Jewschool’s Josh Frankel is up in arms — and with good reason:
Just when you thought the conversion mess couldn’t get any worse - the good folk in Israel drop another bomb. The Jerusalem Post reports that the High Rabbinical Court has ruled to invalidate, retroactively, all of the conversions performed by Rabbi Chaim Druckman since 1999.
Get this straight, Rabbi Chaim Druckman isn’t a reform, conservative, or heck even some strange liberal YCT guy. Rabbi Chaim Druckman is a major Rosh Yeshiva, a recognized halakhic scholar, and at times has been in charge of the national religious education system in Israel. His only offense apparently - he wears a knitted yarmulke.
This isn’t a little thing. Rabbi Druckman isn’t just a private rabbi in a little synagogue. He was the head of the official, government conversion authority. This means that thousands of people’s conversions have been effectively invalidated. Also, this isn’t just a question of whether your local synagogue will let you enroll your kids in day school. This means that thousands of people are no longer Jewish, their kids are no longer Jewish, they are no longer married, they can not get married, they can no longer be buried in ordinary cemetaries, and can no longer go to religious schools. They have been placed as second class citizens. All apparently because one woman, more than fifteen years after she converted was no longer shomeret shabbat - according to the ideals of this rabbinic court.
Here’s The Jerusalem Post’s article on the ruling.
UPDATE: Writing in Ha’aretz in response to this ruling, Asher Maoz opens fire. Meanwhile, The Jerusalem Post reports, Israel’s Sephardic chief rabbi, Shlomo Amar, is trying to reassure converts, and the Knesset is planning to take up the issue.
UPDATE II: The Rabbinical Council of America is lending its voice to the chorus of critics of the rabbinic court’s opinion, JTA reports.