Thousands of converts to Judaism may now face a major dilemma after the nation’s Supreme Rabbinical Court ruled conversions performed by Rabbi Chaim Druckman are invalid. This involves thousands of converts since 1999.
The controversy began when a couple appeared in court in Ashdod seeking a divorce. The wife was a convert via Rabbi Druckman’s special giyur (conversion) program and the husband a Jew from birth. A court check revealed there were problems regarding the wife’s conversion which took place some 15 years ago.
The women explained following her conversion she did not observe mitzvos, the rabbis report. The court ruled the conversion was invalid retroactively, and therefore, the husband is not required to give her a get (Jewish bill of divorce). As a result, the children from the marriage are now listed as non-Jews and entered as such in the Rabbinate’s nationwide database.
The women rejected the Ashdod court’s ruling, appealing to the Supreme Rabbinical Court. The dayanim of the Supreme Court, Rabbonim Avraham Sherman, Avraham Sheinfeld, and Chaggai Izrir issued a detailed summation in which they upheld the ruling of the lower Ashdod Rabbinical Court.
This being the case, the ramifications are widespread, since thousands of converts via Rabbi Druckman’s special program are reported to not be Shomer Shabbos, and as such, their conversions are not valid, the report continues to explain.
In response, Rav Druckman stated the court’s decision “should be torn up”, adding, “whoever does not hear both sides prior to rendering a decision is not worthy of being a dayan (rabbinical judge) in Israel. How do the dayanim speak this way regarding tens of talmedei chachamim (Torah Scholars)? A person like this can be a dayan? It’s frightening!”
Regarding the specific case, Rav Druckman stated, “I do not rely on this person regarding reports of statements that the woman is not Torah observant. There is no law in halacha dictating police observe if converts are Shomer mitzvos (Torah observant). They learn for 10 months prior to the conversion. Their instructors are well-acquainted with them and they have an adopted frum Jewish family. They are also tested by the rabbanim prior to being approved for conversion. Was this honorable dayan present when this convert immersed in the mikve? How does he know if she accepted to keep a Torah lifestyle or now?”
Rabbi Chaim Druckman was born in Poland in 1944. He was a member of the National Religious Party, served in a number of Knessets, as well as deputy minister of religious affairs. He is a major figure in the nationwide Bnei Akiva movement, as well as a respected rosh yeshiva.
In the past, leading poskim of the chareidi religious have signaled his conversions (giyur) as problematic, stating his candidates were not really accepting Torah observance on the level required. Included among the critics was Maran Yosef Sholom Elyashiv Shlita.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)