In the eye of a storm. Rabbi Drukman
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Rabbinical Court ordered to explain conversion annulments

High Court gives Great Rabbinical Court 90 days to explain decision to disqualify conversions preformed by Rabbi Haim Drukman; ascertain its jurisdiction in such matters

The High Court of Justice ordered the Great Rabbinical Court to explain within 90 days why it annulled all conversions preformed by Rabbi Haim Drukman over the past 10 years.


Rabbi Chaim Drukman, former head of the Israeli Conversions Court was relieved of his duties in May of 2008. Soon after that, Great Rabbinical Court declared that all conversions performed by him since 1999 were to be disqualified.


Several rights groups immediately petitioned the High Court, citing that the ruling essentially questioned to Jewishness of many, rendering them ineligible to marry under halachic law.


The court, headed by Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish and the honorable Ayala Procaccia and Elyakim Rubinstein, ordered the court to detail the reasoning which led it to believe it would have the authority to annul the conversions to begin with – a move which cast doubt on the halachic status of thousands of people.


The court inquired as to the State's stand on the mass conversion disqualification, to which Attorney Einat Golomb, for the State, said that the matter was highly complex and that the Attorney General's Office would prefer not to weigh in on it.


The judges hinted that their final ruling on the matter would cover the Rabbinical Court's jurisdiction in the matter, to which Attorney Shimon Yaakobi, for the Rabbinical Court, said the matter was of no concern the High Court of Justice.


"Matters pertaining to conversions are subject to manners of religious law alone, as it is interpreted by halachic rulers. The court lacks the tools to deal with such issues," he said, adding that so far, the Supreme Court has made a pointed effort not to interfere in halachic matters.


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The court also extended a temporary injunction given in another petition relating to conversions, filed by two women rendered ineligible to marry by the original ruling.


"This is a very simple case," said Attorney Susan Weiss of the Center for Women's Justice, who represented the women. "Once there is a certificate of conversion, it cannot be questioned. I hope the court debates this on a broader scale and that justice will be served."


The Ne'emanei Torah Va'Avodah group – a religious-Zionist movement – welcomed the ruling as well and urged Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman and the chief rabbis to demand the resignation of the religious judges involved in the case.


Rabbi Andrew Sacks, head of the Masorti Movement's religious services, welcomed the ruling as well, saying "how 'lucky' we are, to be living in a democratic county where the courts can rescue people from the dictations of those who aspire for a theocratic establishment. Anyone who's ever studied the Halacha knows that the majority rule is that there is no such thing contesting a conversion ex post facto.


"The Rabbinical Court's actions do not represent the spirit of neither the Halacha nor Jewish tradition and it taints the entire religious establishment."


Kobi Nahshoni contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 05.19.09, 12:09
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