Bnei Brak rabbi accused of arranging illicit conversions

Amar supporters charge that unnamed rabbi supposedly headed panel in framework of the haredi Beit Din Zedek so the convert could marry a relative of his.

By JONAH MANDEL
January 13, 2011 02:34
2 minute read.
A STREET notice in Bnei Brak slams senior rabbi.

Bnei Brak conversion sign 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The battle of anonymous mudslinging between Lithuanian haredi elements and champions of Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar in the wake of the latest conversion controversy rose a notch on Wednesday, with pashkevilim (street notices) plastered in Bnei Brak charging a local, senior rabbi of converting a woman “for the intent of marriage, which is prohibited according to the Torah’s law.”

The unnamed rabbi supposedly headed a panel in the framework of the haredi Beit Din Zedek so the convert could marry a relative of his. This, according to the unnamed Amar supporters behind Wednesday’s notices, is proof of the hypocrisy of the Ashkenazi haredi camp, which recently slammed the chief Sephardi rabbi for his rumored intention to approve IDF conversions.

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The latest notices were the second phase in a series of pashkevilim responding to earlier notices against Amar – and indirectly also against head of the Shas Council of Torah Sages Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who is backing the chief rabbi in his stated intent to give his signature to the military conversions.

Amar is officially meant to be the final signatory on such conversions, but this formality has been overlooked for several years.

He recently formed a threeman panel to help him examine the IDF process, in what has amounted to a race against Israel Beiteinu’s military conversion bill. The bill, which seeks to separate the army conversions from the rabbinate by providing them an independent legal status, will be brought for a vote in the Knesset Law Committee next week.

Sources close to Amar assert that the chief rabbi will indeed give his approval to the IDF conversions, a move that will take the sting out of the impending bill and most likely keep the coalition from supporting it. Such a move would be much to the relief of Shas, which, like Amar, strongly spoke out against the notion of a conversion authority independent of the Chief Rabbinate.



As rumors of Amar’s inclination hit the haredi street some 10 days ago, harsh pashkevilim accusing the chief rabbi of nothing less than heresy materialized, signed by “the committee for the battle against assimilation headed by the leading rabbis.”

The Amar defenders swiftly hit back, slamming “the Lithuanian rabbis who convert gentile women for money” (who were supposedly behind the notices) and promised a scandalous exposé in the near future.

That arrived on Wednesday. Under a huge headline screaming, “Disgrace – organized crime,” the latest notices told the tale of a Filipino woman who was converted by the senior rabbi’s court so she could marry his widowed relative.

The Jerusalem Post learned the identity of the rabbi in question, but he refused to speak with the media.

The pashkevilim promised further revelations about the “conversion industry” allegedly run by the stringent Ashkenazi rabbinic court.

“The public will see and judge,” the notice ends.


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