A letter from Maran Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv published today criticized Rav Ovadia Yosef’s approval of conversions officiated by the Israel Defense Forces, calling all those converted by the state gentiles. “Everyone knows that there gentiles do not intend to take upon themselves a thing from the essence of the religion, neither the Shabbos, kashrus nor taharas hamishpacha. And everyone knows…. That the gentiles do not intend to embrace Judaism,” Rav Elyashiv wrote in a letter signed by 17 rabbonim.
“We turn to everyone who can stop this terrible desecration, and to close the divider that has been breached,” the letter said.
The letter did not mention Rav Yosef. The letter was concluded with a statement saying “may the blessed Lord place wisdom in the hearts of the misguided.”
Rav Yosef said following his ruling that his decision was informed by his own knowledge and experience with the military rabbinate.
Under current practice, Israel recognizes only conversions performed by Orthodox rabbis inside Israel, but people converted by non-Orthodox rabbis outside the country are automatically eligible for Israeli citizenship like other Jews. The legislation would give Israel’s chief rabbinate the legal power to decide whether any conversion is legitimate.
The group most likely to suffer would be immigrants who converted to Judaism abroad and could now be denied Israeli citizenship.
Among the other signatories on the letter are Rav Shmuel Halevi Wosner, Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman, Rav Chaim Kanievsky, rav Michel Yehudah Lefkowitz, Rav Chaim Pinchos Scheinberg, Rav Meir Tzvi Bergman, Rav Yitzchok Scheiner, Rav Shmuel Aeurbach, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, Rav Yaakov Hillel and others.