The Conference of European Rabbis announced this week that it would not recognize converts who were converted by rabbis in Israel, singling out Rabbi Haim Druckman, head of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate's State Conversion Authority.
"We oppose the phenomenon of Israeli rabbis shuttling to Europe especially to perform a conversion and then shuttling back," said Rabbi Moshe Lebel, Rabbinical Director of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER) in a telephone interview from Moscow. "These rabbis are not familiar with the reality in Europe," he added.
"I know of several cases where Druckman and other Israeli rabbis performed conversions for people who lived in communities in places like Germany and Scandinavia where it was almost impossible to adhere to a religious way of life. There was no minyan [prayer quorum], no kosher butcher, no mikveh [ritual bath]." The CER's decision comes just two weeks after a judge who sits on Israel's High Rabbinical Court, the most senior rabbinical body in the state, cast doubt on the validity of conversions performed by Druckman in Israel.[...]
In addition to authorizing conversions in Israel, Druckman has also performed dozens of conversions in European communities where there was no recognized rabbinical court. In the wake of Sherman's accusations, the CER has decided to invalidate all conversions performed by Druckman or other Israeli rabbis operating like Druckman in Europe.
"In Israel the argument can be made that non-Jews who convert continue to live in a state with a Jewish majority in which the dominant culture is more or less Jewish," said Lebel.
"But in Europe it is of utmost importance that the potential convert belong to a strong Jewish community after his or her conversion. The convert needs the support of the community to remain religious and observant."