Conversion Authority to appoint ten new rabbinic judges

Some sources say there is no need for new judges; others see it as a necessity.

By MATTHEW WAGNER
September 4, 2006 22:56
2 minute read.
Conversion Authority to appoint ten new rabbinic judges

amar 298.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Rabbi Haim Druckman, Head of the Conversions Authority, began accepting applications last week for ten new rabbinic judge positions for the conversion courts. However, sources familiar with the inner workings of the Conversion Authority said that there was no need for new judges. "I do not see any need for additional judges," said Rabbi Israel Rosen, a veteran conversion judge. "Even the existing judges don't have anything to do," said another judge who preferred to remain anonymous. However, Rabbi Moshe Klein said that over the years the number of judges had fallen from 35 to 25. He also said that the new appointments would serve specific segments of the Israeli population. "One of the panels will serve the haredi community," said Klein. Sources said Klein was referring to plans to appoint a panel led by Rabbi Nachum Eisenstein, who is close to Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the most respected halachic authority among Lithuanian haredi Jewry. Rosen reckoned that the authority was interested in bringing in Eisenstein to strengthen the ties with the haredi community and reduce haredi criticism on the authority. "That would be a worthy end," said Rosen, who once headed the Conversion Court. None of the new judges are Russian speakers, said Klein, who added that the appointments have been planned for two years. There is a real need for Russian-speaking judges, said sources in the authority, since the authority's target population is the approximately 280,000 non-Jewish immigrants from the Former Soviet Union, all of whom are Russian speakers. One judge admitted that in many cases the language barrier was a major obstacle in determining the sincerity of the potential converts. "A translator is not enough," he said. A senior source estimated that the appointments were designed to put pressure on the existing judges to produce more converts by being more lenient in their acceptance criteria. He also estimated that the judges who were chosen would have ties to either Druckman or Amar. However, Klein rejected the claim. "Anyone who thinks Rabbi Amar or Rabbi Druckman would compromise halacha is totally wacko and needs immediate psychiatric care," said Klein. Ads calling on candidates to send in their applications were printed in the religious Zionist Hatzofeh, in the Lithuanian Yated Ne'eman and the Shas mouthpiece Yom Le'yom. The monthly salary of conversion judges ranges between NIS 7,000 for one day of work a week to NIS 35,000 for a full-time position. Druckman and Amar appointed a "locating council" which would be responsible for narrowing down the number of candidates. From this group, Druckman and Amar will choose the ten new judges. As a result, Amar and Druckman could make the appointments independent of any outside supervision. Dr Aviad Hacohen, Dean of Sha'arei Mishpat, a private college of law, said that "formally speaking the appointment process was legal." Therefore, Druckman and Amar were not required to publish a tender with transparent criteria. "However, since the judges will have an influence on so many citizens' lives, the process needs to be open and transparent and not be done in a secretive way behind closed doors." Hacohen pointed out that the Conversion Authority was not governed by legislation - rather, it was created out of a series of administrative rules. Therefore, it had more legal leeway than other state bodies.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

Joan Rivers
August 28, 2014
Joan Rivers rushed to hospital following throat surgery

By JPOST.COM STAFF