According to a report appearing on the dati leumi Kippa website, in light of the new coalition realities, specifically assigning the Ministry of Religious Services to the Shas party, Tzohar Rabbonim is moving forward to establish its own beis din to deal with giyur.
The report states that the initiative was being contemplated prior to elections but now, with the reality the coalition plans to undo the liberal giyur and other changes to state religious services, Tzohar is moving forward with the planned private beis din. It is significant to note that this represents the first time the nationwide organization is publically going head-to-head with Chief Rabbinate of Israel.
In the past, the organization may have lobbied for reforms and pressured for change, but this represents setting up a parallel system that would compete with the Chief Rabbinate. Now, amid new realities vis-à-vis state religious services, Tzohar is openly confronting the state system and the Chief Rabbinate, taking steps to establish its own alternative beis din system.
Kippa quotes senior officials in the organization who explain they are under enormous pressure to establish a beis din, but this will not occur before the organization’s senior rabbinate meets to discuss the matter. “At the moment it became clear that Yahadut Hatorah buried the giyur law as part of its coalition agreement, we began advancing efforts to establish the beis din but details are not yet finalized. There are a number of elements pushing the project and we have already turned to a number of senior rabbonim regarding the matter” a senior Tzohar official is quoted saying.
One of the points reportedly included in the Yahadut Hatorah coalition agreement is the elimination of the law passed in the previous administration, the law that permits establishing regional marriage registration as well a more liberal approach to giyur. Under the coalition agreement, the marriage registration and giyur are being returned to the exclusive control of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.
Rabbi Chaim Amsellem responded to the report, praising the Tzohar effort. He states the establishment of a private beis din is a “Kiddush Hashem”. Amsellem feels such a beis din would not have outside interests, and this is particularly important regarding IDF soldiers wishing to convert, stating “They place themselves in perilous danger for the nation and this is a special mitzvah”.
He added that now that the news is public, it can be revealed the initiative is that of a number of organizations operating the umbrella known as “Tzav Giyur”.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)