More on the Chief Rabbinate vs Beth Din of America on Conversions

I had posted on this.

The Jerusalem Post indicates that Rabbi David Lau is not opposed to the conversions performed by the Beth Din of America, however, Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef prefers to treat each convert individually. I do not understand the rationale from Rabbi Yosef. Unless the Beth Din is Pasul, the conversion has occurred (except in very extenuating circumstances which would have been in existence before the conversion). I am not at all sure Rabbi Yosef’s father, Chacham Ovadia ז׳ל would agree with his son.

For the record: All Geirim need to go through a proper process of learning and should be accepting of the yoke of Mitzvos. That is independent. I believe this would certainly be the case for the Beth Din of America.

Here is the article.

Understandings reached in 2008 between the Chief Rabbinate and the Rabbinical Council of America stated that an Orthodox conversion performed in America and given formal approval by a rabbinical judge from the Beth Din of America would be recognized as valid in Israel by the Chief Rabbinate.

However, this agreement has been unraveling in recent years, as numerous cases have occurred in which conversion approvals from the Beth Din of America and its most senior judge, Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz, have been rejected.

It is the rabbinate’s Department of Marriage and Conversion, run by Rabbi Itamar Tubul, which has been directly responsible for these rejections.

The department is under the authority of Yosef in his position as president of the Supreme Rabbinical Court, and sources in the Chief Rabbinate have indicated that he is responsible for instructing Tubul to adopt this new approach.

On Monday, an aide to Lau wrote a letter to Tubul, obtained by The Jerusalem Post, in which he stated that Lau had asked him to clarify to Tubul “once again” that “approvals issued by the Beth Din of America and signed by Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz should be recognized, and that they should be relied upon for the purposes of approving [conversion] certificates which are received from the US.”

Yosef’s office declined to answer an inquiry made by the Post as to whether the chief rabbi considers the understandings of 2008 as still operative.

On Sunday, a spokesperson for the Chief Rabbinate said that every case requiring conversion verification from the US “is examined on an individual basis,” and that “there are no all-inclusive approvals or rejections,” indicating that the Chief Rabbinate, under Yosef’s direction, no longer considers the 2008 agreement to be binding.

Lau and Yosef have had a high-profile quarrel for several months over various issues.

The ITIM religious services advisory group, which has represented many of the converts requiring recognition by the Chief Rabbinate, welcomed Lau’s comments to Tubul, but was critical of the fight between the two chief rabbis.

“The internal bickering in the rabbinate is taking place while converts are suffering. This is un-halachic and inhuman,” said ITIM director Rabbi Seth Farber.

“We call upon the Chief Rabbinate to immediately disband the department and issue a statement that all conversions done under the auspices of rabbis from halachic institutions will be automatically recognized. This is what was always accepted in traditional Jewish society and this should be today’s standard.”

לשנה טובה תכתבו ותחתמו

Author: pitputim

I've enjoyed being a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia, as well as band leader/singer for the Schnapps Band. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel and later in life at Machon L'Hora'ah, Yeshivas Halichos Olam.

5 thoughts on “More on the Chief Rabbinate vs Beth Din of America on Conversions”

  1. You have seriously defamed Rabbi Farber, and owe him an immediate apology and to delete your comments about him in this post. As far as I know nobody has ever accused him of apikorsus, nor has he said anything controversial about Bereishis or any other chumash, and I’ve never heard that he has any connection to Open Orthodoxy, a movement that didn’t exist when he went on aliyah. And ITIM can hardly get rid of him since he is the founder and pretty much identical with it.


  2. Just some of my thoughts on conversion

    Avraham asked his slave not to take for his son a Canaanite maiden as wife. (Bereshit 24, 3). Yitzhak also ordered his son Ya’akov not to marry a Canaanite (Breshit 28, 1). The Bible tells us whom we should not marry – the seven nation of Canaan (Devarim 7. 3) and an Ammonite or Moabite. Does it say anything about Giyur? We know our elders’ interpretation MOAVI AND NOT MOAVIA, to exclude Ruth the G-Grandmother of King David.

    Now we come to SHIVAT ZION and the books of Ezra and Nechemya. In Ezra (10, 2) we find:

    “We have trespassed against our G-d, and have taken alien women of the people of the land […] Now therefore let us make a covenant with our G-d to put away all such women […] and let it be done according to the Tora.”

    What is meant by “according to the Tora”? Metzudat David refers us to the seven nations in Devarim mentioned above, not others. In Nechemya (10, 30) we find written:

    “[…] and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord, and his statues; and that we will not give our daughters to the people of the land, or take their daughters for our sons […]”.

    Does Nechemya mean Ammonite or Moabite (see Nechemya 13, 1)?

    “In those days also I saw Jews who had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moav: and their children spoke half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the language of Yehuda, but according to the language of various other peoples” (Nehemya 13, 23).

    Nehemya made the people take an oath not to marry non-Jews, probably as a new law. Both, he and Ezra, came from the diaspora to a land populated mostly by foreigners and wanted to establish a Tora observant Jewish state that spoke its own language. They saw Judaism as Zerah Kodesh, an AM SEGULA. If so, than one cannot accept any foreigner, even after the strictest Charedi conversion.

    See also article by הרב יעקב מדן :

    If we go further, to the Hashmonean time we see that there was forced conversion to Judaism of the population. Josephus writes about Horkanos who conquered Adora and Marescha, Adomean cities. He allowed them to stay in their cities if they circumcise and adopt the Jewish laws. From that time onwards they were Jews (Kadmoniot Hayehudim 13).

    Yehuda Aristobolus conquered the Galilea and converted its population to Judaism. Galilea, in which the Jews were a tiny minority, had a strategic importance to the King.

    Who knows, maybe our ancestors are Adomean or Galilean converted by force by the Hashmoneans?


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