Chief Rabbi Lau Threatens To Freeze Giyur, Coalition Members Call To Fire Him

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Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana with Chief Rabbi Dovid Lau at the beginning of Kahana's term.

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In the wake of the advancement of the giyur reform plan and after Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana announced the dismissal of the head of the Giyur Authority, Chief Rabbi Rav Dovid Lau threatened to paralyze the giyur system.

Kahana had said he was dismissing the head of the Giyur Authority, Rav Moshe Weller, who was appointed by Rav Lau, due to his refusal to his advance the giyur reform, in line with Rav Lau’s opposition to the reform.

Rav Lau sent a letter to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in which he wrote: “This is precisely the role of the head of the Giyur Authority – the implementation of the halachic guidelines of the Nasi of the Beis Din HaGadol [a position currently filled by HaRav Lau.] The giyur process is a halachic procedure and the obligation of HaRav Weller as head of the system is to ensure the observance of the halachic guidelines established by the Chief Rabbis of Israel for generations.”

Rav Lau continued by writing that the removal of HaRav Weller from his position “will severely impair the functioning of the Giyur Authority. He is currently leading, at my instructions, among others, the giyur process of Bnei Menashe and of Ethiopian olim as well as the giyur process of students at state-religious schools who are fulfilling the program as part of their studies.”

Rav Lau added: “The proposed giyur outline will cause a significant rift in Am Yisrael that will be irreparable. Its implementation will cause a split in the Jewish nation, which will have to grapple in the future with the difficult question of ‘Who is a Jew?’ and ‘Whom can I marry and whom, chas v’chalilah, can I not?’ – a terrible situation of two states, two nations – a divided Yahadus instead of a united Yahadus.”

Rav Lau ended the letter with an explicit threat to Bennett that since the dismissal of the head of the Giyur Authority will paralyze the system and giyur candidates will not have an address to turn to, they will turn to him instead. “If the giyur plan is advanced and the head of the Giyur Authority is dismissed, I will be forced to remove my responsibility from everything regarding the giyur system and I will immediately stop approving its giyur certificates.”

According to a Channel 13 News report, Rav Lau had already issued instructions to cease ongoing giyur processes and has notified Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata of his decision. Tamano-Shata, who herself is an Ethiopian immigrant, is expected to fiercely oppose Rav Lau’s measure. The report added that 100 giyur certificates are currently on Rav Lau’s desk but he is refusing to sign them.

In the wake of reports about Rav Lau’s letter, members of the coalition slammed the Chief Rabbi, with Kahana saying: “The Chief Rabbi’s intention to cease giyur in Israel ‘only due to the failure to extend the position of a clerk” is regretful. This will harm Ethiopian olim, soldiers who are seeking to convert and thousands of additional people seeking to convert.”

Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu’s party issued a statement calling for Rav Lau to be fired. “The attempt to turn converts into hostages of the Chareidi establishment which has seized control of the Rabbanut as well as the threats of the Chief Rabbi toward the minister appointed over him – crosses a red line and is in complete violation of accepted practice. We call on the Religious Affairs Minister to immediately dismiss the Chief Rabbi and and to summon him to a disciplinary hearing like any other public servant.”

Communications Minister Yoaz Handel (New Hope) also called for Rav Lau to be fired, saying that a public servant who doesn’t comply with the government’s decisions shouldn’t remain in office.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

26 COMMENTS

  1. Ben Gurion was smarter, when forming the state, by making an agreement about shabbat, kosher and family affairs to be determined by the orthodox.

  2. When Torah is part of the political machine of a government, it descends into the muddy swamp of petty politics. This is why religious affairs must always be completely divorced of a state government. Why is the Israeli government overseeing matters of religion in the first place? There can be no bigger chillul Hashem than politicians giving their deos on a halachic matter.

  3. crosses a red line and is in complete violation of accepted practice This phrase is taking about matan kahana, wicked lieberman, and wicked bennett. It shall not end well for all 3 of them.
    השם is siding all the way with the venerated Chief Rabbi Moreinu HoRav Dovid Lau, and השם shall cause his holy mission to succeed long after the demise & firing of the other 3 pieces of meat.

  4. Why is lieberman concerned that olim are hostages? From his perspective you don’t need giyur at all as it will make you charaidi which is bad. Oxymoron

  5. There is no part of Yiddishkeit left for me. The story of chaim walder and how you chose to cover it is simply the last straw for me. Don’t ever wonder why people stop being frum. I’m telling you now, it’s because of the hypocrisy.

  6. This government is filled with a bunch of evil, soulless people, with morals from up their …. who have no respect for what it means to be a Jew. This is quickly turning from politics to literal intermarriage.

    This is an outrage.

  7. Rabbi Lau now tastes the bitter fruit of the expected road his beloved state has now taken us down.
    No Medina= pure Torah true Judiasm.
    Medina = twisted, modified, manipulated Judaism.
    Theres no middle ground.

  8. a so calles jewish state.worser then the goyim. Ashame for all klal Isroel.Ad the End Lieberman will also introduce that eaten Chasir pig will be allowed in all the stores. Since he allone is a pig eater.
    And the whole left government with smola (including Yamina) will agree to it.As well Kahana the am Haaretz

  9. “The attempt to turn converts into hostages of the Chareidi establishment which has seized control of the Rabbanut…”
    -This is tantamount to saying (lehavdil havdalot ein ketz) that turning Catholic students into Ministers based on Catholic doctrines, is turning all Catholic wannabees into hostages of the Pope’s (lehavdil…) establishment which has seized control of the Catholic religion! Horrible!

