Sunday, June 22, 2008

Attorney General Scolded Rabbi Druckman, But No Charges Brought

De'ah veDibur reports: [helpfully referred by Recipients and Publicity]

The State Prosecutor's Officer has been ill at ease. An investigation conducted by reporter Eliezer Levine showed that efforts have been made to cover up Rabbi Druckman's acts because publicity could embarrass Attorney General Meni Mazuz, who decided to forego an investigation of the affair without offering any rational explanation. The State Prosecutor's Office is cooperating by keeping the extent of the affair under wraps and a series of potentially explosive documents that have been lying for weeks in the offices of the Chief Rabbinate, State Prosecutor Eran Shender and his assistant for criminal affairs, Shuki Lemberger.

The conduct of the judicial system and figures who identify with Rabbi Druckman, such as Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, who once served as head of the Conversion Authority, is highly suspect. In his letter the Attorney General lists numerous faults in Rabbi Druckman's conduct. Similarly letters by Rabbi Rosen indicate he viewed the matter in a very serious light and was debating whether Rabbi Druckman is worthy of sitting on the panel of a conversion beis din.

Yet surprisingly they recently chose to refer to the incriminating facts as a matter of little consequence. In an inexplicable move, various figures decided to back Rabbi Druckman and point a finger at the dayanim who stood up to him, merely doing their job by gathering the facts, particularly Rabbi Druckman's testimony, in order to issue a ruling.

From a legal angle the Attorney General views Rabbi Druckman's acts with great severity. Quoting a letter the Attorney General sent to Rabbi Druckman several months ago under the heading "Complaints Regarding Failures and Defects in Your Conduct," Mazuz writes, "I cannot accept your explanation as sufficient reason to sign an official document that does not properly reflect what is written in it. We are dealing with a conversion certificate, which according to the law in Israel has ramifications in terms of how the individual is registered and his or her status. As such those who sign these documents must list every detail meticulously."

Mazuz goes on to reproach Rabbi Druckman for his conduct. "Conversion dayanim representing the State should avoid performing conversions outside of Israel. The dayanim are supposed to perform conversions within the framework of the government system, which has guidelines and limitations on accepting conversion candidates, in part based on the legal situation in Israel which grants converts citizenship. In accordance with Interior Ministry directives, converts are not to undergo government conversion unless they are present in Israel." Mazuz cites a High Court ruling (Guzman vs. the State), which determined, "The beis din decision to stipulate the conversion conditions are only provided while the candidate is in Israel is a proper one."

Atty. Mazuz also discusses Rabbi Druckman's conflicting roles, i.e. serving as a government conversion dayan and at the same time as a private dayan. "A conversion dayan," writes Mazuz, "who in addition to his public work is involved in performing conversions outside of the government system, creates a conflict of interests and is liable to convert somebody who does not meet Interior Ministry guidelines."

Mazuz speculates that the case in question that he was referring to, in which Rabbi Druckman signed a certificate for a conversion that took place in Europe and falsely represented himself as having been present, may not be an isolated incident. "Material provided to me for review included additional complaints regarding conversions performed long ago and which allegedly included your signature on the conversion certificates relating to conversion cases in which you did not participate. It was also claimed that your beis din converted two tourists, in violation of the practice coordinated with the Interior Ministry."

Despite the serious flaws the Attorney General pointed to regarding Rabbi Druckman's conduct, Mazuz fails to reach any firm conclusion. The police have not received instructions to open a criminal investigation against him and the Civil Service Commissioner has not even been asked to hold a hearing for disciplinary infractions. In fact there has not even been a recommendation that Rabbi Druckman, who is directly subordinate to the Prime Minister's Office, resign from his post. "I've reached the conclusion that the combination of circumstances is not enough to justify opening either a criminal or disciplinary investigation," writes Mazuz. The Attorney General does acknowledge he found improprieties, saying therefore he chose to send the letter "to call his attention" to the matter.

It seems in this case that the Attorney General decided to switch from jurist to chastiser. Instead of doing his job and taking concrete measures he is acting like a retired judge, sending the unruly converter a lecture on proper conduct. Mazuz has not offered a single word of explanation why he opted not to launch a criminal investigation, leaving his motives shrouded in mystery.[...]

7 comments :

  1. Mazuz works for the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister just might need the Chareidi parties to shore up his coalition before his next tactical land giveaway. Is it any wonder that Mazuz would criticize Rav Druckman?

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  2. While it is clear that Rav Druckman acted dubiously in the capacity of government official. The question is was his signature a symbolic fixture on the documents or a functionary one. On this issue nobody is talking.

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  3. I do not believe that Yated Ne'eman is not a reliable news source. I assume anything they say a misrepresentation until proven differently.

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  4. Yated Ne'eman is no worse than any secular news source ie. LA Times, NY Times, which many feel are so biased that they may as well be considered editorials.

