Riskin’s Rogue Israeli Conversion Court Racks Up New Jews


shlomo riskinMichael Mostovski was born in the former Soviet Union to a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother. He underwent a conversion to Judaism through an independent Orthodox religious court in Israel last month. The court is unrecognized by the Israeli chief rabbinate, which means that for the State of Israel, nothing has changed in the status of Mostovski, his wife Masha — also born to a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother — and their three daughters, who were all also converted in the Efrat beit din.

Joining the Mostovskis earlier this month were another four children and five adult converts who underwent an independent conversion through the Efrat bais din under the auspices of Rabbi Shlomo Riskin. To date, some 80 converts have elected to become members of the Jewish People through these new independent courts, which are brought together through a coordinating body calling itself “Giyur Kahalacha” (conversion according to halacha).

Founded by Modern Orthodox rabbis — Efrat’s Riskin, Rabbi Nachum Rabinovitch from Ma’ale Adumim, Rabbi Haim Amsalem, Otniel’s Rabbi Re’em HaCohen, Rabbi Shaul (Seth) Farber and head of the Tzohar rabbinical movement Rabbi David Stav — the Giyur Kahalacha movement has a goal of making 1,000 converts, a large number of them children, in its first year of operations; it went live in August.

The Giyur Kahalacha movement opens up a number of deeper questions. Among them: Who will marry — and perform the marriage ceremonies of — this new mass of non-officially recognized Jews?

Allowing a small glimpse of one possible path in the movement’s long-term strategy, Ish-Shalom hypothesized that if Riskin and Stav, for example, who are also officially recognized regional rabbis of the Israeli rabbinate, were to register such a convert couple for Jewish marriage, then they would have to be recognized by the State of Israel.

“Part of the process [of registering a couple] requires determining if the couple is Jewish. I have the right to make this determination,” said Riskin, who added that until about 13 years ago, he also had the rabbinate’s authority to perform conversions as a local rabbi.

The focus of Giyur Kahalacha is on FSU immigrants and their children. But when asked by The Times of Israel, Riskin said he would include in this model of expedited conversions Reform and Conservative Jews who were raised Jewish and made aliyah to Israel, but are not considered halachic Jews by the chief rabbinate.

Currently in Israel there is a trend among many liberal-minded Orthodox couples to bypass the rabbinate and marry in illegal, unauthorized wedding ceremonies.

On the question of marriage between two of the Giyur Kahalacha converts, one knowledgeable religious rights activist told The Times of Israel that it would likely not be illegal to perform the wedding because neither would be recognized as Jewish by the rabbinate, and therefore not eligible for a state marriage.

Stav flew to the US last week to explain the Giyur Kahalacha initiative and garner support for it.

Read more at Times of Israel.



  1. 1)Can anyone please point to the sugiya which states that approval by chief Rabbinate is required for Giyur? right

    2)the Satmar Beis Din is not recognized bythe Chief Rabbis either, nor does it want or require recognition. If their conversions are valid, then so are the ones done by this Beis Din, which is made up of Talmidei Chachamim, even if some disagree with some of their approach.

  2. rOGUE. Fallacious. Fallacy. Joke. Shameful.

    It’s all of the above.

    This from a man who called Yoshke his rabbi. This guy has long been way off the plantation.

  3. A rabbi who calls Yushka his rebbi is not a rabbi.
    As far as I know this beis din is not makpid on kabbolas hamitzvos as one of the criteria of giyur.

  4. #1: The problem is that it’s not that “some disagree with their approach,” it’s that halachah disagrees with their approach. And one doesn’t have to be a baki in halachah to figure that out. The very fact that they have a “goal” of converting 1000 people within a year means that they are seriously off-target. We are not supposed to have a goal of converting anyone. Judaism is not and has never been a proselytizing religion.

    But Riskin is going even further than that by saying explicitly that he would “expedite” conversions for Reform and Conservative people who were raised Jewish. In other words, he is saying that he considers the children of a Jewish man and a Reform/Conservative “converted” non-Jewish woman (or two such converts, it doesn’t matter)to BE JEWISH because they were raised as Jews. That puts him way beyond the pale of “some disagree with some of their approach.”

    If we don’t raise purgatory over this here in EY, we are going to find ourselves in deep trouble down the line. And if we can’t do it for ourselves, we should at least do it for these poor people who are being knowingly set up for potentially heartbreaking situations when their children grow up. Shame on Riskin and the rest, not only for flaunting halachah but for playing with people’s lives in such a (perhaps unintentionally) heartless manner.

  5. #1
    An actual, legal beis din, rather than those unqualified as dayanim but accepted voluntarily as arbitrators to render a decision, is required for geirus (conversion – v. Yevamos 46b, Rambam Hil. Issurei Bi’ah 13:6 and Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 268:3-4) and may be necessary for certain aspects of geirushin (divorce). This is why geirus must occur by day, as a beis din, unlike arbitrators, may not convene at night. R. Riskin’s program that provides women with rabbinic training and ordination, granting “the centuries-old traditional license to issue halakhic rulings” and “equipping them with the knowledge base to serve as judges for conversion and divorce”, is illegitimately predicated on an assertion that has no bearing on the matter. Those who do not qualify to form an halachic beis din do not attain the status of an halachic beis din for conversion, divorce and other other proceedings, regardless of voluntary acceptance by the parties. Arbitration and beis din status are apples and oranges; R. Riskn’s calculation does not compute.

    Rav Yaakov kaminetzky told someone better a good goy then a bad jew,

  6. June 17, 2013 ,
    “Rav Kook spoke of the fact that if Rav Kook ZT”L could ever imagine a day when the Rabbanut could reach a level, a level that some get up and announce one does not need kabolas mitzvos to convert to Judaism, adding such a person denies Har Sinai…”

  7. #1 Indeed,Any rabbanut conversion starts out with a chazaka of it being weak , especially considering the fiasco of farce conversions and false signing if so-called conversions that never occurred and others of open mechalleli shabbosim gentiles being declared Jewish to fit zionisms political goals after they imported hundreds of thousands of Soviet gentiles. BUT Now Riskin is trying to worsen it.

  8. טרעבגיק שליט”א הגאב-ד האדיאץ.
    במה שמתפק כתר”ה אם גר שלא קבל עליו מצות
    אם נחשב גר, פשוט וברור שאיע גר כלל אף בדיעבד
    וכן הורה אבא מארי הגאון זצלה”ה הלכה למעשה
    בסטראבין בשבדא כזו שאיע גר כלל בין לקולא בין
    לחומרא שקבלת מצות בגר מעכב כדאיתא ביו”ד סי’
    רס”ח סעי’ ג’. ואף אם אמר בפיו שמקבל מצות אם
    אגן טהדי שאיגו מקבל עליו באמת אינו כלום. וגר
    שמהני לשם אישות בדיעבד, יירי שבשביל האישות
    קבל עליו מצ,ת באמת והוא ברור ופשוט וכל זה אמר
    אבא מארי הגאון בפירוש אז כשהורה. ובכלל איני יודע טעם הדבנים הטועים בזה דאף לדידהו עכ”פ
    איזה תועלת הם מביאין בזה לכלל ‘שראל שמקבלין
    גרים כאלו דודאי לא ניחא ליה להקב”ה ולעם ישדאל
    שיתערבו גרי 6 כאלו בישראל. ולדיגא פשוט שאין זה
    גר כלל.
    משה פיינשטיין