Elazar Stern, who is expected to return to Knesset soon as a MK in the Yesh Atid party, applauds the announced establishment of ‘Giyur K’halacha’ headed by Rabbi Nachum Rabinovitch Shlita.
Stern, who spearheaded religious reform legislation in the 19th Knesset, is a major advocate for leniency in the giyur process and supports all moves in the direction of liberalizing giyur in Israel.
Stern explains “We did everything possible, going to the maximum permitted and I had a law in hand, which we were willing to compromise to gain widespread support. There was a government decision to back the plan…”
He explains that today, rabbonim whom are viewed as centrist have had enough, expressing they are fed up with the current reality, prompting them to announce their alternative beis din for giyur.
Stern points out “The Chief Rabbinate of Israel is not a religious body but a political one and it has become a vehicle to advance political goals of a small group at the expense of the primary mission, preserving the Jewish character of the State of Israel”.
Mr. Stern feels the announcement of the new beis din states these rabbonim are not necessarily willing to go along with the Chief Rabbinate at ‘any cost’ by placing all control of the religious character of the state in the exclusive hands of that body.
The rabbonim affiliated with the new beis din are calling on Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef Shlita to cooperate with them. Rav Yosef, in his capacity as Rishon L’Tzion is the Av Beis Din of the Chief Rabbinate Supreme Beis Din. The rabbonim from Giyur K’halacha announce the new beis din will provide an independent network providing education and religious services for all candidates for giyur seeking such assistance.
Stern feels the ‘kibbutz galiyos’ seen in Israel today and the large aliyah from the Former Soviet Union pose new challenges for the State of Israel that demand its leaders seek out and implement responsible solutions. “It is our moral responsibility to see to the needs of the immigrants as well as their absorption and integration into society for their sakes as well as for the sake of the Jewish People”.
Stern concludes that the establishment of this independent giyur system is a significant accomplishment especially after this administration, compelled by the chareidi parties, eliminated the religious reforms passed by the previous government.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)