April 18, 2024
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RCA Reaches Agreement with Rabbinate

Rabbi Mark Dratch of the Rabbinical Council of America confirmed today (January 19) that an agreement had been reached between the Grand Rabbinate of Israel and the RCA on how letters of “Jewishness,” of Orthodox couples wishing to marry in Israel will be handled.

For the past two years the Grand Rabbinate office had been rejecting a growing number of such letters, more than 10 in the past nine months until Rabbi Avi Weiss of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale and founder of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School in Riverdale, NJ had gone public with the rejection and his intentions to fight this in court.

Dratch said previously letters confirming a Jewish couple’s “Jewishness” or eligibility for marriage in Israel by a rabbi were taken by the couple to the rabbinate in the location of where they would be married. This letter would be transmitted to the Office of the Grand Rabbinate in Israel and then a decision would be made about the couple’s acceptability.

“What we have now is that the letters of RCA members will be accepted, the RCA will endorse the rabbi’s eligibility to write these letters and the Chief Rabbinate’s office will automatically accept them.”

He said the RCA is supporting their members’ ability in this matter and the issue of accepting or rejecting letters in Jerusalem is moot.

The agreed upon process is that the couple’s rabbi will send a copy of the letter to the RCA which will endorse the letter of all RCA members and send that to the Chief Rabbinate’s office in Jerusalem. The couple, with their copy, will present it to the rabbinate of where they wish to be married. If there are any questions raised by the local rabbinate the letter will automatically be approved by the Chief Rabbinate.”

Dratch said the agreement has been confirmed and they are just waiting to sign the document. As for letters written by Orthodox rabbis who are not members of the RCA, Dratch said the letters had been accepted and that since the Grand Rabbinate had accepted them they will continue to do so. “Rabbis (not members of the RCA) who would like an endorsement from the United States can get such an endorsement through the Beit Din of America.”

Both Rabbi Shlomo Weisman, Director of the Beit Din of America and Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, past president of the RCA could not be reached at the time of this writing.

By Anne Phyllis Pinzow

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