Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Canadian perspective on the conversion crisis

The Canadian Jewish News presents a survey of responses to the ruling of the Supreme Rabbinical Court against Rav Druckman's conversions.
Conversion controversy rears head in Israel
By PAUL LUNGEN, Staff Reporter
Thursday, 15 May 2008

A decision by a haredi rabbinic appeal court in Israel has called into question the legitimacy of thousands of conversions by a respected Israeli halachic authority and prompted a heated and strongly worded rebuke from an Orthodox rabbis’ group.

At the same time, two rabbis associated with the Toronto Vaad Harabonim (Orthodox rabbinical council) say the Israeli decision will likely have no impact on conversions approved by the council’s beit din (rabbinical court).

In Montreal, meanwhile, the Israeli decision received the full support of the Orthodox Jewish Community Council, whose spokesperson, Rabbi Saul Emanuel, said “we will honour and respect this judgement.”

1 comment:

  1. "Rabbi Moshe Stern, a longstanding member of the Toronto beit din, said conversions performed by Toronto’s Orthodox rabbinic court have never been challenged by the rabbinate in Israel or by other religious authorities."

    How many of the Toronto Beit Din's converts or the offspring of female converts have tried to register a marriage in Israel?

    ITIM's website (Rabbi Seth Farber) still lists a section "Recognized Rabbinical Courts for Conversion"

    but the page is blank.

    A new section has been added to ITIM's website:

    Renouncing One's Conversion

    As a general principle, conversion is an absolute and irrevocable process that cannot be reversed either by the convert or by the bet din. Nevertheless, there is an extremely rare process, whereby the bet din nullifies conversion. This process can only be based on a claim that at the time of the conversion (and not after the conversion!) the convert had no intent to lead a Jewish life. The option for reversal of one's conversion is a source of controversy in the institution of the Israeli rabbinate, and for all practical purposes, conversions performed in recognized rabbinic courts are not reversed, except in the most exceptional of circumstances.

    Another new section has been added to the website which refers to the registration for marriage of a Jewish partner from abroad:

    Certification of Jewish status can be obtained from the local rabbi (if there is no doubt about Jewish status) or from the local rabbinical court (if verification and authentication of certain documents is necessary), for a fee. The length of time this process will take will depend on who is doing the investigation, where it is taking place, and the nature of the documents in your possession. In the process, the Jewishness of the mother of your partner is checked, using the documents that you have presented to the bet din (original birth certificates of the person in question, his mother and grandmother, his parent's or grandparent's marriage certificate or ketuba, or any other documents which indicate Jewish lineage) and through discussion with the mother and/or maternal grandmother of your partner. Old family photos of religious ceremonies, family graves with Jewish symbols, etc. can also be offered as evidence. If your partner has relatives on his mother's side, in Israel or abroad, who are recognized as Jews, representatives of the Rabbinate should be informed about them so they can interview them. Important: If any documents exist of Jewish marriages or divorces of your spouse's mother's relatives - performed in Israel - this entire process will probably be superfluous.


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