Chief Rabbi David Lau
Chief Rabbi David Lau Flash90

Following is a translation of Chief Rabbi David Lau's letter to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

Concerning the state conversion process in the State of Israel:

The state conversion process falls under the authority of the Prime Minister’s Office. As part of my role as President of the Supreme Rabbinic Court which supervises conversions, I am involved in everything concerning state conversions. I am in close contact with conversion court judges and follow their work every single day.

At present, attorney Rabbi Moshe Valler heads the conversion system. He is a jurist and qualified to serve as a dayan [religious judge], with a wealth of experience in the area of conversions. He has served as a conversion court judge for decades… Rabbi Valler executes his role in an exemplary manner, with devotion and with warmth and a pleasant demeanor … as anyone familiar with the conversion process (civilian or military) can testify.

I have learned that he has been asked not to continue in his position for the reason that he works according to my guidelines. That, in fact, is precisely his role as head of the conversion system – to implement the halachic guidelines established by the President of the Supreme Rabbinic Court. The conversion process is a halachic process and it is Rabbi Valler’s duty to ensure that the halachic guidelines are adhered to – those guidelines that were established by the Chief Rabbis.

First of all, if Rabbi Valler does not continue in his position, this will impede the functioning of the conversion process. Rabbi Valler is currently overseeing, among other things, the conversion of the Bnei Menashe, those who have immigrated from Ethiopia, and students learning in state-religious schools.

Aside from the damage this will cause to the functioning of the conversion system, the cessation of Rabbi Valler’s tenure … will lead to a disconnect between the conversion system and the Chief Rabbinate…

Unfortunately, this step is part of this dangerous process of advancing a new conversion law that is currently on the agenda. I repeat and stress: the new outline for conversions will cause a significant rift in the Jewish People which will be impossible to repair… In the future, Jews will be forced to contend with the question of “Who is a Jew?” – who may one marry, and who one may not, G-d forbid…

As Prime Minister, you now face a great challenge, and it is within your power to be the deciding voice on this critical matter. You can prevent these various proposals regarding conversion from being implemented, proposals that endanger the continued existence of the Jewish People as a unified People…

As head of the religious community and the person who is authorized to sign conversion certificates for the State of Israel, I must inform you that if the person who heads the conversion system does not continue in his role, no solutions will be able to be found for conversion candidates.

It is with great regret that I inform you that if the conversion outline is advanced, and Rabbi Valler’s tenure is terminated, I will be forced to absolve myself of responsibility regarding the conversion system, and will no longer provide my signature on conversion certificates.

It is within your power to prevent this!