Israel: Seminary Student Wishing to Marry Learns Her Entire Family are Non-Jews

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chupA student in a chareidi seminary recently entered the Chief Rabbinate system as she is planning to get married. In line with standard procedure, she had to bring paperwork to validate being Jewish. She brought papers testifying to her mother’s conversion in the 1960s. The giyur was carried out by a rabbi who is not recognized by the Chief Rabbinate. She has since learned that fifty family members are not Jewish and they must now undergo giyur.

The young lady went to the Rabbanut in Netanya. She explained to officials in the Rabbanut that she does not understand why they are questioning her to prove she is Jewish since her older sisters and brother have already married in Israel, hence proving her Jewishness. It was determined her mom converted prior to being married to their father.

The rabbonim set a hearing for the young lady the following day. Rabbi Alon Arbiv took the case to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel in the hope of receiving a determination regarding the giyur of the mother. Rabbi Arbiv learned the Chief Rabbinate of Israel does not recognize the giyur of the mother.

The Netanya Rabbanut was shocked to learn the Chief Rabbinate does not recognize the Jewishness of the seminary student. It has since been learned that 50 family members are viewed as non-Jews by the Chief Rabbinate.

The seminary student was immediately classified as ineligible to wed until she undergoes conversion. It is explained the heter for her siblings to get married was an error and they and their children are not Jews in the eyes of the Chief Rabbinate. It was immediately obvious to all involved the results of case were widespread and disastrous.

The Chief Rabbinate was restless regarding the case, issuing an extremely detailed ruling in which the mother was permitted and therefore, the family. The court arranged for all of the children in the family to go to mikve on the same day, quietly and behind the scenes, taking extraordinary measures to protect the dignity of all involved.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)


18 COMMENTS

  1. What does “rabbi who is not recognized by the Chief Rabbinate” mean?
    Was the rabbi Reform, Conservative, too Modern?
    The conversion took place over 55 years ago; what do they know of a rabbi of over 55 years ago? Too many questions; too much missing information.

  2. The article should explain why the conversion was not accepted? Was it because it was a non-orthodox rabbi? Was it because it was a hareidi Beis Din thato does not support the Israeli government? Was it because it was by an orthodox rabbi whom the government never heard of?

    The “Chief rabbinate” is a government agency of the Israeli government. While sometimes the “Chief rabbi” is a great scholar, he is first and foremost a civil servant whose primary mission is to support his employer. And at this point in time and probably for the foreseeable future, that employer is not frum.

  3. For a woman to have converted 50 years ago, and now have 50 descendants, she would have to have had a very large family, which suggests chareidim. How likely is it that no noticed she had a “reform” conversion? More likely it was a kosher conversion from a Beis Din the Israeli government doesn’t recognize for political reasons.

    Perhaps YWN should check up on its facts, as they don’t add up.

  4. This, nebech, is what the Reform and Conservative movement with their so-called conversions have wrought upon Klal Yisroel.

  5. alot of people are not intellectually honest… but there is soo much spirituality destiny connection and legalities hinged upon a genealogical technicality….

    ive asked myself soo many times what would i do if i woke up one morning to find out i was totally not a jew… but instead a free-mason..

  6. to #6

    not sure what your comment is supposed to mean, since you are either trying to be intentionally vague or need commas, but calling halacha of geirus and the like a “genealogical technicality” is a bit wrong in my opinion.

    and regarding you waking up as a freemason? stop asking yourself and get on with life

  7. This has nothing to do with Reform or Conservative or Modern-lite conversion. Every country has a marriage system which distributes marriage licenses & contracts. That is why many Chashuva Rabbanim in America will not marry a couple without a civil marriage – there are laws that must be followed!

    In this case you are speaking of geyrus, there is ONE OFFICIAL center called the Chief Rabbinate that files & records proper Geyrus. It is a much better system then we have in America.

  8. These problems are going to come to the surface often in the future. “Frum” geirus was not well regulated as it is now. I know that as a fact.

    This story could have a happy ending. However it could have been detected earlier if the mesadrei kidushin, mohelim, school officials etc. would have done their homework earlier in the game.

  9. So sad. I hope this is cleared up very soon and she gets married to the boy to whom she is engaged. I hope he doesn’t change his mind.

  10. bklynmom : In the United States, at least New York, a marriage license is not really required for a marriage. If you get married without one, the clergy who performs at the wedding gets a small fine, and you’ll have an awkward time proving you are married – but the wedding is valid, you are required to file a joint tax return, and if the man drops dead the wife gets the widow’s share of the estate. If many countries, including Palestine under its previous owners, if a marriage was valid under halacha, it was valid – it wasn’t seen as a government function to tell people who they could marry. By halacha, government systems might be evidence but are hardly determinative. Given that the Chief Rabbinate in Israel is a functionary of a government controlled by non-religious Jews, and tends to be controlled by one political party or another, it is hardly a good “central source” for anything.

    The YWN story sounds a bit weird. A woman converted 50 years, is marrying off her daughter now (was this a woman who was adopted as a baby?), and has 50 descendants (children, or perhaps children of her daughters). It is well known that the government rabbinatge does not recognize some hareidi conversions since the medinah considers love of the medinah as a mitzvah equivalent to Shabbos and kashrus, so perhaps there are some interesting politics behind the story. Or maybe just sloppy reporting.

  11. I can tell you that I have had personal experience with Orthodox Rabbis, members of the RCA, who do not ask if the prospective ger is mekabel ol mitzvos. If the Rabbinate rejects conversions they did decades ago, they are correct.

  12. The brilliance of the aka pooka never ceases to amaze me.
    Just understand that its the charedim who feel the importance of keeping the power of the rabanut when it comes to marriage and garus.

  13. I assume no one here ever learned hilchos geirus. If you do you’ll see that the notion of a centralized body with rigorous standards is not necessary.

  14. And rightfully so
    because of them we have a pretty accurate knowledge of everyones yichus here.
    Although there are some holes in the system and they are annoying to deal with they have a purpose that they fulfill.

  15. I personally know people who were put through this humiliation (not at all with respect for their dignity, but rather being made to pay high fees for their “conversion”) after being megayer years before with a charedi beis din and living as charedim for more than a decade. It’s a farce–the rabbanut does not recognize conversions for their own political reasons. To say these people were “not Jewish” is outrageous.

  16. akuperma: My guess is, that your assumption in post #3 is correct, that the Rabbi who converted the mother was Frum, probably from the U.S., and the Rabbi wasn’t know to the Chief Rabbinite. It is under the Government of Israel, as you said since it is funded by it, but they are very independent.

  17. how interesting:

    the Lubavitcher Rebbe in 1970 alarmed the world 45 years ago (1970) and spoke about this every occasion for years non-stop. at that point people didn’t realize or has dosagreed. it is being realized now.