Thursday, May 04, 2006

Israeli Chief Rabbinate vs RCA

Jewishweek: In what appears to be a direct challenge to the legitimacy of the largest branch of Orthodox Jewry in America, the Chief Rabbinate in Israel is refusing to accept conversions performed by several leading Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) rabbis here, The Jewish Week has learned.For instance, although the name of Gedaliah Dov Schwartz, chairman of the Beth Din of America, is on a list of American rabbis whose conversions are approved by the Chief Rabbinate, his signature on an authorized document is no longer accepted unless he personally performed the conversion.“We need to ensure the highest standards,” explained Rabbi Yigal Krispel, deputy to Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar. “Rabbi Schwartz sits in Chicago, while the conversions are performed elsewhere.” The Beth Din of America is closely associated with the Rabbinical Council of America, a branch of the Orthodox Union, the largest Orthodox organization in the world.Rabbi Krispel insisted “there has been no change in policy” that only a rabbi recognized by the Chief Rabbinate could perform conversions. The difference is that since Rabbi Amar assumed his position in 2003, he said, “we have been operating according to a list of approved rabbis.” The list, obtained by The Jewish Week, has fewer than 50 names on it, including some rabbis who are deceased.“A member of the RCA is not automatically recognized,” Rabbi Krispel said.This news comes as a surprise to the leaders of the RCA and the Orthodox Union. “I don’t know anything about it,” said Rabbi Schwartz, who added that the Chief Rabbinate “can’t just bypass the rabbis who are its biggest supporters.
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