rabbi amar torah 311.
(photo credit: AP)
Meeting the Knesset’s State Control Committee deadline, Chief Sephardi Rabbi
Shlomo Amar issued a letter on Thursday stating that military conversions are in
keeping with the Chief Rabbinate and, hence, halachically valid.
many years the chief military rabbis acted to convert IDF soldiers in the army’s
conversion courts,” the letter read. “The chief military rabbis acted in full
cooperation with the chief rabbis of Israel, in all matters pertaining to
religion and state. Soldiers who converted in these conversion courts, were also
wed in keeping with the Halacha for many years by marriage registrars, in
accordance with all religious standards.”
The committee’s demand for this
public clarification came after a stormy Monday meeting to discuss what was
initially perceived to be the State Attorney’s Office declaring that military
conversions were halachically invalid, after last week attorney Yochi Gnessin
told the High Court of Justice that there was “a problem” with the army
This occurred during a hearing on a petition by Itim – The
Jewish Life Information Center – against the Chief Rabbinate and four city
rabbis who in their capacity as marriage registrars do not recognize the
validity of conversions.
Gnessin, who attended the committee meeting,
stressed that she had not spoken of the halachic aspects of
The committee, headed by MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima), then gave
all the relevant authorities the deadline of Yom Kippur in order to “clear the
mist” over the question of the validity of the IDF conversions by issuing a
public statement and thereby relieve the 4,584 converts who underwent the IDF
process since 2001 from the religious limbo they were cast into, before the
holiest day on the Jewish calendar.
Amar’s announcement also noted that
the chief rabbi will raise the topic before the Chief Rabbinical Council, and is
working in coordination with the Justice Ministry to regulate all necessary
The chief rabbi’s office used the opportunity to
“call upon the prime minister and the members of the Knesset to act immediately
to legislate a conversion law in Israel, in face of the great importance of
regulating this issue, to prevent mishaps and anguish to the converts, soldiers
Amar had been one of the most enthusiastic advocates of
Israel Beiteinu MK David Rotem’s Conversion Bill, which did not pass in the
previous Knesset session.
Hasson praised Amar and all the other parties
involved, including Gnessin and members of the Military Rabbinate, “for their
swift treatment of the military conversion issue, in accordance with the time
limit set by the Knesset’s committee.
“Thanks to the committee’s
involvement,” Hasson continued, “thousands of soldiers who underwent military
conversions will be able to enter synagogues this Yom Kippur with the rest of
Israel, tranquil and certain of the validity of their Judaism.”
Seth Farber, who as head of Itim filed the petition that triggered the
maelstrom, was less enthusiastic.
“We are pleased that, ahead of Yom
Kippur, the chief rabbi is also taking action for the IDF converts and
clarifying to whoever still might have doubts that the military conversions
[that took place over the years] are valid in every matter and
“At the same time,” Farber continued, “the chief rabbi is
refraining from affirming that the military conversions are taking place
too, under the Chief Rabbinate’s supervision, and therefore an
unambiguous announcement is still needed.
“We hope the Chief Rabbinical
Council and its subordinate rabbis will act according to this
we will not encounter any further instances in which [stateemployed
not recognize the state’s conversions.”