Rav Nachum Eisenstein Questions Rav Metzger’s Geirus Policy


rav-nachum-eisensteinVarious rabbonim have prepared a letter to send to Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Rav Yona Metzger demanding that he “clarify” his stance on city rabbonim who refuse to recognize conversions performed by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.

“We want nothing less than a written statement from the chief rabbi detailing his position regarding conversions that a city rov deems to be invalid because the convert did not embrace an Orthodox lifestyle,” said Rav Nachum Eisenstein, confidante of Maran Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and rov in Maalot Dafna in Yerushalayim.

“The chief rabbi needs to clarify that in no way was the letter [sent to the Knesset Immigration and Absorption committee] meant to convey a message that contradicts halacha.”

Last week, Rav Metzger wrote in a letter to the Knesset committee that if a city rov refuses to register a couple for marriage because of his refusal to recognize a conversion performed by the Chief Rabbinate, an alternative registrar would be provided.

Rav Metzger’s letter marked the first time that either of the chief rabbis promised to provide a solution for dozens of geirim to Yiddishkeit from the former Soviet Union who are unable to marry in Israel because their local rov refuses to recognize their geirus.

The letter comes after the Chief Rabbinate’s legal adviser Shimon Ulman told the Knesset Absorption Committee that legal action would be taken against rabbonim who refused to recognize the conversions.

Ulman argued that city rabbonim , who are appointed and derive their authority from the Chief Rabbinate, were obligated by law to respect the decisions of the Chief Rabbinate.

In the wake of Ulman’s comments, ITIM, The Jewish Life Information Center, prepared to file a petition to the High Court against the rabbonim.

Rabbi Shaul Farber, head of ITIM, said that he hoped he would not have to go to the High Court to petition against the rabbinate.

“We should support rabbonim’s opinions against intermarriage,” said Farber. “But once a person converts to Judaism in a rabbinical court, he or she is Jewish. It is inconceivable that one rabbi can unilaterally decide that a person who went through the entire conversion process is not Jewish.”

Farber called Rav Metzger’s letter a “positive step.”

However,Rav letter aroused the opposition of rabbonim who claim that large percentages of those converted by the National Conversion Authority, which works under the aegis of Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar, are not Jewish because they did not embrace a frum lifestyle after their conversion.

Rav Gedaliah Axelrod, a former head of the Haifa Bais Din, who is working together with Rav Eisenstein, wrote a letter addressed to the chief rabbis of Israel calling to fire Ulman for trying to interfere in religious matters.

“We call to express support for rabbonim in Israel who are steadfast in their refusal to marry a gentile with a Jew,” wrote Rav Axelrod.

“If a rov does not have the power to protect his faith in his refusal to marry a gentile with a Jew, it would be better to permit civil marriages.”

There have been numerous cases in which city rabbonim, who are responsible for registering the residents of their city for marriage, have refused to recognize conversions performed by the Conversion Authority or by rabbinic courts in the IDF that convert soldiers as part of the Nativ program.

Both bodies convert under the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate.

This summer, Rishon LeZion Chief Rabbi Yehuda David Wolpe refused to issue a marriage license for a couple living in his city because he deemed the kallah‘s conversion was to be invalid, since, he believed, the woman was not living a chareidi life.

Rav Wolpe made a similar ruling regarding a young man who converted in the IDF.

Ashkelon Chief Rabbi Rav Chaim Blau also refused to marry a couple after the local rabbinical court verified the kallah‘s conversion.

The rabbonim of Rechovot, Beer Sheva, Ma’aleh Adumim, and other cities do not automatically honor conversion certificates issued by the Chief Rabbinate, but perform further investigations.

About 2,000 non-Jews from the FSU who immigrated to Israel under the Law of Return are converted every year. The State of Israel sees the conversion of these non-Jews as a national goal, saying it fosters unity and prevents intermarriage.

Rabbonim in our communities are opposed to any attempts to encourage mass conversions and are concerned regarding the validity and sincerity of the conversions.

In a halachic decision that received extensive media exposure when it was published over a year ago, Rabbi Avraham Sherman, a member of the Supreme Rabbinical Court, cast doubt on the validity of thousands of conversions performed by the Conversion Authority and the rabbinical courts in the IDF.

{Yair Alpert-Matzav.com Israel/JPost}


  1. Oy vey; this is a real big mess. This process that the israeli government is doing so there shouldn’t be intermarriages is going to do the exact opposite;it will cause intermarriages of unsuspecting non religious Jews (who depend on the state rabbonute )to people who on cerimony “converted” to become a Jew in name only on their teudat zehut(israeli identity card).What a mess!!!

  2. Who really cares what the Rabbinate approves or does not approve,
    in my ever to be humble opinion nothing they do is VALID if its not accoridng to Halacha

    also how come the Chassidic Movement never has this problem, i have to assume that by them this is a non issue at all. as the WORD RABBINATE automatically invalidates anything they do, so maybe its time to follow them in this respect & consider NULL & VOID anything that is done thru the Rabbinate, as the Late Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum said, Quote, anything that is done thru a body that has been appointed by the secular goverenment of the state of Israel is NULL VOID, end quote
    that includes the Rabbinate, wether its Hecsherim, SIddur Kiddushin, Gitin, or for that matter Conversions. is null & void, so why are the LITFIKS always so concerned is beyond my comprehension. as they have the same status,as the Reform or Concervative Movemenet.

  3. A valid request and done with respect rather than the typical RALLIES, DEMOS and POSTERS demeaning the person.

    , “Quote, anything that is done thru a body that has been appointed by the secular goverenment of the state of Israel is NULL VOID,” Does that include Health Ministry, Ministry of Construction, Banking, etc. It is always the easy way out to BAN, BAN, and BAN rather than determine the halachic legalities.

  4. The gemara says all those who convert for an ulterior motive, or who may not have kept the mitzvos completely, are geirim bdieved. Hilchesa, kulam geirim heim.

    See Reb Moshe’s Tshuvos.