State Prosecution to court: IDF conversions are invalid

Yochi Gnessin says during hearing held over petition to overturn annulment there was "problem" with army conversions.

Haredi Soldiers 311 (photo credit: YAAKOV KATZ)
Haredi Soldiers 311
(photo credit: YAAKOV KATZ)
Conversions carried out by national religious rabbis in the Israel Defense Forces are invalid unless authorized by the haredi-dominated Chief Rabbinate, State Prosecution told the Supreme Court Monday.
During a hearing held over a petition to overturn the annulment of conversions carried out by national religious rabbis, State Prosecutor Yochi Gnessin was quoted by Army Radio as saying that there was "a problem" with the army conversions.
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"You're saying that all IDF conversions are invalid," The President of the Supreme Court Dorit Beinisch asked Gnessin in response.
The petition was filed by Itim, the Jewish Life Information Center, which asked to rescind a decision by haredi rabbi Avraham Sherman which invalidated conversions carried out by national religious rabbi Haim Druckman.
Maj. Gen. (Reserves) Elazar Stern, a prominent member of the national religious movement and supporter of Itim's petition, told the Jerusalem Post the situation was unacceptable.
"It's a sad day they that we see the sad face of the country trying to avoid a simple question: How is it that rabbis working for the state are being paid to invalidate conversions of other rabbis in the IDF?" he said. "The notion that they can annul conversions and keep people in limbo, who gave them that right? They're playing with people who are defending the country. If there's no other choice there will be two separate religious systems. It's a shame the State of Israel has given the keys to a group of people that many of which don't even recognize its existence."
Stern called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to intervene on behalf of those who underwent conversions by IDF rabbis. He added that would-be converts rejected by the Chief Rabbinate were invited to come to national religious synagogues over the high holidays.