    As far as Jewish news sources, Yated Ne'eman ranks in bias equally with the Jewish Press, Forward, Jewish Week, Arutz Sheva, Jerusalem Post and Vos iz Neias.

    Every news source is biased, ALL editorialize in order to please their advertisers by maintaining their readership. (I write a column for a NY area Jewish newspaper. My editor tells me EXACTLY what to write so that my articles reflect the beliefs and opinions expressed to him by his advertisers!).

    Gil, you also edit the comments section of your highly intelligent and successful blog not only for lashon hora or inappropriate language but also to reflect the opinions of the majority of your readers.

    I have, on many occasions posted comments to your blog, then seen a follow-up post from another commentator complaining about my post, asking you to remove it and then its removed!! This is not exactly a "discussion".

    I love your blog and learn a great deal from it. I do not however kid myself (nor should anyone else) that it is unbiased or accurately reflects a range of acceptable viewpoints within Orthodox Judaism.
    Hirhurim is Rabbi Gil Student and Rabbi Ari Enkin's blog. Because I subscribe to most of your views I am a regular reader.

    Newspapers, blogs etc are not "all the news fit to print" but "all the news print to fit". Yated Ne'eman is not unique in this manner.

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  5. Yated Ne'eman is no worse than any secular news source ie. LA Times, NY Times, which many feel are so biased that they may as well be considered editorials.

    I think that this is incorrect. Yes, they are biased but nowhere near the extent of Yated.

    Gil, you also edit the comments section of your highly intelligent and successful blog not only for lashon hora or inappropriate language but also to reflect the opinions of the majority of your readers.

    Thank you for your kind words but I do not believe that this is correct.

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  6. Dear Gil,

    Most people don't think they are biased. But then again, bloggers
    ARE people who want to share their ideas with others.

    From Wiki:

    Bias is a term used to describe a tendency or preference towards a particular perspective, ideology or result. A person is generally said to be biased if a reasonable observer would conclude that the person is markedly influenced by inner biases, rendering it unlikely for them to be able to be objective.

    In practice, an accusation of bias often results from a perception of unacknowledged favoritism on the part of a critic or judge, or indeed any person in a position requiring the careful and disinterested exercise of arbitration or assessment.

    A bias could lead one to accept or deny the truth of a claim, not on the basis of the strength of the arguments in support of the claim themselves, but because of the extent of the claim's correspondence with one's own preconceived ideas. This is called confirmation bias.

    Hirhurim's comments policy states:

    This blog is intended only for the interchange of ideas for the purpose of Torah study, promoting enlightened public policy and/or the refinement of character. Comments in that spirit are welcome but those that entail denigration of character are not welcome and if they appear will be deleted upon discovery. Since editing is rarely feasible, comments that are deemed inappropriate will be deleted entirely or, if possible, edited.

    On 12/14/2006 -Syrian Jews:

    My experience with the SY community is limited to inadvertently going on vacation with them. I was amazed at the chain of command. The men were abusive to their wives and children and hotel staff. The women were abusive to the children and the hotel staff. The children were abusive to each other and the hotel staff. Apparently, complaints from the staff reached some of the "leaders" who were required to announce at shul that the actions of their "community" were creating a Chilul Hashem.
    anono | 10.16.07 - 6:35 pm | #

    Then there is this:

    "Check out "The Community" magazine - for a great laugh. The "Ask Jido" q&a are particularly hilarious - lots of us outside of "the community" laugh about the very important issues and answers. I mean this last issue was full of the horrors that can befall members of "the community" on vacations to Mexico - and they even cite an example of Mexico Mexicans asking about the disrespect with which they treated their hotels (after they covered the statues so "the community" could pray. . . .
    Kame'a Me'a Club "

    and this:

    is the trend for young 17 year old syrian girls to be matched up with successful business people in their 30's. this is a practice also common to parts of the Persian Jewish community in the USA. men are expected to become successful in business before they marry. Aside from the disparity in age, and the possibility of a large elderly widow problem down the road, simple human tendency and biology dictates that people who are "american in manhattan and syrian in brooklyn" will do as manhattanites between the ages of 18 and 35 do, vehamayvin yavin. some of their "involvments" will be J-dubs, but some will be shiksas. the edict is obviously meant to keep those shiksas in manhattan until such time as the business is on its feet and a nice "bijan" 17 year old is found.
    ben bayit | Homepage | 10.15.07 - 4:59 am

    denigrating Syrian Chief Rabbis:

    is the trend for young 17 year old syrian girls to be matched up with successful business people in their 30's. this is a practice also common to parts of the Persian Jewish community in the USA. men are expected to become successful in business before they marry. Aside from the disparity in age, and the possibility of a large elderly widow problem down the road, simple human tendency and biology dictates that people who are "american in manhattan and syrian in brooklyn" will do as manhattanites between the ages of 18 and 35 do, vehamayvin yavin. some of their "involvments" will be J-dubs, but some will be shiksas. the edict is obviously meant to keep those shiksas in manhattan until such time as the business is on its feet and a nice "bijan" 17 year old is found.
    ben bayit | Homepage | 10.15.07 - 4:59 am

