UTJ won't join gov't that does 'wholesale conversions'

Rabbi Elyashiv opposes Likud-Israel Beiteinu coalition agreement, which would empower city rabbis to perform conversions.

By MATTHEW WAGNER
March 23, 2009 23:10
1 minute read.
UTJ won't join gov't that does 'wholesale conversions'

rabbi elyashiv 248 88. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the preeminent halachic authority for the Lithuanian haredi community, announced Monday that United Torah Judaism's five MKs would not join a government that performs "wholesale conversions," according to a UTJ source. During a meeting with UTJ MKs at his home in Jerusalem, Elyashiv said the party could not join the government under the present coalition agreement between the Likud and Israel Beiteinu, which would empower city rabbis to perform conversions. "Uri Maklev relayed this message to the Likud during a meeting today," said Maklev's spokesman. In the coalition agreement between Israel Beiteinu and the Likud, there is a clause which calls for a change in legislation that would permit city rabbis to perform conversions. The aim of the amendment is to make it easier to convert to Judaism by increasing the pool of rabbis who are permitted to perform conversions. MKs of the Sephardi haredi Shas party have already agreed in principle to the conversion reform. Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, who is responsible for all conversions performed by the Chief Rabbinate, agreed to allow city rabbis to perform conversions. The final approval of the coalition agreement awaits Shas's Council of Sages. A senior rabbinic figure and critic of the conversion reforms who is close to Elyashiv told The Jerusalem Post last week that past experiences have shown that allowing city rabbis to perform conversions tends to lead to bribery. "A local rabbi is liable to be exposed to all sorts of economic pressures from residents of his town," said the source. In the past, city rabbis were allowed to perform conversions, and there were several cases in which rabbis were convicted of accepting bribes to perform conversions.


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