Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

27 Iyar 5769 - May 21, 2009 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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High Court Tries to Interfere With Conversion Case

By Yechiel Sever

Once again the High Court has been involved in a bald attempt to interfere in halachic matters, trying to impose secular legal opinions on purely halachic issues. During a hearing early this week High Court judges issued an interim order affecting a psak din handed down at the Rabbinate Beis Din of Jerusalem.

The High Court was hearing a petition by a woman (T.W.) joined by several women's organizations in response to a ruling issued a year-and-a-half ago by the Rabbinate Beis Din of Ashdod.

The recent ruling by the Jerusalem Beis Din, led by Av Beis Din HaRav Avrohom Sherman, upheld the psak din of the Rabbinate Beis Din of Ashdod, where a bench led by HaRav Avraham Attia questioned the validity of a conversion, and prevented the woman in question from getting married pending clarification. During the course of the proceedings, the Beis Din found Rabbi Chaim Druckman, who subsequently resigned from his post as head of the Conversion Authority, had falsified information during the course of other conversion proceedings, including the names of the dayanim handling the case.

After maranan verabonon determined that the High Court case is a matter of public interest, the respondents were joined by Rabbi Tzvi Weinman, who has been battling false conversions for 40 years, and Rabbi Nachum Eisenstein, chairman of Vaad HaRabbonim Haolami LeInyonei Giyur.

Following this week's High Court hearing, the judges gave the respondents (i.e. the government) 90 days to submit a detailed explanation of why the conversion was annulled and in the interim ordered T.W.'s name removed from the list of psulei chittun (individuals who are halachically forbidden to marry Jews). So far the High Court has avoided issuing a clear decision on the annulment of the conversion, which is clearly outside the jurisdiction and expertise of any secular court.

Attorney Rabbi Rafael Shtub, who represented the respondents, Rabbi Eisenstein and Rabbi Weinman, said throughout the hearing and the opinion submitted by the Attorney General — which focused entirely on technical matters — "There has been a collective silence regarding Rabbi Druckman's falsification, and deceit in handling T.W.'s conversion."

"This is the first time we've encountered such a dangerous precedent of a court trying to dictate and interfere with halachic considerations and determine what constitutes conversion according to halacha," HaRav Leib Tropper, chairman of Eternal Jewish Family, told Yated Ne'eman. "And that's not to mention how the High Court is overlooking serious claims of false conversions, such as writing `before a bench of three' when no such bench was ever assembled.

"This is not merely an attempt to dictate the outcome of a particular situation, but an attempt to undermine the Beis Din's authority. As an organization with active branches around the world, we intend to bring the Jewish world and the Diaspora up in arms to keep anyone from diminishing the authority of Toras Moshe."

According to the spokesman for Vaad Haolami LeInyonei Giyur, the interim court order has no real significance because although the court issued instructions to have T.W.'s name removed from the list of psulei chittun, no rabbi in the world would allow her to marry since two reputable botei din have cast doubt on her status and accordingly she was not issued a permit to get married.

The High Court suggested that the petitioners present the case to the Tel Aviv Beis Din asking for clarification, but they are not expected to follow the High Court's advice since the Beis Din would certainly challenge the validity of her conversion after T.W. admitted she has never kept Torah and mitzvas.

Atty. Shtub says that the fact that T.W. and the women's organizations brought the case to the High Court was highly damaging to the petitioner and her family because the falsification and deceit during the course of the conversion have now come gotten a lot of public attention. Instead the matter should have been handled in a more discreet, dignified fashion he said.

Vaad Haolami LeInyonei Giyur has reiterated its support for the stance taken by the dayanim involved in the case, "especially Av Beis Din HaRav Avrohom Sherman shlita, who put a stop to the petitioner's conversion, thereby preventing non-Jews from entering Kerem Beis Yisroel."

Rabbi Nochum Eisenstein publicly called on Rabbi Druckman on an Israeli Radio interview this week to admit that he was tricked and that there was no proper acceptance of mitzvos and therefore the conversion is null and void. This would reestablish his honor and would reinforce the principle that conversion without kabolas mitzvos is not acceptable. It should be noted that in the new coalition agreement of the Israeli Government signed last month there is an explicit provision that all conversions must include a full acceptance of mitzvos.


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