Tzohar Rabbonim Plans to Establish an Independent Beis Din for Giyur


stavAccording 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)


  1. If dwelling in a semi-”jewish milieu” is more or less enough, as Tzohar intends, to regard one officially as jewish,

    could every gentile working in a local religious institution,or e.g. living in Boro Park and speaks a few yiddish expressions claim now to be a jew?!

    Some three and a half decades ago, similar forces attempted to push Begin to change the laws of Geirus in Israel.

    His rebuttal : GeiruT is Halachah, and Halachah is the prerogative of the Poskei HaDor!!

    Even under the previous system, some of us are familiar with “converts” who haven’t changed from their former lifestyle one iota!

  2. Chareidim Threatening to Establish Parallel Giyur System
    (Sunday, March 10th, 2013)

    The issue of giyur is a complex one and it appears the new reality of the incoming coalition will create more controversy than was seen in the past regarding state conversions. Without a doubt the talk of “additional leniencies” in the state giyur will result in controversy in the next generation. When children born to such couples become of age, their Jewishness will be a question for those who do not accept the state definition of a Jew. The chareidim, now viewing themselves as members the opposition, are already speaking of launching a new alternative giyur to bypass the state system.

    Maariv quotes chareidi sources as explaining “it depends just how far Lapid and Bennett take the giyur issue from Halacha”, towards determining if they will launch an alternative to the state system.

  3. chachom: It depends on how frum they are. If they (the converts) are Shomer Mitzvos, frum communities will recognize the conversion. Frum communities will ask two questions: 1) Does the Beis Din consist of orthodox Jews and follow the correct formalities such as mikva (Tzohar qualifies); 2) Does ehe putative convert’s subsequent behavior suggest they were sincere (is she frum?). Whether a Beis Din was licensed by the Israeli government is not relevant under any halachic theory.

    As for the medinah, they don’t recognize hareidi conversions either – so all this will do is further undermine the government’s control of “religious services” which is probably not what Tzohar (being fanatic zionists) intends.

    If a descendant of a Tzohar non-frum convert becomes a Baal Tseuvah, they might be asked to convert.

  4. “They place themselves in perilous danger for the nation and this is a special mitzvah”.

    I guess all the Druze, Beduoin and Arab Christian soldiers are also, then, “mitzvah observers” and we should also consider them Jewish.
    Can’t they just give out a special card, “Lovers of Zion” and let all the “Lovers of Zion” intermarry?
    First they make a problem by expanding the Law of Retun to include many more than originally and then, they want to make even more problems by changing the standards for giyur.
    It is a real nightmare, especially for halachically converted gerim.
    Soon, all gerim will be considered treif…thanks a lot, Rabbi Tzav!
    Talk about “perilous dangers!”

  5. “Halachah is the prerogative of the Poskei HaDor!! ”

    Not really. Chazal set up the standards for conversion, which is that any three rabbis can be a beit din for conversion. The Posek HaDor can’t pasul a kosher conversion any more than he can declare a pig to be kosher.

  6. tirtza: Where is the centralized system in the U.S.? What you are saying is absurd. These are Frum people who follow Halacha. No Frum organization would recognize Druze, Beduoin and Arab Christian soldiers as Jews. That’s insane.

    What is at issue here is how to deal with a current system that is broken. It’s an administrative nightmare that ends up abusing (not physically) people.

    While I’m not in favor of Tzohar’s approach, since the powers that be won’t recognize conversions not under their control, even when it meets every Halachic criteria.

    I would like to see a decentralized system that is under the Rabbinite’s direction, with approved Batei Din for conversions. Just like you can go to any recognized Orthodox Rabbi that handles a conversion process, it should be the same in Israel, except with oversight and record keeping by the current system.