Chief Rabbinate Council meeting
Chief Rabbinate Council meetingChief Rabbinate

The Chief Rabbinate has announced that it ihas decided to establish a committee to determine the criteria for recognition of rabbis in the diaspora for the purposes of conversion, marriage, and divorce, following Wednesday's meeting of the Chief Rabbinate Council and the Higher Rabbinical Court.

However, one of the committee members was on the court which refused to recognize a conversion performed by Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, one of the most prominent Orthodox rabbis in the US. The refusal to recognize Rabbi Lookstein's conversion was one of the reasons the committee was formed.

The judge in question is Rabbi Yitzhak Almaliah, who served on the high rabbinical court panel which refused to recognize the Jewishness of a woman converted by Rabbi Lookstein in July. The woman whose conversion was not recognized said that she "felt humiliated."

The decision led to a split between the Chief Rabbinate and the Higher Rabbinical Court on the issue. The Chief Rabbinate issued a statement clarifying that it recognized Rabbi Lookstein's conversions while the Higher Rabbinical Court maintained its rejection of the conversion case it heard.

The case also raised doubts as to whether Ivanka Trump, the daughter of American President-elect Donald Trump, would be recognized as Jewish by the Higher Rabbinical Court. She was also converted by Rabbi Lookstein.

Last week, the Chief Rabbinate announced that it would commit to creating standards for the recognition of Diaspora Rabbis for the purposes of conversion. Sefardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef announced that Ivanka Trump's conversion would continue to be recognized under the new standards.

Rabbi Seth Farber, the director of the ITIM organization which helps people navigate the bureuacracy of the religious establishment in Israel, called the presence of Rabbi Almaliah on the committee "disturbing."