In a surprising twist, Religious Affair Minister Matan Kahana’s handpicked selection for the head of the Giyur Authority, Rabbi Binyahu Brunner, said during a shiur that he is opposed to Kahana’s reforms, explaining that they are “extremely problematic” and also expressed strong disapproval of Kahana’s efforts to bypass the Rabbanut.
Rabbi Brunner’s viewpoint is especially startling as Kahana specifically hired him after firing the previous head due to his opposition to Kahana’s reforms.
On recordings revealed by Channel 12 News on Motzei Shabbos, Rabbi Brunner can be heard saying during a shiur he delivered a few weeks ago: “Some minister comes and says: ‘I have national responsibility [for giyur], I want to provide solutions.’ I can’t say that his solution is a solution,” Rabbi Brunner asserted. “And I’m also not certain that if this ‘solution’ is implemented it will solve the problem [of Israel’s non-Jewish population.] I don’t see lines of people waiting, wanting to be converted. I’m not sure that this is the way.”
On the other hand, Rabbi Brunner also criticized the Rabbanut, that according to him, is not doing enough to propose “solutions.”
“This is already a 30-year-old problem. The question is how much the Rabbanut is doing to solve the national problem. This is a difficult question. On the other hand, working against the Rabbanut is also a very difficult thing.”
Rabbi Brunner also censured Kahana’s plan to “solve the problem” by bypassing the Rabbanut and allowing any municipal Rabbanim to carry out giyur. “This is like opening a door that will bypass the Rabbanut and this is also very problematic. It’s a problem.”
Rabbi Brunner explained that the halachic machlokes in question is about the issue of converting minors, something the Rabbanut opposes but is supported by some municipal Rabbanim. “This is a weighty shaila. I’m not at ease with the meikil option.”
Rabbi Brunner is davka in favor of working together with the Rabbanut: “I think there needs to be one umbrella body that will navigate the whole matter. Otherwise, it will be total chaos. We must sit down together until solutions are found and the solution must come from the Rabbanut to the political leadership. Agreements must be reached on how to advance the giyur reform. This issue is in our souls, the souls of everyone – it’s not shayach to only one sector or another.”
Senior Dati Leumi Rav HaRav Chaim Druckman, whom Kahana has repeatedly claimed as supporting his reforms, has also expressed his opposition to Kahana’s plans regarding giyur as well as kashrus.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)