Identity, Israel, Politics, Religion

No One is Jewish

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. Rabbi Druckman, from Jpost
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.

29 thoughts on “No One is Jewish

  1. Perhaps this is a naive question, but why would the conversion status of one woman–and perhaps her family–affect the status of others?

  2. Is there a Gov’t-backed Haredi religious board to whom I can turn in my Jew-card? Seems like being “Jewish” in Israel is more hassle than it’s worth. I don’t need an identity card to tell me who I am, anyway.

  3. alisha,
    I haven’t read the actual decision (if someone knows where I can get it, I would really like to) but my guess is that they are arguing since this woman isn’t religious anymore, she had a ‘faulty conversion’, and since this rabbi performed one ‘faulty conversion’ all of his conversions are now suspect.

  4. Check this part of the JPost story:
    Finally, the high court ruled the Jewish status of the woman questionable and ordered that she and her children must be added to the list of me’ukvei nissu’in (people who cannot marry under Jewish law). Out of extra caution, her husband was also added to the list of illegal marriages despite his being a Jew by birth.

  5. Kung Fu Jew:
    Hashem yerahheim. Good catch.
    That’s just sick. I wonder if that’s going to be a new weapon of control — “do what we want or we’ll deJewify you, even if you can prove you’re a direct descendent of David Hamelekh”

  6. Yep – I wanna turn in my Jew-card too. I want to go and raise a raucous in that Hareidi Organization that chose to make that ruling and I’m going to do it af Yiddish! Zay nit kin tierey men-sion, und zey nit kin men-sion mit menchlachkeit! Period!

  7. The beauty of the whole story is that it was completely unnecesary to do this in this proceeding. There was no question asked of the court about conversion, and it was not the issue at hand. The woman was given a get – which is pretty expensive and time consuming to write – for nothing, since she apparently wasn’t jewish.
    I say end the nonsense – let people convert into communities and let them decide if the convert is Jewish enough for them or not. And halakha has rules for governing people’s reliability. Use them.

  8. Chillul Who: Seems like being “Jewish” in Israel is more hassle than it’s worth
    Wrong. Being Jewish in ISrael is worth piles of money, social recognition, a decent burial, marriage, jobs and fair treatment. Its really the only way to get around here, sad to say – otherwise you’re branded a demographic threat.

  9. I think this is excellent news. If the dati leumi sector turns against the rabbanut, then maybe public opinion will shift enough that it can one day be dismantled.

  10. Kung Fu: I think you are missreading “despite his being Jewish from birth”. This is more an indication of his wife’s Jewish ness (albeit questionable). If she was completely goy he is a single man and can marry whom he wishes. Since her status is questionable (apparently from this – not completely goy) he is still on the hook and therefore not on the “good to marry” list.

  11. Since her status is questionable (apparently from this – not completely goy) he is still on the hook and therefore not on the “good to marry” list.
    But that’s why he gave her a get!

  12. I can’t find the “despite his being a Jew by birth” line, or anything about knitted yarmulkes, in the linked story. Has the story been changed?

  13. Desh,
    The line about the former husband was in an earlier version of the article. That the main factor at play is that Rav Druckman does not identify as Charedi is my interpretation. After all, there are plenty of converts that have converted through Charedi institutions who do not practice in accordance with that community’s standards, but no one has invalidated Rav Elyashiv’s conversions yet.

  14. All the Datiim Leumiim are going nuts!
    But seriously, there’s no real difference between one imperialism and the other. The DL people will only accept other Orthodox Jews. And even then not all. And maybe not even each other. They’re not much better than the haredim.

  15. I still can’t get over the ridiculousness of this situation. Questioning all of the conversions performed by a rabbi because of what happened with one person? That’s like throwing out an entire carton of eggs because you find a blood spot in one.

  16. It’s more like throwing out all the eggs that ever came from a single chicken whom once produced an egg with a blood spot.
    The separation of Rabbanut and State is the only solution. How many more incidents like this have to happen before the majority sees this as the only workable way to move forward?

  17. These guys would have annulled Ruth’s conversions and declared David a non-Jew. Of course, David could have whipped their asses…..

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