Rav Metzger: Israeli Conversion Certificates Valid for Marriage

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rabbi-metzgerIn an unusual departure from the accepted chareidi stance, Israel’s Ashkenazi chief rabbi Rav Yonah Metzger has declared that anyone holding a conversion certificate issued by the State of Israel can register to be married in his place of residence. Rav Metzger’s declaration, contained in a letter to the Knesset’s Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, comes on the heels of converts’ complaints that local rabbonim were – rightfully – refusing to recognize them as Jews according to halacha and to register them for marriage.

In recent weeks, the organization ITIM (The Jewish Life Information Center), which represents conversion candidates in their dealings with the authorities, prepared to file a petition to the High Court of Justice on the matter.

In response to the complaints, Rav Metzger said that in instances in which rabbonim refuse to register converts to be married, he would “authorize a substitute marriage registrar that would carry out what the law requires.”

This is the latest development in a controversy which surfaced about a year and a half ago, after rabbonim in official positions announced there was no validity under halacha regarding conversions performed through religious conversion courts. Rav Avraham Sherman, who is a judge on the Rabbinical High Court, ruled that thousands of conversions performed by the special religious conversion court (under official state sponsorship) were invalid.

The conversion court, which is identified with the national-religious camp, continues to issue conversion certificates, but in practice an increasing number of chareidi rabbonim are not recognizing them. The matter frequently comes to a head when the converts seek to register with their local rabbinical councils ahead of their weddings and are told that their conversion process was invalid, even if the converts observe Orthodox-religious tradition.

In June, Rav Metzger participated in an international conference held in Yerushalayim for rabbonim  opposed to the state conversion system, where he heaped praise on Rav Sherman, calling him a “man of truth.” Later, however, Rav Metzger said that his words should not have been interpreted as him taking a position on the issue.

A source in Rav Metzger’s office said that although the plans to file a petition with the High Court were known at the time that Rav Metzger wrote his letter to the Knesset committee, the chief rabbi was “determined to find a solution to the converts’ problem.”

{Haaretz/Yair Alpert-Matzav.com Israel}

14 COMMENTS

  1. “The matter frequently comes to a head when the converts seek to register with their local rabbinical councils ahead of their weddings and are told that their conversion process was invalid, even if the converts observe Orthodox-religious tradition.”

    If the converts are observant and the rabbi refuses to recognize the conversion, it is issur d’oraisa of hurting the ger.

  2. How’s the conversion invalid if the convert was converted by a Beis Din and keeps and orthodox life style, like the article says in my post in #2.

  3. What is so surprising with the “Chief Rabbi’s” statement? He is a Zionist leader. Since when is he expected to follow halacha?

  4. To # 6,

    Keeping an Orthodox lifestyle doesn’t retroactively validate an improper conversion, if you feel there is no problem then, take it up with the Rabbonim that are rejecting them. (I assume you are thoroughly well-versed in the relevant laws)

  5. then what invalidates it in this case? First it was the fact that these converts never had any intention of keeping mitzvos, now we find out these rabbis invalidate even thuogh they are keeping mitzvos. Well if anybody can retroactively invalidate anything, we’ve got a big problem.
    P.S. I am a Ger and my geirus was though a very respected BEis Din, I’ve living as a frum Yid for over 20 years, with boruch HAshem frum children. If some Rabbi decide he could now invalidate my conversion for whatever reason he sees fit, that in my opinion would be a violation of an issur D’oraisa, as one is not even allowed to remind me that I am a ger, much less to publicize that in his opinion I am a goy. Put yourself in my shoes and think about how you would feel. But in truth no one really seems to care.

  6. Why are you so sure that your Bais Din is among those that are being disqualified? If so, have you inquired as to the reason that may be so?

  7. If there was no intent to keep all 613 at the time of the conversion, there never was a valid conversion and the person was never Jewish.

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