Senior rabbis from the Lithuanian ultra-Orthodox community released a "Torah opinion and protest" against the IDF conversion track, while expressing support for marriage registrars who do not recognize former soldiers as Jews.
A notice issued Tuesday morning in haredi newspapers Yated Neeman and HaMevaser following the public and legal debate surrounding the legal and halachic validity of these conversions, claimed this was a way of "approving goys (gentiles) as Jews." The rabbis called on all those who can to protest and prevent such conversions.
The signatories are among the communities' most well-known leaders – senior halachic authorities and Lithuanian yeshiva heads. Prominent names include Rabbi Shalom Elyashiv, Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman, Rabbi Nissim Karelitz and Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach.
This was a coordinated attack from these leaders, aimed mainly at Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar. Last month the chief rabbi issued a notice in which he referred positively to IDF conversions, and was immediately singled out by the Lithuanian community.
The chief rabbi's notice was issued after the State's representative said during a High Court debate that IDF conversion officials had no authority and that the conversions were not approved by the Chief Rabbinate. In his response, Amar surveyed many years of cooperation between the civil and military rabbinate, and called on the Justice Ministry to regulate the administrative aspects of the issue.
Amar wrote – noting historical fact – that for many years the Chief Rabbinate had married off graduates of the army's conversion track, and said the Chief Rabbinate council will convene to discuss the issue from a halachic point of view. Amar's granting of legitimacy to the IDF track and the interpretations given to his words sparked the wave of protest.
The most vociferous attacks came from the Eda Haredit which issued a "severe warning" notice at the weekend against the IDF conversion. "We strongly protest against those who call themselves rabbis and assist (the conversions) directly or indirectly," they wrote.