Rabbonim have voiced disappointment over the failure of the Chief Rabbinate to carry through with a pledge made to a delegation of rabbonim led by Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger to circulate directives instructing marriage registrars on how to deal with individuals who underwent fictitious conversions.
According to Rabbi Shimon Yaakobi, the legal advisor for rabbinical judicial affairs, in all cases of uncertainty regarding a conversion, marriage registrars are authorized not to approve the marriage and to transfer the case to the regional Rabbinate beis din, which is then entitled to declare the conversion invalid.
As a result of large-scale immigration from the former Soviet Union and other countries, the wholesale conversion apparatus has been encouraging thousands of non-Jews to undergo sham conversions through truncated programs at branches opened at locations around the country. This policy has persisted despite the fact that to all those involved in the issue, particularly the members of the special conversion botei din, it is clear that the vast majority of those who undergo this procedure have no intention of keeping Torah and mitzvas properly, which is an absolute precondition for conversion.
Six months ago, various anti-religious figures launched a campaign against rabbonim who refused to register non-Jews who had undergone fictitious conversions for marriage. A large delegation of highly respected rabbonim then paid a visit to the office of Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger, presented the opinions of maranan verabbonon — including Maran HaRav Eliashiv, Rosh Hayeshiva HaRav Yehuda Leib Shteinman, HaRav Shmuel Halevi Wosner and the Admor of Gur shlita — and suggested ways to help marriage registrars in every location to stand up to Knesset members and legal advisors issuing threats and applying pressure to try to induce rabbonim to violate halacha.
Members of the delegation, which visited the homes of gedolei Yisroel and later Rabbi Metzger's office, included HaRav C. Blau, the chief rabbi of Ashkelon, HaRav A. Heishrik, a dayan in Tel Aviv, HaRav D. Wolpo, the chief rabbi of Rishon Letzion, HaRav Y. Peretz, the chief rabbi of Raanana, HaRav Simchah Kook, the chief rabbi of Rechovot, HaRav Nochum Eisenstein, chairman of the Vaad HaRabbonim LeInyonei Giyur, HaRav Yechezkel Salomon, a dayan and moreh tzedek, HaRav Naftoli Schreiber, of the Am Levadad Institute, and Rabbi Binyomin Rabinovitz, delegate coordinator.
Several days ago, the Chief Rabbi sent instructions to rabbonim and marriage registrars regarding how to clarify whether new FSU immigrants are Jewish, in view of the large number of applications to register for marriage. The original draft, sent out to rabbonim before Pesach, made no mention of how to handle those who present a conversion certificate or any case that raises suspicions the conversion was not performed properly.
When the rabbonim pointed out that the directives overlook the issue of conversion, office director Chaim Hamdinger promised that the final version of the directives, which would be disseminated after Pesach, would include clear instructions regarding the issue, yet in practice no such mention was made.