Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

16 Sivan 5768 - June 19, 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Attorney General Scolded Rabbi Druckman, But No Charges Brought

By S. Hacohen

The State Prosecutor's Officer has been ill at ease. An investigation conducted by reporter Eliezer Levine showed that efforts have been made to cover up Rabbi Druckman's acts because publicity could embarrass Attorney General Meni Mazuz, who decided to forego an investigation of the affair without offering any rational explanation. The State Prosecutor's Office is cooperating by keeping the extent of the affair under wraps and a series of potentially explosive documents that have been lying for weeks in the offices of the Chief Rabbinate, State Prosecutor Eran Shender and his assistant for criminal affairs, Shuki Lemberger.

The conduct of the judicial system and figures who identify with Rabbi Druckman, such as Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, who once served as head of the Conversion Authority, is highly suspect. In his letter the Attorney General lists numerous faults in Rabbi Druckman's conduct. Similarly letters by Rabbi Rosen indicate he viewed the matter in a very serious light and was debating whether Rabbi Druckman is worthy of sitting on the panel of a conversion beis din.

Yet surprisingly they recently chose to refer to the incriminating facts as a matter of little consequence. In an inexplicable move, various figures decided to back Rabbi Druckman and point a finger at the dayanim who stood up to him, merely doing their job by gathering the facts, particularly Rabbi Druckman's testimony, in order to issue a ruling.

From a legal angle the Attorney General views Rabbi Druckman's acts with great severity. Quoting a letter the Attorney General sent to Rabbi Druckman several months ago under the heading "Complaints Regarding Failures and Defects in Your Conduct," Mazuz writes, "I cannot accept your explanation as sufficient reason to sign an official document that does not properly reflect what is written in it. We are dealing with a conversion certificate, which according to the law in Israel has ramifications in terms of how the individual is registered and his or her status. As such those who sign these documents must list every detail meticulously."

Mazuz goes on to reproach Rabbi Druckman for his conduct. "Conversion dayanim representing the State should avoid performing conversions outside of Israel. The dayanim are supposed to perform conversions within the framework of the government system, which has guidelines and limitations on accepting conversion candidates, in part based on the legal situation in Israel which grants converts citizenship. In accordance with Interior Ministry directives, converts are not to undergo government conversion unless they are present in Israel." Mazuz cites a High Court ruling (Guzman vs. the State), which determined, "The beis din decision to stipulate the conversion conditions are only provided while the candidate is in Israel is a proper one."

Atty. Mazuz also discusses Rabbi Druckman's conflicting roles, i.e. serving as a government conversion dayan and at the same time as a private dayan. "A conversion dayan," writes Mazuz, "who in addition to his public work is involved in performing conversions outside of the government system, creates a conflict of interests and is liable to convert somebody who does not meet Interior Ministry guidelines."

Mazuz speculates that the case in question that he was referring to, in which Rabbi Druckman signed a certificate for a conversion that took place in Europe and falsely represented himself as having been present, may not be an isolated incident. "Material provided to me for review included additional complaints regarding conversions performed long ago and which allegedly included your signature on the conversion certificates relating to conversion cases in which you did not participate. It was also claimed that your beis din converted two tourists, in violation of the practice coordinated with the Interior Ministry."

Despite the serious flaws the Attorney General pointed to regarding Rabbi Druckman's conduct, Mazuz fails to reach any firm conclusion. The police have not received instructions to open a criminal investigation against him and the Civil Service Commissioner has not even been asked to hold a hearing for disciplinary infractions. In fact there has not even been a recommendation that Rabbi Druckman, who is directly subordinate to the Prime Minister's Office, resign from his post. "I've reached the conclusion that the combination of circumstances is not enough to justify opening either a criminal or disciplinary investigation," writes Mazuz. The Attorney General does acknowledge he found improprieties, saying therefore he chose to send the letter "to call his attention" to the matter.

It seems in this case that the Attorney General decided to switch from jurist to chastiser. Instead of doing his job and taking concrete measures he is acting like a retired judge, sending the unruly converter a lecture on proper conduct. Mazuz has not offered a single word of explanation why he opted not to launch a criminal investigation, leaving his motives shrouded in mystery.

Rabbi Druckman's Conduct from a Purely Legal Standpoint

The Druckman affair was brought to the attention of Attorney General Menachem Mazuz by Atty. Shimon Yaakobi, who serves as the legal advisor to the executive board of the Rabbinate botei din. A year ago a now-famous convert from Warsaw filed a request for proof of her Jewish status. After conducting a thorough inquiry, Yaakobi sent his findings in the form of a secret letter to Mazuz. The following are a portion of the paragraphs divulged by reporter Eliezer Levine.

1. Allegedly forged signature: "The enclosed conversion certificate was the same format as the form used by the special conversion court at the Shapira Center [headed by Rabbi Druckman] with a letterhead from the Jewish community in Warsaw...The document says it was signed on 11 Shevat 5764 [2004], but on this date and the period before and afterwards Rabbi Druckman was in Israel...This act is an act of fraud according to Para. 414 of the Penal Code."

2. Conversion outside of Israel: "According to the conversion guidelines set by the Chief Rabbi and the President of the Rabbinical Beis Din Godol, conversion dayanim may not perform conversions outside of Israel without prior permission from the beis din President. Such permission was not granted."

3. Conversion in violation of the Civil Service Code: "As a state employee, a conversion dayan involved in conversion outside of the botei din system without permission acts in violation of the Civil Service Code, calling for disciplinary action."

4. Not the first time, but a fixed pattern: "Three months ago a request was submitted for a conversion certificate at the District Rabbinical Court in Tel Aviv by a different applicant, under similar circumstances. It was reported that Rabbi Druckman was summoned to the hearing by the president of the Rabbinate Beis Din [Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar], and declared this was a one-time incident, promising it would not happen again. Now it has been found this was not a one-time incident. I have in my possession a file containing a report on dozens of conversion certificates signed by Rabbi Druckman, supposedly as a member of the beis din performing the conversion. According to suspicions this was a set practice over the course of years that became rooted in him, as if there was nothing wrong."

Atty. Yaakobi relates in detail why he suspects Rabbi Druckman of forgery. He cites Para. 414 of the Penal Code, which defines forgery as "creating a document that appears to make something that doesn't exist and which is liable to deceive."

In conclusion Rabbi Atty. Yaakobi writes, "I cannot close my eyes to wrongdoing...If Rabbi Druckman signs certificates whose contents are in no way truthful, how can his signature be relied upon?! I [would urge] marriage registrars to refer people who present such certificates to the Rabbinate botei din for checking to ascertain whether a proper conversion took place. I suggest this unfortunate situation and the social and political implications not be taken lightly...I am saddened over a cherished individual...who has been responsible for so many failures...It seems to me the issue calls for investigation and clarification by officials at the State Prosecutor's Office."


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