Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

7 Nissan 5762 - March 20, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Chief IDF Rabbi Confirms Hundreds of Soldiers Converted
by Betzalel Kahn

IDF Chief Rabbi Brigadier General Yisrael Weiss has confirmed that the IDF conversion beis din he heads converts hundreds of soldiers.

During an interview last week, when asked whether an option is available for soldiers to undergo conversion following their military induction Weiss replied, "What a question! I have been involved in conversions as long as the army has been involved in conversions, and I convert everyone who wants to become a part of the Jewish people. Not harshly, but in a civilized, friendly and humane manner, according to the criteria. Look at the hundreds of people we have converted and you'll see the results speak for themselves...On one hand we adhere to the halacha, but on the other hand we are careful to be humane, and the two are not contradictory, but complementary."

The specialized IDF beis din consists of Rabbi Weiss; Lieutenant Colonel Rabbi Shachar Matana, head of the Division of Personnel Management; and Dayan Avraham Elmeliach, the only dayan on the bench.

During a meeting of the Chief Rabbinate Council last year Rabbi Weiss said the IDF only converts soldiers when it is convinced they will keep Torah and mitzvos. "If we are unsure about someone we do not convert him," he said. According to Rabbi Weiss, every year approximately 100 soldiers convert, saying, "I don't see a large influx or an increase in the number of requests." The conversion process extends over a period of two years, during which an IDF rabbi is assigned to each candidate to teach him the basic religious precepts.

Rabbi Weiss acknowledges that the majority of requests are made by female soldiers, despite the fact that they generally serve a much shorter period than male soldiers, who are also far more likely to remain in career service. Last week, for example, he completed conversion proceedings for 16 soldiers of which only two were male soldiers.

Last year there was a long article in Yated which discolsed many shortcomings in the IDF conversion process, which functions under strict army security. However the Yated, together with the Vaad Horabbonim Haolami Leinyonei Giyur founded by HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth, was able to find out details. The Vaad repeats the demand of the gedolei haposkim that the IDF should not deal with conversion matters. All conversion matters should be the responsibility of qualified botei din, staffed by dayanim who are talmidei chachomim and yirei Shomayim who will ascertain that the candidates sincerely accept Torah and mitzvos.


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