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October 18, 2013 9:30 am

How Dare Israel’s Rabbinate Dictate to American Orthodox Jews

avatar by Ronn Torossian

Chief Rabbi, David Lau. Photo: Wikipedia.

Recent media reports indicate that at least ten American Modern Orthodox rabbis are no longer allowed by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate to recognize the Jewish status of a couple. Amongst the rabbis whose word is no longer deemed acceptable is Rabbi Avi Weiss, one of the foremost American Zionist Orthodox rabbis.

It is tremendously disrespectful for the Israeli Rabbinate to tell American Jews which Orthodox rabbis are allowed to vouch for their Jewishness. As a Beit Din is not halachically required to determine Jewishness, this is Israel dictating to American Orthodox Jews which shuls they deem “kosher.” How dare they.

Rabbi Avi Weiss has immense love for Am Israel (the Jewish people), and is one of the foremost leaders of the Zionist Orthodox community. He has been on the front-line of so many important Jewish issues for so many years. He, and the others, have smicha (ordination) from Orthodox yeshivas and run communal synagogues. The Israeli Chief Rabbinate dares to tell congregants their rabbis can’t write a letter affirming they are Jewish? Questioning Orthodox rabbis and their congregants? Shameful. A gross disservice to klal (the community of) Israel.

Can anyone in their right mind believe that this will draw anyone at all closer to Judaism?  This will only increase the numbers of American Jews who do not belong to a synagogue (which is already at a staggering 66 percent). What a flawed system the Chief Rabbinate creates and runs. (Does anyone doubt that plenty of corrupt rabbis will write any letter needed?)

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As Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld of “Ohev Sholom – The National Synagogue” in Washington, DC recently said, “The recent actions of the State of Israel on this matter actually undermine the rabbinate of Rabbi Weiss and represent an intrusion of personal Israeli politics into the daily life of the American Jewish community. The State of Israel in effect is thereby encouraging people to attend the synagogues of certain rabbis and not others.”

There is nothing about this that is kosher.

Ronn Torossian is a proud New York Jew.

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