Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

23 Tammuz 5763 - July 23, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Mafdal Proposes New Head of Conversion Botei Din
by Betzalel Kahn

Attorney General Eliakim Rubinstein told Rabbinical Courts Director-General Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan that Rabbi Yosef Avior and Rabbi Tzefania Drori should be allowed to continue as dayanim in the Special Conversion Courts until they reach the regular retirement age of dayanim of 70, and should not be forced to leave at age 65, the the mandatory age of retirement from government service.

Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Yitzchak Levy has asked to appoint former Mafdal MK Rabbi Chaim Druckman "Head of the special conversion courts" following his recent dismissal for having passed the age of 70. Rabbi Druckman is known to readers of Yated for heading a conversion court in Or Etzion which follows in the footsteps of his mentor, former Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren, and is known for quick conversions.

Weeks ago, Rabbinical Courts Director-General Rabbi Eli Ben- Dahan instructed conversion courts heads Rabbi Chaim Druckman, Rabbi Yosef Avior and Rabbi Tzefania Drori to retire from their posts due to their age. The three asked to remain at their posts, claiming they were willing to work on a voluntary basis since this was not their primary occupation.

The special conversion courts are known for officially cooperating with the Joint Conversion Programs run by Reform and Conservative entities and banned by all gedolei Yisroel. These three dayanim have engaged primarily in quick conversions and in recent years serious claims have been lodged against them about invalid conversions they performed.

Last week Rabbi Levy sent a letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who also serves as Minister of Religious Affairs, proposing Rabbi Druckman assume the new position. "In this post Rabbi Druckman would be responsible for the work of the rabbinical courts (as much as possible) and the work arrangements for dayanim. In my opinion this appointment does not require an alteration in the decision of the Ministers Committee for Conversion Matters." Levy says this decision must be coordinated with the Chief Rabbinate, which is in charge of the rabbinical courts recognized in Israel.

In his letter, Rabbi Levy relates that Rabbi Avior's and Rabbi Drori's dismissals were being reviewed by the Attorney General, yet nevertheless he would like to appoint Rabbi Druckman head of the special conversion courts. "We have an interest in seeing these dayanim continue their work at the conversion courts and therefore a solution must be found to continue employing them in government service or in another manner since they contribute greatly to the conversion of those who ask to be converted."

Through the remarks made by the Mafdal's representative, Deputy Minister Levy, the party demonstrates its full support for the fictitious conversion industry operating through the special conversion courts. The letter exposes a bit of the tension between Rabbi Levy and the Mafdal leadership, and Rabbi Ben-Dahan. The latter's decision to discharge the dayanim infuriated the Mafdal and now the party is trying to have them reinstated and to have the Prime Minister undertake to contrive a new post and to find a way to continue employing the two other dayanim.

It should be noted that the Mafdal political party supported the establishment of Joint Conversion Institutes with the Conservative and Reform even though this was prohibited by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate. Rabbi Druckman has publicly demonstrated his cooperation with these Joint Conversion Institutes.

A spokesman for the the Vaad Horabbonim Haolami Leinyonei Giyur founded by HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth zt"l, said that any convert who does not sincerely and fully accept Torah and mitzvos at the time of the conversion has not converted, even bedi'eved. Documented evidence shows that the vast majority of the converts of the special conversion court system never intended to properly observe Torah and mitzvos.


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