Thousands of conversions could be discredited

Court says all conversions made under Conversion Authority head Drukman since '99 must be revoked.

haim drukman 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
haim drukman 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Jewishness of thousands of converts was cast in doubt after the High Rabbinical Court of Israel severely censured the head of the country's Conversion Authority for performing conversion in a non-kosher way. In a decision that was published last week, the three-man panel of rabbinic judges upheld a ruling from an Ashdod Rabbinic Court that retroactively annulled the conversion of a woman performed by Rabbi Haim Druckman, head of the Conversion Authority, 15 years ago. The decision to annul the woman's conversion was made after it became known that she never adhered to Orthodox Jewish practice after her conversion. As a result, the Jewish status of the woman's four children was annulled. In addition, the woman's husband, who is Jewish according to Halacha, was questioned. Along with its decision to uphold the Ashdod court's decision, the judges also cast doubt on the validity of all conversions conducted by Druckman since 1999. Over the years Druckman has personally converted hundreds, perhaps thousands and in his capacity as head of the Conversion Authority he has overseen thousands more. "If this decision is upheld it will destroy the Conversion Authority," said Rabbi Moshe Klein, Druckman's deputy. "And if it is not upheld, it will undermine the good name of the High Rabbinical Court. Either way it is a disaster." One Conversion Court judge said in response that it was still too early to determine the ramifications of the decision. "We have to wait and see how the rabbinic community reacts to the decision," said the judge. "It could be that tomorrow marriage registrars will stop registering converts who went through Rabbi Druckman's courts. Some might even refrain from recognizing all conversions done by the Authority." Druckman said the ruling was "cruel" and was made without consulting Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar, the president of the High Rabbinical Court. According to Jewish law, a conversion must be performed under the supervision of a kosher rabbinic court. If the court is deemed to be performing conversions against the strictures of Halacha or if one of the judges is deemed to be dishonest, the conversion is not considered legitimate.