Lookstein’s conversions are valid, says Lau

The decision has been appealed to the Supreme Rabbinical Court, and a hearing is scheduled for Wednesday morning.

July 6, 2016 01:46
1 minute read.
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THE JERUSALEM conversion office of the Chief Rabbinate – once the majority of Israeli citizens no longer connect to the Jewish nature of Israel, we will be left with a soulless country that is constantly fighting for its very existence.. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Chief Rabbi David Lau responded sharply to the uproar over the rejection by a local rabbinical court of a convert who was converted by Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, a prominent US rabbi, saying the Chief Rabbinate had specifically informed the Petah Tikva court before it made its decision that Lookstein’s conversions were approved by the Chief Rabbinate.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Labor chairman Isaac Herzog had issued a letter saying the rejection of one of Lookstein’s converts – a woman seeking to get married – was a grave injustice, and called on Lau and Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef to reverse the decision, adding that they were willing to appear in front of the Council of the Chief Rabbinate to discuss the issue.

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In a return letter on Tuesday, Lau released the document sent by the Chief Rabbinate’s Department for Marriage and Conversion to the Petah Tikva rabbinical court dated April 19, in which it informed the court of its position.

The chief rabbi told Edelstein and Herzog that he did not know why the Petah Tikva rabbinical court had rejected Lookstein’s conversion, that they had sent their missive to the wrong address, and that they should speak to the Petah Tikva court instead of the Chief Rabbinate.

The decision has been appealed to the Supreme Rabbinical Court, and a hearing is scheduled for Wednesday morning. Both Lau and Yosef – through their positions as chief rabbis – serve as rabbinical judges on the Supreme Rabbinical Court, although they will not be on the panel ruling on the appeal.

Despite receiving the Chief Rabbinate’s decision approving Lookstein’s conversion, the Petah Tikva rabbinical court had asked for a second opinion from the head of the State Conversion Authority, Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz, who said he had not come across converts through Lookstein and therefore said the court should not recognize the conversion.

The decision generated international headlines, as Lookstein has also converted Ivanka Trump, daughter of US presidential candidate Donald Trump.

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