rabbi amar torah 311.
(photo credit: AP)
Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar announced on Thursday the formation of a
committee to advise him on IDF conversions, in hopes of preventing the passing
of Israel Beiteinu’s bill to grant such conversions independence from the Chief
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Heading the committee is Rabbi Nissim Ben-Shimon, head of the
Tel Aviv Rabbinic Courts, who is joined by member of the Chief Rabbinate Council
Rabbi Shimon Elituv and Rabbi Aharon Dershowitz, a rabbinic judge from
The committee’s work will be overseen by Rabbi Raffi Dayan,
who is in charge of issuing certificates in the Chief Rabbinate.
spokesman for Amar said the committee hoped to complete its work within a month,
and was to focus on the technical aspects of the military process, as well as
the interface between the IDF and civil conversion mechanisms.
already formed a similar committee months ago, but its members resigned before
it actually began its work. This time around, sources in the know said, Amar has
selected members who are respected rabbis and, no less importantly, not likely
to be susceptible to pressure from the Ashkenazi haredi Lithuanian rabbis, who
oppose the military conversions as being too lax.
Ben-Shimon is also the
rabbi who recently reapproved a conversion that was nullified by a member of the
High Rabbinical Court, Rabbi Avraham Sherman, who is considered one of the main
proponents of the Lithuanian position in the Chief Rabbinate.
As Amar is
the head of the country’s rabbinic courts, his signature is needed on military
conversion certificates, a technicality that was overlooked for years and
surfaced during a court hearing a few months ago. When asked to provide his name
for the documents, Amar said he needed to examine the IDF conversion process
before doing so.
If Amar declares the technical and other aspects of the
military conversions kosher, there is room to believe that the Israel Beiteinu
bill, seeking to protect the army conversions from the Chief Rabbinate, would be
The current bill, sponsored by Israel Beiteinu faction
chairman Robert Ilatov and MK David Rotem, passed its preliminary reading by a
vote of 74-18 on Wednesday, after both coalition and opposition lawmakers
streamed into the plenum to vote on the legislation.
Rotem had, in recent
days, expressed his bewilderment as to why Amar had not taken care of the
problem by signing the certificates months ago, and stressed that the military
conversions were fully kosher and needed no examination committee.
is against the bill, which they say is a breach of the coalition agreement, but
according to party head Interior Minister Eli Yishai, Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu told him the bill would not become law without his
Also objecting to the notion of separating the military
conversions from civilian ones are IDF Chief Rabbi Brig.-Gen. Rafi Peretz and
head of the State Conversion Authority Rabbi Haim Druckman, both of whom believe
it is not in the best interests of the converts to create “two classes” of