haredi rabbinical court judges who so often abuse their power.
Weiss noted that a haredi-controlled state rabbinical court headed by Rabbi Avrohom Sherman, a close follower of then-supreme haredi rabbinic leader Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, invalidated thousands of Modern Orthodox/Zionist Orthodox conversions several years ago, apparently at Elyashiv’s request. Elyashiv was for the last four decades of his life a vehement opponent of the Chief Rabbinate and especially of former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren, who converted Azoulay’s mother. (FailedMessiah.com reported extensively on the conversion invalidations and Elyashiv’s role in them at the time).
The haredi-controlled Supreme Rabbinical Court at first upheld Sheman’s conversion invalidations but soon afterward reversed itself when it became clear the High Court of Justice would step in and overrule it.
“No convert can sleep peacefully in Israel,” Weiss told Ha’aretz before Shabbat. All converts at any time can find themselves hauled into a haredi-controlled state rabbinical court and “interrogated about their lifestyle, and sometimes the conversion can be declared invalid. Now we see added to this circle the children of converts who were born and raised completely Jewish.”
Azoulay said the whole affair has been traumatic for her mother.
“Since the  hearings in the rabbinic court, [the whole issue] been taboo for her. She lives in Jerusalem near the rabbinic court and has avoided walking by it since then. She is hurt. She is a Jew who chose Judaism and they put a knife in her heart. But I very much wanted to reverse this ruling.…When I brought my baby girl into the world, I told myself it was not fair to bring her into a world where someone doubts her Judaism.”