Monday, December 7, 2009

R' Metzger deviates from chareidi view on converts


In an unusual departure from the ultra-Orthodox stance, Israel's Ashkenazi chief rabbi has declared that anyone holding a conversion certificate issued by the State of Israel can register to be married in his place of residence. Yona Metzger's declaration, contained in a letter to the Knesset's Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, comes on the heels of converts' complaints that local rabbis were refusing to recognize them as Jews according to Jewish law and to register them for marriage.

In recent weeks, the organization ITIM (The Jewish Life Information Center), which represents conversion candidates in their dealings with the authorities, prepared to file a petition to the High Court of Justice on the matter.

In response to the complaints, Rabbi Metzger said that in instances in which rabbis refuse to register converts to be married, he would "authorize a substitute marriage registrar that would carry out what the law requires."
This is the latest development in a controversy which surfaced about a year and a half ago, after ultra-Orthodox rabbis in official positions announced there was no validity under Jewish law regarding conversions performed through religious conversion courts. Rabbi Avraham Sherman, for example, who is a judge on the Rabbinical High Court, ruled that thousands of conversions performed by the special religious conversion court (under official state sponsorship) were invalid.[...]


  1. It is a positive devolvement which shows that EJF/Tropper’s power is weaken, in June he had a conference in Jerusalem where he had local rabbis sign a document which they say they will not register converts for marriage unless they practice Haredi lifestyle.

    Good to know that Metger realized that he is an employee of the state of Israel and not Tropper’s/EJF employee

  2. Maybe it's just a stalling tactic. I don't know that Metzger appointees have the ability to override the Interior Ministry who will also put up a fight.

  3. I would not so much call it a deviation as a devious cicumvention. He is leaving in place the idea that any employee of the rabinnate can choose to refuse to recognize a conversion. But the Chief Rabbi will allow them local marriages through someone else without requiring them to go to another locale. This ammounts to a warrant for insubordination. Sort of like an officer saying to private, you can refuse my orders but I will demonstrate my committment to the army by assigning someone else the job.

    R. Metzger has has established that chareidim give him his marching orders but he does not exercise authority over the rabbis in his ministry. He is a figure head who photographs well with visiting heads of state and clergy and demonstrates his boldness by castigating spitters.

    How the might crown once held by luminaries like R Kook and R Hertzog has fallen. I suspect that chareidi elements maneuvered his appointment to disgrace the position itself. Even if they wanted control they could have found someone of stature or a a better reputation for personal probity. In fact they could outright take it over. But chareidi leadership has the best of two worlds; they castigate the position and declare it treyf but control its leadership and instigate insubordination.

  4. Recipients and PublicityDecember 8, 2009 at 6:12 AM

    Rabbi Metzger is caught between a rock and a hard place but he objectively and realistically did the right thing. Otherwise the secular Israeli courts will step in and make the logical necessary ruling that rabbis who work for the State cannot both take salaries from the state, claim they represent the state, and then turn around and decree on a whim that they will not approve conversions performed by other Batei Din that are officially sanctioned by the Israeli state's official Chief Rabbinate.

    Rav Eliashiv may have helped to get Rabbi Metzger appointed, very nice, but it is Rabbi Metzger who is in the hot seat as the Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel and not Rav Eliashiv. True, Rav Eliashiv is the RASHKEBEHAG of Klal Yisroel, which is great for those Chareidim who follow him, but the State of Israel does not follow the rulings of any Chareidi rabbis as far as is known, even if Rav Eliashiv was himself once a leading dayan of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, he is no longer one now.

    If there are those who cannot abide by the the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, and they are very Chareidi, they should look to the Eidah HaChareidit, or the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah of the World Agudas Yisroel, or Chasidic Batei Din for Halachic guidance. This differentiation has existed in the fields of Kashrut and Hashgochas for years, and now it must clearly also apply to geirus questions.

    Those who do not abide by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate cannot "demand" that it bend to their will just on their say-so, even if they can cite Rav Eliashiv, he is not now a dayan on the Chief Rabbinate's batei din. So make your choices and stick with them.

    Rav Metzger has done everyone a great favor and it's definitely a sign that he is a pretty smart fellow by avoiding a legal bloodbath and clash between the Israeli secular courts and its religious court system from which the latter could only have come out looking like it has a split-prersonality, muddled and disjointed, at war with itself, stupid and a total loser.

