Daily Israel Report

Rabbi Yisrael Rosen Offended by Shas Ad: Spot is Entirely False

Ad "not only sullies the reputations of conversion judges," but also attacks the chief rabbi, "who has final authority on conversions."
By Annie Lubin
First Publish: 1/11/2013, 12:16 AM

Deri, Yishai and Atias of Shas
Deri, Yishai and Atias of Shas
Flash90

Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, director of the Zomet Institute and founder of the office for conversion to Judaism in the Chief Rabbinate of Israel spoke to Arutz 7 about the controversial Shas ad which attacked Yisrael Beytenu and Avigdor Lieberman, claiming the country is allowing false, improper conversions which is leading to assimilation. 

The ad in question shows a couple on their wedding day. The Russian bride receives a faxed confirmation of her conversion after calling a "conversion hotline".

The bride tells the groom that the fax was a wedding gift, sent by "Beytenu", a reference to Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beytenu party, which has sought to moderate the Israeli rabbinate.

"This spot is entirely false," said the Rabbi. "It not only casts doubts on the reputations of dozens of conversion judges, who do their work faithfully, but also with this broadcast, they have started a boycott against the rabbis, the chief rabbi, Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, who has final authority on any subject regarding conversions in Israel."

Rabbi Rosen stated that the entire notion of faxed conversions was absurd and far fetched. "No political cause, and certainly not Yisrael Beytenu, is permitted to change conversion laws or arrange indiscriminate mass conversions. Lieberman's party also understands that conversion is a halachic act, which has specific minimum requirements," said the Rabbi. 

"While there are public forces calling to lower the requirements, and these arguments are viewed as legitimate even among the rabbis, it never occurred to anyone to conduct conversions via fax or email. The State of Israel invests a lot in the conversion process, which is managed entirely by Torah scholars. Also, Yisrael Beytenu supports this system. Perhaps the party would want to see the process more marketable or consumer-friendly, but certainly we are dealing with a system that runs according to halachic law," said Rabbi Rosen.

Although Shas agreed to remove the ad at the request of the Elections Committee, the party defended the message, saying, "The television spot did not say one bad word about anyone. Intermarriage and fictitious conversions can lead to assimilation and loss of the Jewish identity of the state. A country which fights against assimilation abroad cannot allow assimilation from within."