Tzohar Rabbonim Want the List of Approved Rabbis from the Diaspora


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lauIn a meeting between the head of Tzohar Rabbonim Rabbi David Stav and Chief Rabbi David Lau, Rabbi Stav asked to see the list of rabbis abroad who are recognized by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel to provide testimony as to one’s Jewishness.

Rav Stav pointed out that today, there are thousands of Orthodox rabbis in the United States, Australia and Europe but to date, the Chief Rabbinate has not announced which of these rabbonim is relied upon when seeking to verify one’s Jewishness.

“The absence of definitive guidelines will result in a split in the nation of the Jewish People in Israel and those in the Diaspora” Tzohar officials warn. “We are well aware that Rabbi Lau did not create this situation but rather he inherited it” Rav Stav added, “But the responsibility rests on the shoulders of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel” he concluded.

Tzohar warns an emerging crisis is identified by the organization as a result of repeated problems of Jews arriving in Israel from the USA, Europe and Australia and tried getting married using Tzohar Rabbonim.

Often people wishing to marry are required to bring a letter from their kehilla in their community of origin that testifies to their Jewishness before the Chief Rabbinate permits them to register for marriage. However, in recent years, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel has limited the number of rabbis abroad who are recognized to provide such a letter.

“Tzohar feels that while it is a known fact that matters of chupah, kiddushim, get, giyur, verifying one’s Jewishness and other Halachic matters are addressed by tens or hundreds of rabbonim abroad as a matter of routine, at times they are prevented from doing so”, Tzohar attorney Dr. Aviad HaKohen points out in a letter sent to the chief rabbis.

HaKohen adds that to the best of the Tzohar Rabbonim organization’s knowledge this list has never been publicized and this creates an issue when people approach the rabbonim to perform their marriage since no one knows which rabbis abroad may provide a letter to attest to one’s Jewishness. Without a list of the rabbis, they cannot know which rabbis are viewed as trustworthy in the eyes of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.

Tzohar is asking for a copy of this list along with a list of criteria that was used to establish the list. “Due to the important implications of this matter, Tzohar will be most appreciative if the Chief Rabbinate’s response would be forthcoming in the near future” the letter adds. That letter Tzohar points out was sent to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel two months ago and has not received a response to date.

According to Chief Rabbinate of Israel spokesman Ziv Maor, the Chief Rabbinate does not have such a list, explaining each case is decided on its own merit.

He adds there are three basic criteria that are examined by the chief rabbis in a case seeking to verify one’s Jewishness.

1) One is if the rabbi providing the letter received ordination from a source recognized by the Chief Rabbinate;

2) If the rabbi who signed the document and his mosdos live in accordance to Halacha;

3) If the rabbi who signed has personal knowledge and halachic tools to factually back the letter.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)


  1. Rabbi Stav is MO and should not be the one to approve Orthodox Rabbanim. This should be the authorization of the Chief Rabbis or well-known charedi Rabbis.

  2. AThought – Just because you don’t follow Rav Stav does not justify your attitude towards him. He is a Talmid Chacham and does deserve a modicum of respect – and his request in this case in particular is not unreasonable.

    an Israeli Yid

  3. How is asking for a list of approved Rabbi’s, if one exists, even remotely controversial. Either the list is… good and easily explained… or bad and needs to be revised. But not publicizing it does no good for anyone either those on or off the list.

  4. ujm – RAV Stav’s views don’t agree with yours – that does not place him outside the Orthodox spectrum. I may or may not agree with everything he says, but he has a basis in Halacha.

    On that note, do you have a basis in Halacha for the blatant lack of Kavod to a Rav that you exhibit? Rav Stav’s accomplishments in keeping otherwise non-Frum Israelis connected to Yiddishkeit have earned him at least a modicum of respect, no?

    an Israeli Yid

  5. A quote from Rav Stav, responding to American Reform clergy’s demands at a meeting of the Knesset caucus for Israel-US relations that their “geirus” be recognized:

    “The problem of intermarriage among Jews of the United States is not just the problem of the Americans, it is also our problem…Chelsea Clinton got married with a Jewish man… you want me to to recognize Chelsea Clinton’s child as a Jew? You want me to recognize as a rav the rabbi who officiated at their wedding? Are you trying to bring in intermarriage through the back door?”

    Hmm, sounds pretty Orthodox to me…

    an Israeli Yid