“All conversions performed since 1999 by Rabbi Chaim Avior and Rabbi Chaim Drukman, who heads the Israeli Conversion Court, must be disqualified,” the Supreme Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem concluded earlier this week, while discussing an appeal made a by a woman whose 15-year-old conversion was annulled by the Ashdod Rabbinical Court, thus naming her children non-Jewish.
In the 50-page verdict, Judges Sherman, Izirer and Scheinfeld said: "First, all conversions performed since 1999 by Rabbi Chaim Avior and Rabbi Chaim Drukman must be disqualified; second, conversions can be retroactively annulled for those who are not observant."
The Supreme Court determined that the woman’s Judaism is uncertain, and should she or her children petition for a marriage license in the near future – their request would be denied.
The case began when “Rachel” filed for divorce with the Ashdod Rabbinical Court, and the latter chose to linger on the subject of her conversion. She was asked about her observance, and when her answers dissatisfied the judge, he ruled that her conversion was not valid, thus deeming her children non-Jewish too.
According to the court, her marriage was not valid either, therefore, she did not need a divorce. The above was ruled by the judge after he had granted the woman a lawful divorce. He even rendered the husband (a born Jew) delayed for marriage as a result. Having now been approved by the Supreme Court, the verdict means that thousands of conversions will now be retroactively annulled and the converts will be asked to reconvert.
Appeal to the High Court underway
According to Attorney Susan Weiss, who is the founding director of the Center for Women's Justice (JOFA), says this verdict has far-reaching implications on thousands of people who have undergone conversion in the last few years and on their children, and is planning to appeal to the High Court of Justice against this severe resolution.
JOFA reported that both “Rachel” and her former husband are fighting a personal war for theirs and their children’s sake, but essentially represent thousands of individuals and families who will suddenly find themselves “gentile” and unable to marry the Jewish way or be buried outside beyond the cemetery’s gates.
JOFA works to promote justice for women in rabbinical and civil courts, dealing primarily with marriages and divorces. The center aspires for an Israeli society, whose democratic and religious values are fully practiced.