Chief Rabbi: Heads will roll over leaking of rabbinic blacklist

Rabbi David Lau promises consequences for senior rabbinate official who publicized list of 160 'blacklisted' Diaspora rabbis

Hezki Baruch ,

Chief Rabbi David Lau
Chief Rabbi David Lau

Chief Rabbi David Lau expressed outrage over the publication this weekend of a “blacklist” the Rabbinate has compiled of 160 Diaspora rabbis whom the Rabbinate does not recognize for the purposes of confirming Jewish identity or performing conversions.

The list, which was released to the press over the weekend, includes Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox rabbis, including prominent members of the ultra-liberal Open Orthodoxy movement. Graduates of the Open Orthodox Chovevei Torah yeshiva are not accepted into the umbrella organization of American Modern Orhodox rabbis, the RCA. Yeshiva University heads have also come out against the movement.

The disclosure of the list’s existence and the release of its contents were apparently done by a department manager within the Chief Rabbinate, without permission from either the Chief Rabbis or the Director-General, an aide to Rabbi Lau said.

In a letter to Dagan, Rabbi Lau’s aide wrote that the Chief Rabbi had not been made aware either of the list’s existence, nor its publication.

“The Chief Rabbi was shocked to discover this list. This was done without the rabbi’s knowledge or agreement. How can a list like this be publicized without the [Chief] Rabbi being made aware either of the list itself or its publication?”

The aide noted that the compilation of the blacklist contradicted the recommendation of a team formed by the Chief Rabbi to set standards for recognizing decisions by rabbis made abroad.

“The results of this act are very serious,” the letter continues. “First of all, a functionary in the Chief Rabbinate cannot decide on his own to publicize whom the Rabbinate approves or not. Secondly, the damage this does to certain rabbis cannot be exaggerated – including the Chief Rabbinate.”

In the wake of the leak, Rabbi Lau has instructed Chief Rabbinate Director-General Moshe Dagan to call in the department manager responsible for questioning and a formal reprimand.

“Investigate how [the department manager] was able to do this on his own, then reprimand him and deal with this phenomenon with full severity.”