Chief Rabbinate’s ‘blacklist’ of American rabbis released

JTA obtains so-called 'blacklist' of 160 rabbis from around the world whose conversions are not recognized.

JTA and Arutz Sheva ,

The building of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel is located in Jerualem.
The building of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel is located in Jerualem.
Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

The Israeli Chief Rabbinate allegedly has a list of some 160 rabbis it does not trust to confirm the Jewish identities of immigrants.

The list was reportedly compiled and later published by a department manager within the Chief Rabbinate, who acted without authorization from either the two Chief Rabbis or the Director-General of the Chief Rabbinate.

To marry in Israel, immigrants must prove they are Jewish to the Chief Rabbinate, often via a letter by a congregational rabbi attesting to the immigrant’s Jewish identity. This list comprises rabbis whose letters were rejected during 2016. Rabbis from 24 different countries appear on the list, which includes several prominent American Orthodox leaders. It does not state whether the Orthodox are from the controversial Open Orthodox movement, termed neo-Conservative by leading modern Orthodox rabbis, but Rabbi Avi Weiss, founder of that ultra-liberal stream, is said to be on the list.

The Chief Rabbinate's standards for proving Jewish identity are unrelated to the State of Israel's requirements for the purposes of immigration. They have bearing on marriage, not citizenship.

JTA obtained the list from ITIM, an organization that guides Israelis through the country’s religious bureaucracy, which has called the list a “blacklist.”