Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

22 Adar 5759 - March 10, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly







Quickie Conversion Flouts Chief Rabbi's Ruling

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

Despite an unequivocal decision of Chief Rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi- Doron, Rabbi Chaim Druckman recently performed an "Orthodox conversion" in which he converted the last adopted child of the Kibbutz Hanaton conversion affair, whose case was brought before the High Court last week.

According to a report in Ha'aretz, Rabbi Druckman converted the child despite the fact that the child's adoptive parents do not observe any of the mitzvos, and did not undertake to pursue a religious lifestyle after the conversion.

As a result, the petition to the High Court by the Conservative movement and the foster parents was divested of its content.

The Hanaton affair involved 14 children who were adopted abroad a number of years ago. The batei din and the rabonim firmly refused to convert them, and as a result, they underwent Conservative conversions in kibbutz Chaniton in the north.

The Interior Ministry also refused to recognize these conversions and did not register the children as Jews. The adoptive parents then petitioned the High Court.

Following he petition, eight of the children were converted in rabbinical courts, with five more undergoing such conversions later on. Only one child remained unconverted. A year ago, Rabbi Druckman tried to persuade the foster mother of the child to submit her son to an Orthodox conversion, but she refused.

A short while afterward, another child who had undergone "conversion" in the Hanaton kibbutz joined the petition to the High Court, but he did not seek to undergo an Orthodox conversion, but rather the recognition of his Conservative conversion. The child's parents are currently abroad.

Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, the director general of the rabbinical courts, said that he would sign Rabbi Druckman's conversion certificates the moment he received them. "Chareidi pressures, if there are such, won't influence me," he said.

Rabbi Ben-Dahan is, in essence, invalidating the decision of Chief Rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron, that conversion is only binding if the parents and the child obligate themselves to keep the mitzvos. In this case, the conversion isn't halachically valid, because the child's adoptive parents refused to make such an obligation.

Rabbi Ben Dahan claims that the child could have been "converted" in an Orthodox conversion a long time ago, "however, the mother preferred to wage a battle on the back of the child." On the other hand, Rabbi Ben- Dahan said that he would approve Rabbi Druckman's conversion.

The Conservative movement claims that the rabbinical courts refused to convert the child for many years, even though he studies in a religious school. "The Rabbinate changed its position only due to the petition to the High Court, and once this was filed, it converted the children very quickly," said Ehud Bendel of the Conservative movement.

The Vaad Harabbonim Haolami l'Inyonei Giyur, repeated the position of gedolim of all times, that conversions may not be conducted outside of the permanent and prominent bottei din. A spokesman of the Vaad also stressed that the decision reached at last year's Convention of Dayanim remains the same.

"The only body which may conduct conversions is a permanent and prominent beis din," he said.

The Vaad is in possession of a letter from Chief Rabbi Bakshi- Doron, stating that no court or body may convert minors, whose parents do not pursue a religious lifestyle and who will not raise their children similarly.

The chairman of the Vaad asked Rabbi Ben-Dahan how he intends to sign conversion certificates which negate the position of the Chief Rabbinate and the position formulated at the convention of the dayanim. Rabbi Ben-Dahan replied that his responsibility for conversions conducted outside of the permanent bottei din is limited only to the administrative area.

The Vaad stresses that a conversion which does not meet the halahcic demands of sincere and complete kabbalos hamitzvos is not valid even be'dieved, regardless of which body or court conducted the conversion.

All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.