Thursday, May 04, 2006

Contesting Valid Conversions: The Rabbanut vs. the RCA

Yet another injustice seems to be happening in the Torah world. The Jewish Week reports, the Israeli Chief Rabbinate is refusing to honor conversions to Judaism performed by members of the RCA. Until recently all such conversions were accepted. And why shouldn’t they be? The Av Beis Din of the RCA court, the Beth Din of America is Rabbi Gedaliah Dov Schwartz. He is one of the most honorable people I’ve ever known. He is a Talmid Chacham, a Dayan par excellence, a scholar, and a Zaken. He has the respect of the entire spectrum of Orthodox Jewry in Chicago and has few peers. I have had many a conversation with him and every single time, his integrity stands out. He is not one to trifle with Halacha. If his name is on a document, one can be certain that it is valid. But that is no longer good enough for the Chief Rabbinate of the State of Israel.

From the article:

“... although the name of Gedaliah Dov Schwartz, chairman of the Beth Din of America, is on a list of American rabbis whose conversions are approved by the Chief Rabbinate, his signature on an authorized document is no longer accepted unless he personally performed the conversion.”

Why? How can they suddenly decide to reject documents signed by Rav Schwartz? What are they saying about this man of such great integrity? It is impossible in my mind that anything has changed with this man. The only thing that has changed is the attitude of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, a body which until now, I have honored.

But now, this piece of news makes me want to go to Israel and hit someone over the head with a “two by four”.

I realize that there has been a dispute between the Rabbanut Beis Din and the RCA. Can this be the cause, as the Jewish Week speculates? If so, it ought to stop. Too many innocent people are being hurt in major ways. To deny someone his Judaism for political reasons is to stoop to a new low. It is harmful to Klal Yisroel and makes them look like a vindictive group of rabbis. A real Chilul HaShem, in my view.