Just when you thought the conversion mess couldn’t get any worse – the good folk in Israel drop another bomb. The Jerusalem Post reports that the High Rabbinical Court has ruled to invalidate, retroactively, all of the conversions performed by Rabbi Chaim Druckman since 1999.
Get this straight, Rabbi Chaim Druckman isn’t a reform, conservative, or heck even some strange liberal YCT guy. Rabbi Chaim Druckman is a major Rosh Yeshiva, a recognized halakhic scholar, and at times has been in charge of the national religious education system in Israel. His only offense apparently – he wears a knitted yarmulke.
This isn’t a little thing. Rabbi Druckman isn’t just a private rabbi in a little synagogue. He was the head of the official, government conversion authority. This means that thousands of people’s conversions have been effectively invalidated. Also, this isn’t just a question of whether your local synagogue will let you enroll your kids in day school. This means that thousands of people are no longer Jewish, their kids are no longer Jewish, they are no longer married, they can not get married, they can no longer be buried in ordinary cemetaries, and can no longer go to religious schools. They have been placed as second class citizens. All apparently because one woman, more than fifteen years after she converted was no longer shomeret shabbat – according to the ideals of this rabbinic court. Do you understand how inane that is? This ruling basically says, that if one day, decades, marriages, and children after you convert, you happen to tear a piece of toilet paper on shabbat once not only are you no longer Jewish, but everyone your rabbi ever converted is no longer Jewish!
This is beyond absurd. Such a position threatens every conversion. Hey, why stop there? Perhaps your misbehavior could undermine your mother’s or your grandmother’s conversion. That fundamental principle of, “A Jew, even if he sins, is still a Jew” – gone. Hey, Moshe got angry and hit that rock. He sinned. Guess he never converted at Mount Sinai either. And if he didn’t, well I’ll let you figure that one out.
Perhaps I should stop here, but one last little fear. Ever since the RCA kowtowed to the Israel establishment, they’ve been promising that everything they do will only affect the future, and past conversions will not be doubted. Good luck with that now. If Rabbi Druckman’s sruggy invalidated his conversions, there are plenty of Orthodox rabbis who don’t wear velvet either.
Update: I found a copy of the original teshuva here. (Hat tip to Rabbi Jeff Fox) I plan on posting some more details soon, but it is important to realize that the original reporters did get one thing wrong. Her husband is not being forbidden to marry. Quite to the contrary, the previous beit din had issued an injunction on his getting married until this mess was settled. But, since the court decided he was never married in the first place, he is now free to do as he wills.