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Home > Secteur-English > General > Rabbi Haskel Lookstein Convert Rejected – A Shameful Day for Israeli (...)

Rabbi Haskel Lookstein Convert Rejected – A Shameful Day for Israeli Orthodoxy.

I often think how much of a better state religion would be in Israel, if Rabbi Jonathan Sacks ran the show here. Today’s ruling is yet another case in point of how things just make no sense here.

A woman called Nicole who wanted to marry an Israeli from Petach Tikva had converted under the auspices of Rabbi Lookstein from New York. The Bet Din in Petach Tikva did not accept Rabbi Lookstein as an authority to grant her conversion.

Rabbi Haskel is one of the most respected and senior Rabbis in the US and a talmid of Rav YB Soloveitchik. He holds tremendous influence in the American Orthodox community.

What makes no sense is that firstly, is it agreed and accepted that the woman is committed to living an Orthodox lifestyle and secondly, Chief Rabbi David Lau recognizes Rabbi Lookstein is an accepted figure to authorize a conversion.

So, what’s the problem ?

A technical one – That Rabbi Haskel Lookstein is not on a sacred list of Rabbis who can authorize conversions.

As a result, not just this woman, Nicole, but all previous conversion Rabbi Lookstein oversaw, including that of the daughter of Donald Trump is now under question.

What’s really at the core of this ruling ? I think it is unwillingness of this particular Bet Din to acknowledge and respect Diaspora Rabbanim and their standards. Ironic though, that it’s known the London Bet Din is one of the strictest Batei Din in the world when it comes to conversion and does a better job than the Israeli Rabbinate !

Rabbi Seth Farber, the head of ITIM, said in response that it is a sad day for converts and it’s a sad day for the relations between Israel and American Jewry.

‘The rabbinical judges, in their decision, have degraded the convert, but not only her, they also degraded hundreds of Diaspora rabbis and their congregations,’ he said.

The convert in this case, Nicole said, ‘I just want to get married, I want to start my life. They [the Petah Tikva rabbinate] are putting my whole life on hold. My fiancé is religious, I am religious. I want my children to be considered Jewish… That’s the whole point of the conversion.

‘I am Jewish. It’s not fair that I would be considered otherwise. It’s very frustrating, I want to cry. All I want to do is have a Jewish family, she added.

Yes, certainly, a shameful day for Israeli Orthodoxy !


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