    Maybe it's just another case of the Sefardi communal leadership lacking that interesting, seemingly Ashkenazi intellectual element we call "nuance".
    (I apologize if any sefardim are offended by the above. I know that not all sefardim lack nuance. In fact, some of my best friends are sefardim)
    dani | 10.15.07 - 11:59 am | #

    Put it another way: if living in $11 million homes in Flatbush and having the most wonderful Jewish community in the world in one's self perception is very important, fine. But if there is a price to be paid and that price is looking xenophobic, materialistic, tribal also fine. Nothing is free, right? Well that's the price the SY's pay. Evidently they're willing to pay it, but it's a bit rich to claim that their policy should cost them nothing.
    Anonymous | 10.15.07 - 12:26 pm

    then the first post appeared again a week later:

    This is consistent with my experience with the SY community, which was limited to inadvertently going on vacation with them. I was amazed at the chain of command. The men were abusive to their wives and children and hotel staff. The women were abusive to the children and the hotel staff. The children were abusive to each other and the hotel staff. Apparently, complaints from the staff reached some of the "leaders" who were required to announce at shul that the actions of their "community" were creating a Chilul Hashem.
    anono | 10.23.07 - 7:55 pm | #

    Note that the above anonymous post was posted twice, a week apart.

    How do these NOT entail denigration of character of an entire community????

    In fact, you were asked by PHR to:

    Gil,
    I think you should edit out the racist/ loshon horah comments. Communities are subject to these rules as well.
    pro-human-rights | 10.15.07 - 12:32 pm

    But none of these posts were edited or removed.

    I am biased.

    I was born and raised in the Syrian community of NY/NJ and IMHO it is one of the most inspiring Jewish communities in the world. It is said that "the streets in Brooklyn and Deal are paved in Chessed".

    This has been my experience and therefore the root of MY bias.

    I am a faithful reader of Hirhurim, I really enjoy the blog and tune in several times a week because I believe I learn a great deal from the articles and the discussions which are IMHO, intelligent and mind expanding.

    When I read the above comments about MY community, I really could not believe that it was your blog, because it was extremely uncharacteristic of your EXCELLENT blog. (I cannot tell you how often I say to myself "Let me see what Gil Student has to say about this issue so that I can better understand it).

    These comments really hurt me and other Sephardic Jews I know who faithfully read your blog. They were not edited even after PHR requested that they be removed. That hurt even more.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Recipients and PublicitySeptember 25, 2008 at 11:14 PM

    Mazuz backs Rabbi Drukman in latest move.

    Published Today [25 sept '08] at 07:55 AM News Source: Ynet

    Via VIN http://www.vosizneias.com/20771/2008/09/25/jerusalem-israeli-attorney-general-drukmans-conversions-stand/

    "Israeli Attorney General: Drukman's Conversions Stand

    Jerusalem - Attorney General Menachem Mazuz said Wednesday that the High Rabbinical Court's statement suggesting that the conversions preformed by Rabbi Chaim Drukman, former head of the Conversions Court, should be overturned, has no legal or halachic standing.

    Thousands of conversions preformed by Rabbi Drukman and Rabbi Chaim Avior have been called into question, after the High Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem decreed they must be disqualified. The controversial statement was made just days before Rabbi Drukman was ousted as chief of the Conversions Court.

    Mazuz was aked to weigh in on the matter by the High Court of Justice, following a petition made by a woman whose conversion was disqualified by the Ashdod Rabbinical Court some 15 years after it was decreed.

    Addressing the woman's case, Mazuz said that the Ashdod Court's ruling "was lacking in ways undermining its authority in the matter… moreover, the decision was detrimental to the basic laws of natural justice and procedural fairness."

    As for the High Rabbinical Court's statement questioning the validity of Rabbi Drukman's conversions, Mazuz noted that "beyond the fact that the High Rabbinical Court should never had been called upon within this case, the statement cannot be considered binding to anyone not directly involved in this specific case.

    "Therefore, the ruling made by the first instance (the Ashdod Court) and the one made by the appellate court (the High Rabbinical Court), and any statement made as to the validity of the conversions performed by Rabbi Drukman over the years, do not apply to anyone not privy to the case."

    The Rabbinate, added Mazuz, cannot stop or delay the marriage of proselytes, as long as they can produce the proper documentation.

    "As long as a conversion decree has not been rescinded by the appropriate religious authority, no rabbi or marriage registrar has the authority to question its validity," he said.

    Attorney Susan Weiss of the Center for Women's Justice, who represented the woman in question, said Wednesday that Mazuz's brief was "good news ahead of the New Year," adding it indicated that the legal system was taking a clear stand in favor of both converts and the common good."

    ReplyDelete

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