Rav Amar: Botei Din Won’t Decide On Questionable Conversions


rabbi-shlomo-amarIsraeli Sefardi Chief Rabbi Rav Shlomo Amar signed over the weekend new measures stipulating that botei din will no longer deliberate misgivings regarding the validity of conversions, and instead will transfer such files to a special panel chosen by Rav Amar himself.

As part of his role as chief rabbi, Rav  Amar serves as president of the Great Rabbinical Court and as the supreme rabbinical authority on the State conversion layout.

The new measures are the fruit of a joint initiative between Rav Amar  and the Justice Ministry in preparation for the High Court hearing on the petition against R’ Avraham Sherman’s conversion nullifications.

Rav  Amar handed down a similar order six months ago after R’ Avraham Sherman nullified another conversion. The chief rabbi ruled then that a special panel would discuss such cases that reach the Great Rabbinical Court as appeals. Now, the measure was expanded to include all legal claims of this sort, including those reaching the regional rabbinical courts. This effectively blocks any option for overturning conversion without consulting the chief rabbi.

It is interesting to note that a rabbinical judge from Ashdod Rabbinical Court was the first to call into question conversions granted by Rabbi Chaim Drukman, which subsequently ignited controversy on the issue.

Rav Amar, who seeks to put an end to the phenomenon of conversion nullifications, is facing significant opposition from within his own court. Significant pressure is being placed on Rav Amar both from within the department of botei din  and outside of it.

R’ Avraham Sherman and his party were  recently joined by the legal advisor to the rabbinical courts, Attorney Rabbi Shimon Yaakobi, who ruled in his legal opinion on the subject that every religious judge has the authority to rule on the validity of a conversion.

Rabbi Yaakobi demanded that the State adopt his position as the High Court’s response to the conversion issue. Estimates indicate that Rav Amar intends to render Rabbi  Yaakobi’s drafted legal decision empty of content via the new measures he signed into force over the weekend rather than take him on directly.

Dr. Aviad Hacohen, dean of Sha’arei Mishpat College who is representing the petitioners against the conversion nullifications, said in response: “This is an important and welcome initial step, and we hope it has a continuation. Indeed, as always, the test will be in the results: preventing illegal or unnecessary wholesale cancellation of conversions, and no less, the recognition of conversions carried out by law at the time of marriage registration.”

{Ynet/Yair Alpert-Matzav.com Israel}


  1. It is the halachic right of any Beis Din to determine whether a purported convert is indeed a valid convert or not.

    The Office of the Chief Rabbi is merely a zionist political office that entails no greater halachic rights than any Beis Din.

    This statement from the Chief Rabbi has no halachic basis or effect, and is in no manner binding on Butei Dinim.

  2. This hurts us in many ways. Especially the geirei tzedek, as this will cause all geirim to be viewed with suspicion about the authenicity of their geirus

  3. Rav Amar is a tzaddik gadol!!! He is one of the leading rabbinical leaders in the world today, with or without his “rishon litzion” title… Rav Amar is not addressing issue in a political fashion, rather on the basis of his true rabbinical expertise that gained his that title in the first place… Unfortunately due to the many political factors of being part of the chief rabinnate many often confuse their rabbinic decisions with their political… I have full faith in a tzaddik like Rav Amar to use proper judgement and analysis of this case!!

  4. Rebbe.

    Clearly if we accept what you say, then Dayan Sherman and others should not be part of the establishment. They should resign immediately. If they do not resign, then they are implicitly accepting Rav Amar as their superior in Dinei Torah and must defer to him.

    Rav Elyashiv used to be part of Heichal Shlomo. He isn’t now. Maybe it’s time for Dayan Sherman et al to do likewise?

    Given the depth of the controversy, having a competent Beis Din Elyon to deal with these issues in a clear and consistent manner must be a good idea.