Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar defended on Monday his decision to approve the military conversions which are undertaken according to orthodox Jewish law. His reaction came in the wake of claims from parts of the Ashkenazi-haredi camp that such conversions should not be considered valid, since the process the candidates underwent was faulty and the converts never really intended on maintaining a Jewish lifestyle, as evident in the fact that many of them do not keep mitzvot in the years that follow.
In a letter apparently intended to senior Ashkenazi haredi rabbis, Amar noted the general guidelines of conversions – the necessity that the convert be circumcised, immersed in a ritual bath, face a qualified three-man panel of rabbinic judges and “take upon himself the mitzvot of the Torah,” all of which are conditions that can prevent or even retroactively annul a conversion. The chief rabbi then proceeded to make the distinction between those who never really accepted “Torah and mitzvot at the time of [their] conversion,” and are not considered converts. On the other hand, converts who had the right intent at the time of their process, but did not remain observant afterward are Jewish and must be married and divorced accordingly, he wrote.