Israeli Chief Rabbi ‘Stunned’ By Alleged Blacklist Of 160 Diaspora Rabbis

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At a time of heightened tension between diaspora Jewry and the state of Israel over religious issues, the Israeli Chief Rabbinate sought to distance itself from a controversial alleged “blacklist” of 160 diaspora rabbis.

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel David Lau’s office this week said Lau is “stunned” by the purported blacklist, which includes prominent American and Canadian Orthodox leaders. The diaspora rabbis were reported as having been banned by the Chief Rabbinate from performing conversions and/or confirming the Jewish status of immigrants. But both the list and its implications were mischaracterized, sources said.

The Jewish Link of New Jersey obtained a letter from Rabbi Moshe Dagan, the Chief Rabbinate’s director-general, to Rabbi Reuven Tradburks, the Rabbinical Council of America’s (RCA) representative in Israel, which states, “The list that was released is not ‘a list of rabbis who are not recognized or authorized.’ Rather, it is a list of rabbis who received a response of ‘not recognized’ for some reason or other by the Division of Personal Status and Conversion of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel for whatever documents concerning marriage they had presented.” RCA Executive Vice President Rabbi Mark Dratch confirmed the correspondence between his organization and the Chief Rabbinate.

Rabbi Gil Student, editor-in-chief of the Torah Musings website, called the alleged blacklist “a list of rejections without the necessary information to draw meaningful conclusions.”

“[The list] doesn’t say why [diaspora rabbis’] letters were rejected,” he said. “Was it because the letter lacked a date stamp, or because the signature didn’t match the letterhead or some other bureaucratic reason? No information.”

Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, co-founder of the Nefesh B’Nefesh aliyah agency, found his name on the “blacklist.” But Lau met with him July 11 to address the issue and reject any rumors regarding Fass’s status. “I regret that this incident may have called your reputation into question. The Chief Rabbinate recognizes and appreciates you as a rabbi and all that you have done for the Jewish people,” Lau told Fass.

After the meeting, Fass said, “The Rabbinate should serve as a shining example of unity and connectivity within Judaism and promote its positive values in order to bridge any divides and prevent sinat chinam (baseless hatred).” Fass expressed hope that a healing process would develop between the Chief Rabbinate and diaspora rabbis.

The alleged blacklist of Orthodox rabbis comes amid tension between Israel and America’s Reform and Conservative Jewish movements, in relation to the issues of conversion and egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall. The Israeli cabinet had advanced a bill seeking to consolidate all conversions to Judaism within Israel under the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate, but in late June, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a deal to delay the bill by six months while a government-appointed committee examines the issue.

(Jewish Link of New Jersey/JNS.org)

{Matzav.com}

10 COMMENTS

  1. “as having been banned by the Chief Rabbinate from performing conversions and/or confirming the Jewish status of immigrants”

    The second part, confirming the Jewish status, is a bit of a joke. If a person wants to make Aliyah through Nefesh B’Nefesh they need a letter from a Rabbi that will only be looked at by a secular government worker and usually they look to make sure the letter is there but don’t pay too much attention to it. So this is all a bit of a joke anyway.

    The conversion part though is pretty serious…Serious in that it’s a shame that someone may have been wrongly disqualified

  2. Given some of the stories coming out of Eretz Yisroel, it is time for American Orthodoxy to start making lists of Israeli Rabbonim who are not reliable regarding giyur.

  3. If I can’t get an invitation to the Catskills for Shabbos Nachamu and I’m forced to stay in the City, does that make me a total loser?

  4. Better off staying in the city in an air conditioned Beis Medrash with a stack of seforim and no mosquitoes eating you for lunch. You are not a loser but rather a total winner!! Good Shabbos! Olam Hazeh domeh l’prozdor Olam Haba B’trakalin

  5. Considering that so many b’nay-Torah reject “chief rabbinates” as farcical creations and governmental control mechanisms, this whole ruckus is almost surreal.

  6. We ALWAYS stay in the City. I love the peace and quiet. There are parking spots galore. I don’t have to shlep anywhere. I don’t have to sit in traffic like a dog. I don’t have to spend money on gas & tolls. I don’t have to be away from my wife & kids during the week. I come into Shabbos relaxed, B”H. Everyone in Shul seems more relaxed. I don’t have to show-off to other Fathers how great of a Dad/husband I am. Other men don’t have to look at my wife. Etc, etc, etc…….. I do miss the swimming, though.

  7. I was asked by someone in shul today why “women Rabbis” weren’t placed on the blacklist.
    I responded that there is no such thing as a woman Rabbi.

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