    The rest of the quote is highly reminiscent of the NKVD’s tactics of accusing their enemies (i.e. those not in line with their way of doing things) of wrongdoings, after twisting the facts far out of reach of reason… Lieberman’s Russian roots are very apparent here and I find it personally horrifying.

  10. I am overwhelmed with gratitude to Hakadosh Baruch Hu for allowing these constant displays of insanity: It’s so laughable. Why don’t these dog meisisim just forget about giyur en gantzen? What is the significance of giyur? Isn’t giyur, intrinsically and by its very definition, a HALACHIC process? If you don’t give a hoot about halacha, why care about a halachic process called giyur? Just forget giyur! Say, “Alright everyone, from now on, no one needs giyur to be Jewish! Just register at Misrad Hapnim (lollllll btw, as if that’ll be easier hahaha)!” It is my sincerest and most fervent hope that more and more Yidden come to their senses and realize that the State of Israel is a goyishe state. And may that ensure they no longer be trapped by their cunning, anti-Das machinations… u’meheirah yibaneh beis tifarteinu!

  11. “…crosses a red line…” Do Lieberman, Kahana & co ym’s have any read lines?

    You can’t fire judges, but yes the chief rabbi – and they call themselves a Jewish state?!

  12. Rabbi Lau seems to forget that he is a civil servant, who works for whomever wins the national elections, and his job is to further their agenda. He is under the delusion he was chosen by Torah scholars to further a Torah agenda. Medinat Yisrael was never created to be a Jewish state; it was created to be a homeland where Jews could live freely while being freed from the yoke of Torah. Rabbanim who seek out nice paychecks from the Medinah should remember that whomever writes the check, is the boss.

  13. Why should these innocent Ethipopian gerim not be accepted in a timely fashion.
    I don’t agree with Kahana at all. But not to sign any legitimated geirus is adding fuel to the fire.

  14. As usuual, Apukerma states the issue clearly and succinctly. Rav Lav is a respected talmid chacham but ultimately, he is a government bureaucrat whose continued employment is contingent upon his following the lawful directives (secular no halachic) of the government in power. If those directives violate his beliefs, he should not “threaten” to resign but simply do so. There is no “opposition” within the bureaucracy…..only among chevrei knesset.

  15. The square ,akuperma
    lovely and dandy it would seem.
    Is the alternative really better however?
    Who will decide for those who are minimally observant or less across the continents what are “Orthodox values”?
    Is a stew based upon whatever the neighbors and frenemies are up to?
    Take a straw poll? vox populi?
    Blogdaism?

  16. can one of the wise commenters explain the halakhic basis for not accepting a Ger for a reason not related to his sincerity? Since when is halakha the hand-maiden to political motives/

  17. What’s next
    the partition of Poland? Akuperma . Gh concur
    Circle the Spectrum and meet on bottom. The far fascist and the far leftist

  18. DrZhidd ,
    Old topic discussed ad infinitum over the years here and elsewhere
    responsa in I g “m as well as elsewhere

    David Hamrelech and son would turn down-because it was presumed that most were converting from ulterior motives in those glorious days rather than just some -all converts

  19. This is just the beginning
    from someone in Russia:How many of those 50,000 observe Torah and mitzvos? Those I know who took the tests and passed do not keep anything. It was just “wish me luck on the test!” and then nothing. Being m’ga’er the Russian immigrants who believe in another religion just makes a Fifth Column within Judaism’

    They complain conversions is too stringent
    rather than admit that conversions are too lenient

  20. > From his perspective you don’t need giyur at all as it will make you charaidi which is bad.

    Why would a giyur make someone necessarily a haredi? There are non-chareidi observant Jews. If you do not realize it, you have more hashkafic problems than the finance minister.

  21. Yseigel > Lieberman’s Russian roots are very apparent here

    I agree. And ot works both ways: he unconsciously carries with him the negative attitude towards religion in general that was fed to him and to his parents all his life. At the same time, he is seeing his community of Jews who were robbed of Torah coming to Israel and to be, often, rejected and derided. We have a mitzva to be sensitive to ger, and almona, and orphans – and those Russian Jews are surely a mix of those: their best people were murdered (almona) and shuls shuttered (orphans) over 70 years, same as galus Bavel. So, I think part of his attitude is a response to the attitudes they meet.

  22. Timefortruth: I’m not sure of what your point is or maybe there is none. The issue here has nothing to do with halacha. Elections have consequences. On four occasions, Israelis decided NOT to decide between two clearly polarized positions on the role of the Rabbanut in the daily lives of Israelis. This time the “secular” views of roughly 75 percent of Israelis prevailed and formed a coalition, albeit dysfunctional. R’ Lau is collateral damage to those 4 elections. He has two choices: Follow the policies of the newly formed coalition (and try to moderate their policies from within) or follow your own principles and resign.

  23. @Questiontime
    It’s time to stop looking at others for your self identity and start looking at what Hashem wants from you, why He put *you* in the world.
    The Torah is pure and free from all hypocrisy and all other taint. Strengthen your relationship with the Torah and strive to live up to your own standards.
    Learn from others where you can, and the rest ignore and focus on what’s right.
    B’Hatzlacha 🙂