Rabbi Haim Drukman
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Rabbi Drukman dismissed from conversions court

Civil Service Commission orders Prime Minister's Office to terminate conversions court head's employment effective immediately, citing it opted not to renew his contract. Religious Zionism sources warn move may have coalitional ramifications

The Civil Service Commission decided to terminate Rabbi Haim Drukman's tenure as head of the conversions court effective immediately, Ynet has learned. 


Is a letter sent to the Prime Minister's Office, Deputy Civil Service Commissioner Moti Aharoni confirmed that Drukman's contract, which ended on December 31, will not be renewed.


As the Prime Minister's Office has administrative jurisdiction over the conversions court, Director-General Eyal Gabai was asked to inform Drukman of the decision.


The letter, sent 10 days after the contract expired, reads: "Rabbi Haim Drukman began working for the Prime Minister's Office as head to the conversions court on February 9, 2004. His employment contract was renewed periodically and ended on December 31, 2009.


"As the rabbi will soon turn 77, the civil service commissioner has asked me to inform you that his tenure can no longer be renewed." Gabai was asked to summon Drukman to a meeting and inform of the decision.


"The Civil Service Commission," ended the letter, "Would like to express its heartfelt gratitude to Rabbi Drukman for his contribution to promoting conversions in Israel and his willingness to find halachic solutions to this complex social matter."


The Civil Service Commission also noted that according to a 2008 government directive, the position is to be filled via the decision of a locator committee, and asked the Prime Minister's Office "make the necessary arrangements to set such a committee up in order to fill the position of head of the conversions court."


"This is the first time I've heard of this. I have no idea what you're talking about," Drukman told Ynet.


The rabbi's associates were puzzled by the decision's timing, saying it was made now in retaliation to a recent, controversial statement he made on settlement eviction.


"They've been discussing ending his tenure for a long time and all of a sudden the make a decision 10 days after his contract ends? I guess the Prime Minister's Office wants to punish him for what he said," ventured one of Drukman's associates.


Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel Shlomo Amar said he will ask Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for clarifications on the matter. according to Ynet's sources, Amar will demand Drukman's tenure will be extended at least until a replacement is found.


Ynet sources at the PM's Office said former Great Rabbinical Court Judge Rabbi Shlomo Deichowsky is the lead candidate to take Drukman's place.


Deichowsky is considered a moderate rabbi, which may go a long way towards solving several controversial conversion issues. So far, however, Deichowsky has not agreed to the appointment.  


Better the devil you know?

Meanwhile, and as the news of Drukman's termination broke, agitation was noted in Religious Zionism and Habayit Hayehudi faction chairman Knesset Member Zevulun Orlev warned against possible coalitional ramifications.


"The government's conduct in this matter bares coalitional consequences. I, for one, can't see myself voting for the government in any nonconfidence vote on the matter," he told Ynet. "It's inconceivable that the government will work to oust him while we are part of the coalition."


Orlev said he hopes "the government will rectify this disgrace with the same speed the rabbi was ousted so to prevent an unnecessary crisis."


Drukman, added the MK, "Is Religious Zionism's senior spiritual leader and he should be treated with the respect he deserves."


MK Uri Ariel (National Union) also protested the decision, slamming it as "scandalous" and "offensive to all rabbis and especially to Rabbi Drukman."


Somewhat surprisingly, even those opposing Drukman within the ultra-Orthodox community among were displeased. "This makes no difference at all – it's just a technical decision," a senior source in ultra-Orthodox conversion circles told Ynet.


"There is no chance a person who truly observes conversion ruled would be appointed in his place. His successor will be just like him or worse.


There shouldn’t be a governmental conversions system to begin with," he continued. "It's a false system and the results speak for themselves – the majority (of converts) don't observe mitzvahs. The entire systems should be shut down There's better use for the money spent on it."


פרסום ראשון: 01.14.10, 07:52
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