The Chief Rabbi of Israel, David Lau, this evening (Tuesday) addressed a scathing letter to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett against the intention to advance the conversion outline and terminate the tenure of the head of the conversion system, Rabbi Moshe Weller.
In his letter, he noted that "the role of the head of the conversion unit is to implement the halakhic guidelines of the president of the Great Court. And it is the duty of the head of the department to ensure that the halakhic guidelines are observed."
It will be recalled that the conversion plan of the Minister of Religions, Matan Kahana, has been revealed, centered on the possibility for city rabbis to establish conversion courts, in order to convert tens and hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens who are of Israeli descent but are not Jews according to Jewish law.
The conversion law is due to go up for a first reading in the Knesset tomorrow.
The Chief Rabbi also writes that "the termination of the term of office of the person in charge of implementing the halakhic guidelines is to cut off the connection between the conversion system and the chief rabbinate, and will result in the severance and removal of halakhic responsibility for what is done in the conversion system."
The chief rabbi goes on to write, "Unfortunately, this step is part of the dangerous trend of promoting the conversion outline that is on the table these days.
I reiterate that the outline of the proposed conversion will cause a significant rift in the people of Israel that cannot be reconciled. "
"Implementing the proposed conversion plan will cause a split of the Jewish people, who will have to deal in the future with the difficult question 'who is a Jew', who can be married and who can not, a terrible situation of two states for two peoples, divided Judaism instead of united Judaism."
At the end of his letter, the Chief Rabbi informs the Prime Minister: "I inform you with great sorrow that if the conversion outline is promoted and the term of office of the head of the conversion system is terminated, I will have to remove responsibility for everything in the conversion system."
Minister of Religions Matan Kahana, Photo: Oren Ben Hakon - Archive
The Minister of Religious Affairs, Matan Kahana, referred to a letter sent by Rabbi Lau: "It hurts and regrets the Chief Rabbi's intention to stop the conversion in Israel only due to the non-extension of a clerk's tenure.
Kahana added: "With the intention of reaching as broad an agreement as possible, the government and the coalition are currently promoting a conversion law that will allow Israelis who wish to do so to convert according to Jewish law."
Meanwhile, the Minister calls on the Chief Rabbi to reiterate his intention to stop the conversion in Israel and to continue the commandments in order to reach agreements in favor of state and halakhic conversion.
Also, close relatives of Aliyah and Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano Sheta announced: "The minister will not allow the rights of immigrants to be violated, she will insist on it."
Later, the rabbi's relatives stated that the claim regarding the stopping of the conversion in the Ethiopian community was a "complete lie."
A statement on his behalf said: "The Chief Rabbi is currently the head of the Jewish community by law and has signed any conversion to a Jewish religion (conversion). The rabbi will know according to which instructions the conversions were made.
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