The "conversion" industry in Ohr Etzion, headed by National
Religious Party MK Rabbi Chaim Druckman, is continuing its
activities in defiance of the directives of the Chief
Rabbinate. In addition, the rabbinical court there has not
received the approval of the Chief Rabbinate, since it lacks
an authorized dayan.
Although senior officials of the Chief Rabbinate are aware of
these details, they have not issued instructions to curtail
the activities of this special court.
Last month, Yated Ne'eman disclosed the fact that some
one hundred "conversions" conducted in the special rabbinical
court in Ohr Etzion were approved by Chief Rabbinate
officials. The approval of these "converts" had been held up
for months when it became apparent that the conversion court
was defying Chief Rabbinate directives, and the conversions
do not meet the minimal criteria determined by the Chief
Rabbinate for valid conversions.
It should be noted that these conversions were finally
approved only after heavy pressure was exerted by the heads
of the special conversion court, MK Rabbi Chaim Druckman and
Rabbi Yosef Avior. However approval was granted on condition
that the two promise that from then on they would obey the
directives of the Chief Rabbinate and operate accordingly.
Despite this clear commitment, the makeup of the court which
convened before Yom Kippur -- including Rabbis Avior,
Altshuler and Irom -- did not in fact meet the requirements
of the Chief Rabbinate.
Rabbi Avior has continued to perform conversions on minors.
Recently, acting independently, he converted fifty minors in
total violation of Chief Rabbinate instructions, which
specify that minors who are adopted by non-religious families
may not be converted.
These cases were sent for approval to the Director of
Rabbinical Courts, Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan. However, Rabbi Ben
Dahan received explicit orders not to approve such
conversions, despite heavy pressure exerted by Rabbis
Druckman and Avior.
In recent years, the special conversion court in Ohr Etzion
has become the most active special conversion court in the
country. Many cases rejected by rabbinical courts elsewhere
are transferred to this special court located in the Shapira
center of Ohr Etzion in the south of Israel. There,
applicants undergo accelerated "conversion" procedures that
do not conform to Chief Rabbinate directives.
Prominent activists have been shocked by the total
hefkeirus prevailing in this conversion court.
The court also "converts" foreign residents and tourists,
contrary to Chief Rabbinate directives that those candidates
should be evaluated and dealt with by the rabbinical
authorities in their countries of origin who are familiar
with the mental and cultural background of prospective