July 21, 2024
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Israel’s Chief Rabbi Warns He Won’t Approve Conversions If Conversion Authority Chief Is Removed

(Israel Hayom via JNS) Israel’s Chief Rabbi David Lau has warned that if the head of the Conversion Authority is removed as part of a planned conversion reform, he will immediately stop signing off on conversions, effectively bringing them to a halt.

In a harshly worded letter to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Lau informed Bennett “with great regret” that if the reforms are passed and Rabbi Moshe Weller is removed as head of the Conversion Authority, “I will be forced to remove myself from any responsibility for conversions, and will immediately stop approving any conversion certificates issued under [the new system].”

The reforms to Israel’s conversion system, initiated by Israeli Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana, would, among other things, allow city rabbis to operate conversion courts. The plan aims to help tens if not hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens of Jewish heritage who are not recognized as Jewish to convert. The conversion reform bill was set to be presented to the Knesset plenum for a first reading this week.

“The role of the head of the Conversion Authority is to implement the
halachic instructions of the president of the Great Rabbinical Court. And the head of the Conversion Authority has an obligation to ensure that the halachic instructions are followed,” Lau’s letter states. “Removing from office the person who is in charge of implementing halachic instructions cuts off the connection between the conversion system and the Chief Rabbinate, and will lead to a disconnection and lack of halachic responsibility for what happens during conversions.”

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