The Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi David Lau, was furious at the publication—without his knowledge—of a list containing the names of many Orthodox rabbis, as well as Reform and Conservative clergy, whose conversions are not recognized in Israel. Rabbi Lau said list could have serious consequences, Ha’aretz reported Monday.
In a letter addressed to the director-general of the Chief Rabbinate, Moshe Dagan, Rabbi Raphael Frank, Rabbi Lau’s assistant, wrote: “How does it happen that a list goes out without informing the rabbi about the list or its publication?”
“It is inconceivable that an official in the Chief Rabbinate will decide on his own to publicize which rabbis are approved and which are not,” Rabbi Frank wrote.
The list was prepared by Rabbi Itamar Touboul, who is in charge of determining whether individuals born abroad and registered to wed in Israel are considered a Jewish.
According to the NGO Itim, among the prominent names on the list are Rabbi Avi Weiss, founder of Yeshivat Hovevei Torah in New York; Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, one of the founders of Nefesh B’Nefesh; as well as 28 rabbis from Argentina, five from the UK, three from Australia and one from South Africa.
Modern Orthodox Rabbi Seth (Shaul) Farber, founder of Itim, suggested to some of the rabbis whose names appear on the list to sign a petition demanding that the Chief Rabbinate issue its criteria for recognition of rabbis abroad. Farber said that the fact that such lists exist “besmirches Zionism and Judaism and endangers the future of the Jewish people.”
Chief Rabbinate spokesman attorney Yaakov Alter said in response that the names on the list belong to rabbis whose approval letters for the purpose of registering marriages were rejected. “It does not necessarily mean that the Chief Rabbinate will reach the same conclusion regarding other documents issued by these rabbis,” Alter stressed.