Chief rabbi David Lau.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Chief Rabbi David Lau responded sharply on Tuesday to a letter issued by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Labor chairman Isaac Herzog regarding the uproar over the rejection by the Petah Tikava rabbinical court of a convert who converted through Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, a prominent US rabbi.
Edelstein and Herzog said that the rejection of his convert was a grave injustice and called on Chief Rabbis David Lau and 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
In a return letter on Tuesday, Lau pointed out that the chief rabbinate had specifically informed the Petah Tikva rabbinical court before it made its decision that Lookstein’s converts were approved by the chief rabbinate.
Lau’s office also 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, and said that they had sent their missive to the wrong address and that they should speak to the instead of the chief rabbinate.
The decision has been appealed to the Supreme Rabbinical Court and a hearing is scheduled for tomorrow morning. Both Lau and Yosef serve, through their positions as chief rabbis, as rabbinical judges on the Supreme Rabbinical Court although they will not be on the panel ruling on the appeal.
In the original ruling, despite receiving the chief rabbinate’s decision approving Lookstein’s conversion, the Petah Tikva rabbinical court asked for a second opinion from the head of the State Conversion Authority Rabbi Rafi 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, and caused consternation in the ranks of US Jewry and other critics of the religious establishment in Israel.
A rally is being held to demonstrate against the ruling on Wednesday morning outside the offices of the chief rabbinate.
Sources in the chief rabbinate said it was highly likely that the lower court’s decision will be overturned by the Supreme Rabbinical Court on Wednesday.