  5. R metzger and r omar have already posek that gush katif are not eretz yisroel !!!!!!!!!!

  6. Recipients and PublicityDecember 8, 2009 at 11:23 AM

    RaP stated: "This differentiation has existed in the fields of Kashrut and Hashgochas for years" -- as well as in marriages and divorces that are efficiently done and recorded by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, and if any Charedim or Chasidim do not like it, they simply follow their own respective dayanim and batei din, but they don't run around hollering and stammering that the Chief Rabbinate's Kashrut supervision, or its performance of marriages and divorces or that official records of those matters that are kept on official files in the Interior Ministry are somehow "wrong" or "deficient" -- so it makes perfect sense to expect that conversions be treated and handled the same way.

    Those who hate leniencies are free to follow their own chumras (stringencies) but they cannot impose such chumras on the whole of Israel and expect that everyone will not notice or just grin and bear it. The Rabbanut's standards have always represented the barest minimal standards, it was never regarded as the "deluxe model" of anything.

  7. Recipients and PublicityDecember 8, 2009 at 12:38 PM

    Can't be long now that Rav Elyashiv's 1999 pesak and the Knesset's plans merge into one comprehensive system that will finally place on record who is and is not a Jew.

    The "sefer yuchsin"/registry is on it's way, albeit care of the Israeli Knesset, and it will not be long before it can and should be utilized to create a "yichus" record of every living Jew, see "MKs pass controversial bill to set up biometric database" (Haaretz, 8/12/2009)

    This fits beautifully with the original prophetic call ten years ago by Rav Elyashiv for an official Registry of all halachic Jews and excluding non-Halachic Jews and gentiles -- before anyone even thought there would be an EJF scheme, as published in the English YATED NE'EMAN that has been online at:

    "From: Yated Neeman USA (Wed, 29 Dec 1999)
    Rav Elyashiv:
    "Independent Registry an Urgent Necessity"
    by Moshe Schapiro
    As hundreds of thousands of gentile immigrants continue to pour into Israel from the former Soviet Union, the Torah leadership of Eretz Yisroel has reached a momentous decision: to set up an independent registry to keep track of who is Jewish. Rav Yosef Shalom Eliyashiv and Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman strongly support the plan.
    "There is no longer any doubt that the majority of immigrants coming to this country are not Jewish," says Rav Yosef Efrati, Rav Eliyashiv's closest disciple. "The Jewish Agency itself admits this, and yet many immigrants are [falsely] given documents stating that they are Jewish. Two generations from now, their children will speak fluent Hebrew and behave like regular Israelis, and no one will be able to tell the difference. What will prevent them from marrying Jews?"
    According to Rav Efrati, Rav Eliyashiv shed many tears before finally arriving at this decision. He realizes that the establishment of an independent registry will divide the Jewish nation and evoke a strong backlash from the Israeli government and from the Reform and Conservative movements, as well as confuse and possibly alienate many non-aligned secular Jews. However, the alternative -- standing aside and allowing the wholesale infiltration of hundreds of thousands of gentiles into the Jewish People -- is totally unacceptable.
    To date, over 500,000 non-Jewish immigrants have entered Israel under the aegis of the Law of Return. The law grants full citizenship status not only to Jews, but also to gentile descendants of Jews, and to the gentile next of kin of gentile descendants of Jews. Often, the Jewish Agency flies entire clans of gentiles to Israel on the basis of a long-forgotten Jewish grandfather of one of its members. Lately, gentiles throughout Russia have been applying for citizenship on the basis of forged documents linking them to fictitious Jewish relatives who supposedly lived several decades ago.
    Though the immigration issue forced the decision to establish an independent registry, the system would solve many other problems that are not being addressed effectively by the governmental registry. For example, better tracking of mamzerim and Karaites [who have special marriage restrictions under Jewish Law].
    In view of the long-term repercussions of establishing the independent registry, the Torah leadership of Eretz Yisroel will involve spiritual leaders from around the world in the plan so as to gain as wide a consensus as possible before implementing it in practice.
    "Most Jews-even non-religious ones-identify with the halachic definition of who is a Jew. The key will be in how the plan is presented to them," Rav Efrati says. "This is one of the major obstacles to implementing the plan at this time. The Torah leadership of Eretz Yisroel wants to avoid alienating non-religious Jews at all costs. This would be counterproductive, since the objective here is to encourage every halachic Jew in the world to join the registry."[...]


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