The Inside Story of the Rabbanut’s Reversal on Avi Weiss


01_ami153_coverThe Jewish world has been dismayed by Israel’s Chief Rabbinate’s reversal regarding the status of Avi Weiss, the founder of Open Orthodoxy.

Weiss’s reformist agenda, including ordaining Jewish women as Orthodox rabbis, has previously caused the Rabbanut to reject Weiss’s letters attesting to the Jewish status of people seeking to get married in Israel.  Last week the Rabbanut announced that it will once again accept Weiss’s letters of attestation. This change threatens to have far-reaching repercussions both in Israel and in the United States. In this week’s Ami Magazine, the secret factors that influenced the Rabbanut’s reversal are unearthed.

Rabbi Tzuriel Bublil, an attorney and pulpit rabbi who previously worked in the chief rabbinate, spoke to Ami about the decision-making process he has uncovered in talks with high-echelon officials of the present rabbinate. Further, the role of a troubling letter sent by US Congressman Eliot Engel (NY-D) to Benjamin Netanyahu, calling on the prime minister to intercede in the rabbinate’s religious decisions, is examined in an interview with Prof. Paul J. Weitham of Notre Dame University, an expert in separation of church and state. See the expanded coverage in this week’s Ami Magazine.

(AMI Newsroom)


  1. At a pro-Israel rally in Manhattan about 14 years ago, I saw a man with a kipa say hello to a group of teenage girls and then kiss the girls. I asked the man was and was told that it was Avi Weiss. It did not appear that the girls he kissed were his daughters, but, hopefully for him, they were. Perhaps someone who knows for sure can inform the Chief Rabbinate whether Avi Weiss is shomer negiah.

  2. “The Jewish world has been dismayed by Israel’s Chief Rabbinate’s reversal” – takeh mamesh ‘the Jewish world’? A tiny fraction of the Jewish world has been ‘dismayed’.

  3. We must never forget that the chief Rabbinate is bought and paid for by the secular government. They may be good people personally, but they cannot be relied upon to protect the integrity of the Torah and mesorah.

  4. The Chief Rabbinate didn’t simply say that they’ll accept geirus testimony from anyone. They gave the RCA the power to make such determinations for American rabbis on their behalf. This allows people who actually know the players to make a decision, rather than it coming from Israel at arm’s length.

    And the question isn’t whether Weiss is or isn’t observant, it’s whether a given convert is sufficiently committed to observance to be a valid geir.

  5. @Eliyahu10: Shlomo Carlebach kissed girls that were not his daughters. How come nobody ever mentioned/complained about this? Double standard.

    Rabbi Weiss is NOT a reformist. If he were, he wouldn’t be teaching at Yeshiva University. Maybe he knows more about halacha than you do. Where does it say anywhere in the Torah or Halacha that women CAN’T be rabbis? Please show me the source.

  6. Seriouly Elyahu… 14 years ago you saw a man who someone else said was Rabbi Avi Weiss kiss some girls who may or may not have been his daughters. I have no opinion one way or another regarding his suitability but your statement is not something you should be posting regarding a Rabbi who some people may hold in high regard.

    My assumption is the bet din of the Chief Rabbinate would not want to hear something that so clearly is just plain loshan hara.

  7. #7 – There are a great many things that are assur in the Shulchan Aruch: lashon hara, rechilut, lying, coveting, etc. etc. etc. – is it your contention that a rabbi who has ever transgressed any part of the Shulchan Aruch may not attest to a persons Jewish status? Good luck with that.

    Moreover, your reading of the Shulchan Aruch as paskening that it is assur to kiss ones child in public is far from obvious, vd”l.

  8. Eliyahu10 says:

    sounds to me like real lushon harah and should be removed. can you bring a witness? are the girls going to testify? who are you that we rely on a unsubstantiated person who may just be a liar?

    Yes, they did protest against Shlomo Carlebach, I remember well.

    But this comment of Eliyahu10 should be removed. it is halachaly a avaira for YWN to print unless you have another two people who were there saying it is true.

  9. #5 walton157, just to clarify, as a student of Yeshiva University, I know for a fact that Avi Weiss absolutely does not teach at YU. In fact, the Rabbonim such as Rav Schachter, Rav Willig, Rav Sobolofsky, (the list goes on and on) are vehemently opposed to Avi Weiss and Chovivei Hatorah and view as an incredibly destructive element to Orthodoxy. While there is a liberal student element in YU (there are many many people in YU including more liberal students as well as hundreds of Bnei Torah, etc.) many many are opposed to Avi Weiss and his policies. In fact, this is a brilliant article criticizing Chovivei, that was written in response to a pro “open-Orthodox” article published in the liberal student newspaper (the newspaper is not an indication of the voice of YU, it’s just made up of the guys who are interested in putting the time to participate)