On Holocaust Remembrance Day, the "High Rabbinical Court of Israel" made one of the darkest decisions in the history of the Jewish world. A copy of that decision, in Hebrew, can be found here. (Thanks to Failedmessiah.com for posting the link).
I understand the political calculation that occurred with the decision. I can even see the reason behind the decision from a political perspective--the Rabbinate wants to take back their authority on conversion. It was never the right of the Israeli government to establish a conversion authority and to approve the conversions of those who did not meet the qualifications of their Beit Din, as has been alleged. It was never the right of the Israeli government to try to establish a higher authority than that of the Rabbis in deciding upon the conversion of potential converts under Jewish law--that is clearly the place of the rabbis and not of government politicians, most of who are secular.
However, these political disputes ring hollow when they are applied to real people in real situations in Israel. Rabbi Druckman announced, in 2005, that close to 6,000 people would be converted in that year alone. Can you imagine how many people we are talking about when we try to imagine the retroactive cancellation of ALL of Rabbi Druckman's conversion court graduates for nine years??
It seems to me that the converts, many of whom were probably quite sincere, should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis--not just cancelled! We are talking about marriages, divorces, births, britot, kashrut, religious education, and Israeli citizenship--all hanging in the balance for these converts.
These are people's lives we have here! People's futures--not just the futures of the converts, but the futures of their children and their Jewish spouses.
In addition, the court has issued a ruling that the conversions of ANY CONVERT NOT KEEPING THE SABBATH--even those not converted by Rabbi Druckman--can be cancelled. This effectly creates a category of "lessor Jews" (against the Torah prohibition of accepting converts as Jews)--who have to look over their shoulders and worry every moment of their lives lest they be accused of desecrating the Sabbath.
Wear make-up--you may be breaking Shabbat! Pick up a stick--you have violated the law! Accidentally flip a lightswitch as you are leaving the bathroom?--Poof! There goes your conversion!!
And the potential for abuse is astounding. Don't want to clean up after your Shabbat dinner? Call a convert over and tell them that, if they don't clean up for you, you will turn them in for violating the Sabbath!
Married to a convert and want a quick divorce? Just accuse him/her of ANY violation and you are free! This is so dangerous and so hateful a ruling that I am beyond words.
They have done this during the Omer, of course. I guess we never learn about loving other Jews and the importance of being kind, do we? I fear the judgement that will befall all of us for this ruling.
May 2, 2008 12:06 | Updated May 2, 2008 12:31
Court retroactively revokes conversions
By JPOST.COM STAFF
In an unprecedented decision, the High Rabbinical Court of Israel has declared invalid all conversions performed since 1999 by Rabbi Haim Drukman, the head of the Conversion Authority.
The decision occurred after the court rejected an appeal of a ruling by Ashdod's Regional Rabbinical Court rendering a woman's conversion invalid.
In a 50-page decision, a panel of three high court judges ruled that all conversions conducted since 1999 by Rabbi Drukman, who heads the Conversion Authority, and another rabbi must be declared invalid.
They also ruled that it was permitted to retroactively cancel the conversion of someone who does not observe the Sabbath.
Finally, the high court ruled the Jewish status of the woman questionable and ordered that she and her children must be added to the list of me'ukvei nissu'in (people who cannot marry under Jewish law). Out of extra caution, her husband was also added to the list of illegal marriages despite his being a Jew by birth.
The story began in the course of divorce proceedings between the woman, who was converted by Rabbi Drukman's court 15 years ago, and her Jewish-born husband. After issuing her a get (Jewish divorce document), one of the judges at the Ashdod Regional Rabbinical Court inquired about her conversion and her Jewish observance.
On the basis of the ensuing discussion, the judge ruled the woman's conversion invalid, and in consequence, that her children, who were born after her conversion, are not Jewish.
As the decision was made after the court had already granted the woman a get in accordance with Jewish law, the court proceeded to write a document stating that the get was unnecessary, since the woman's marriage was also invalid under Jewish law.
The verdict rendered the Jewish status of thousands of converts retroactively invalid, and requires them to convert a second time.
Rabbi Drukman said the ruling was "cruel" and added that it was made without counseling Chief Spehardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar.