Rabbi David Stav, a candidate for the post of Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi was a guest on Channel 2, addressing the issues of marriage and giyur in Israel. Rav Stav, a founder of the Tzohar Rabbonim 17 years ago explains that there is much work to be done.
When asked to comment on the disqualified Shas election infomercial showing a flash giyur, he stated “no such thing exists today anywhere under state auspices,” explaining giyur takes a minimum of a year or two. He rejected any notion of a bogus state-sponsored giyur.
The rav explained the issues, the problems faced in Israel today ,citing in 2010, 9,300 couples that could not prove their Jewishness married abroad in non-Jewish ceremonies. That number he explained represented 25% of all the weddings in 2010 – and therefore, in 20 years, he fears 50% of the population will demand the other 50% prove their Jewishness because the offspring of these marriages will be regarded as goyim.
Rav Stav feels more has to be done by the Chief Rabbinate to establish the proofs required for the many immigrants from the FSU. He explains that Tzohar Rabbonim have played an important role here, and when they dig up documents and present them to the Chief Rabbinate on behalf of immigrants the Chief Rabbinate is happy to receive the information. The problem he explains is with the system; not that the Chief Rabbinate is uninterested in the proof, but that there no one is out there looking for proof, doing the leg work.
If elected chief rabbi, Rabbi Stav explains he would establish a unit just for this, to find the evidence that exists in so many cases to prove the immigrants are Jewish. When giyur is necessary, he feels the Beit Hillel lenient approach is desired, but always within the strict parameters of Halacha. Rabbi Stav explains that from his experience he knows for this generation of FSU immigrants, there are many ways to establish one’s Jewishness, at times in the form of photos, kevarim back in the old country, testimony from others and documents that exist. He stresses someone must be out there willing to dig for it for this issue is prevalent for over 320,000 Israelis today.
Rabbi Stav also envisions opening marriage registrations to “create a type of competition to improve service to the tzibur”, and finally he envisions a significantly more active Rabbanut that is involved in outreach in towns, cities and especially the nation’s university campuses.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)