Another point of interest is that one of the major supporters of the bill was Religious Affairs Deputy Minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan (Habayit Hayehudi). Rabbi Ben-Dahan was the longtime director-general of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the bureau chief for HaGaon HaRav Mordechai Eliyahu, zt”l. Despite this background, Rabbi Ben-Dahan is disregarding the position of haredi and dati leumi gedolei Yisrael, as well as Israel’s Chief Rabbinate.
Now that this bill has passed, the Ministry of Religious Services is looking at the next step in its vision of making religious services in the state of Israel more “user friendly” to all. Next on its agenda is the geirus system, which the ministry is seeking to dramatically change. Rabbi Ben-Dahan is confident that his bill on this issue will create competition, as the new marriage registration law is meant to do.
In the existing system, only a relative few dayanim are authorized to perform geirus. Under the proposed new law, 30 new giyur facilities will join the existing state system. Each of these facilities will include three authorized dayanim, meaning that 90 dayanim will join the 31 currently certified nationwide. This bill will also permit candidates to “shop” for the rabbi of their choice.
Perhaps the most significant change is that the candidate for geirus will have the ability to select where he or she has the geirus done. And the candidate will be able to select the dayan. Therefore, if one dayan is known for being stringent and another lenient, a candidate may opt for the lenient one – regardless of where the dayan is located in Israel.
Habayit Hayehudi indeed promised to bring major reform to the country. But few understood that this would be accomplished with the disapproval of its own rabbanim.Rabbi Raphael Fuchs
About the Author: For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.com.
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