web analytics
July 28, 2015 / 12 Av, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

The Chief Rabbinate’s New Deal

Israel's Chief Rabbinate

Israel's Chief Rabbinate

The impasse between the Israeli Chief Rabbinate and Rabbi Avi Weiss has been resolved. That is a good thing.

To suggest that Rabbi Weiss, who has been a crusader for the well-being of Jews across the globe for decades, can’t be believed to state that someone is Jewish and unmarried is preposterous. Everyone who knows him can attest that he is a man of honesty and integrity.

Rabbi Weiss has stated that the struggle for Rabbinate recognition is not about him. The Jerusalem Post quotes him as saying, “I will continue to speak out until all rabbis of the International Rabbinic Fellowship and the Rabbinical Council of America will be formally recognized for this purpose.”

Full disclosure – I am an Orthodox rabbi and a member of the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America (though I do not speak for the RCA). As such, I fully support the RCA’s conversion standards, and would only accept Orthodox standards of personal status. I also have great respect and admiration for Rabbi Weiss, who has been a beloved friend and mentor to various members of my family for over 40 years. While he and I disagree on a number of halachic issues, I recognize and appreciate that he has brought countless Jews to a life of affiliation to Torah.

However, I must respectfully take issue with my dear friend when he calls for expanding recognition beyond current standards.

I am not writing to argue the Modern Orthodox vs. Open Orthodox point of view. That is not the point of this article. I don’t expect to change anyone’s closely held religious beliefs in an op-ed piece. Rather, I want to explain why I think that even advocates of a more “open” standard of religious observance should also support the Rabbinate’s current position.

In some respects, nothing has changed. Rabbis whose letters the Chief Rabbinate accepted in the past will continue to be accepted.

If I, a presumably unknown entity to the Rabbinate, decide to write a letter stating that a person who is engaged to be married was born Jewish and has never been married, the RCA will endorse that letter and send it on to the Rabbinate.

If, however, I state in the letter that there is a divorce or conversion in that person’s background, the matter will be referred to the Beth Din of America (BDA) for further investigation. If that divorce and/or conversion are found to meet the high standards of the BDA, it will endorse the letter and send it on to the Rabbinate.

The main difference between the old system and the new one is that the investigations of these divorces and conversions will be handled by the BDA here in the U.S. rather than by the Rabbinate in Israel.

I am concerned by the suggestion that this agreement be extended to members of the International Rabbinic Fellowship.

Recently, Open Orthodox Rabbi Zev Farber of the IRF called for taking on the agunah problem by invalidating or retroactively annulling marriages. While it is admirable that he seeks to find creative ways to put an end to this terrible situation, he is making a very big mistake. The overwhelming majority of Orthodox experts (including the Chief Rabbinate) follow the rulings of Rabbis Feinstein and Soloveitchik and others who reject this approach. The end result could be that Modern Orthodox and haredi Jews will refuse to marry the children of women who remarry after receiving this annulment.

Some have suggested that we emulate Bet Shammai and Bet Hillel, who coexisted and even intermarried (with each other) in spite of differences of opinion of marital status. The way they did it was by informing each other about whom they could marry and whom they couldn’t.

About the Author: Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz, a mohel (BrisRabbi.com) and chaplain in Monsey, NewYork, is a member of the executive committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. His blog on the weekly Torah portion can be read at TorahTalk.org.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “The Chief Rabbinate’s New Deal”

  1. There is nothing more pathological than the attempt of the Orthodox Rabbinate of our day to set all kinds of limitations on accepting conversions. For the first time in Jewish history, non-Jews seek to throw in their lot with the House of Israel, thus healing the wounds and the losses of the Holocaust and Rabbis use this as an excuse to engage in denominational politics. Sick! Absurd! and terrible judgement! In point of fact the laws in the Shulchan Aruch are much more accepting of converts than the Orthodox Rabbinate of today. Just study it
    Rabbi Ephraim Yisrael Rubinger

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
The picture speaks for itself.
Police Arrest Woman for Calling Mohammed a Pig
Latest Indepth Stories
Hamas on the Temple Mount - Jul 3, 2015

Magnanimity by Moshe Dayan, allowing Muslim control of the Temple Mount, led to today’s situation.

Community-Jewels-logo

It was modeled upon a similar fund that had been set up by Sephardic Jews in Venice. But Amsterdam’s Dotar was initially more ambitious in scope.

Brudner-072415-Rav-Aharon

Rav Aharon Margalit is a bestselling author – his book, As Long As I Live, has been translated into four languages – and a standing-room only lecturer. Both religious and non-religious audiences flock to hear him. What makes him so extraordinary? Rav Margalit is a Chasidic Jew who experienced incredible challenges from a very young […]

J Street president, Jeremy Ben-Ami.

J Street is the vanguard (Jewish face)in support of Obama’s Vienna Accords Nuclear Deal with Iran

“I hold the woman’s place over that of men in every fundamental aspect of public and private life.”

The US-UNRWA accord is another example of this White House, hostile to Israel, disregarding truth.

On the saddest day on the Jewish calendar, Tisha B’av, a reflection on the dangerous deal with Iran

The Kotel gained significance around 1550. Previously, many Jews prayed on the Temple Mount itself.

All Jews MUST stand together to oppose boycotts against Israel. So why does NIF & JCF support BDS?

This year it is hard to concentrate on anything but Iran building nuclear weapons to destroy Israel

Bibi failed the moment he transferred Israel’s Iran problem to the international arena.

I was entranced by Kaddish, a song of sorrow of the whole of Israel for the 1000s of years of exile

Like the Avos, we are invested with the mission to inspire humanity to become nobler and greater

Iran accords are worse than Munich; even Chamberlain would be shocked at what is transpiring again.

An unhappy person cannot become happy by acquiring items. Happiness has to come from somewhere else.

Torah wasn’t given to be kept in Sinai; Brooklyn or Beverly Hills-It was meant to be kept in Israel!

More Articles from Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz
Israel's Chief Rabbinate

Everyone who knows Rabbi Weiss can attest that he is a man of honesty and integrity.

jewish family

Mrs. Cohen displayed that simple, unquestioning, adamant adherence to Torah-true Judaism that typifies many of our German-Jewish brethren.

Is it appropriate for players like Tim Tebow to make grand gestures of prayer to a Master of the World Who has His Hands full dealing with much more important things?

Many years ago when I was helping my congregation write a new constitution, I submitted a first draft to an expert who had been involved in setting up new shuls.

One paragraph read, “All matters of halacha (Jewish law) will be determined by the congregational rabbi.” Pretty straightforward, I thought.

The election season is upon us. Once again, we are being called on to select the next leader of the free world.

The pope has generated a bit of controversy.

First, he permitted congregations to go back to the old custom of praying in Latin. (More about that later.) Then he announced that only the Catholic Church qualifies as a real church. Protestants, as far as the pope is concerned, simply don’t make the grade!

Yes, Torah lives on. Yes, the Lubliner Rav’s dream lives on. THEY WERE SINGING AND DANCING IN YESHIVA CHACHMEI LUBLIN!

Could it be that the Founding Fathers gave the gift of America to the world on a day that Jews were fasting?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-chief-rabbinates-new-deal/2014/01/30/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: