With the Jewish world in Israel and abroad dealing with the aftermath of the Chaim Walder case, Rabbi David Stav, chair of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization, tells Israel National News that the last week has been “unfortunately, an ugly hour where people tried to cover, people tried to hide.”
“I'm not saying people should be embarrassed all over the place but the women should be protected and defended and deserve to get all the support from the Chief Rabbinate, from the Chief Rabbis. Not to hesitate to be on the right side of justice," Rabbi Stav says.
He says that instead, there have been attempts to “cover up for people who were blamed, who were accused of rape, of violating the worst prohibitions written in the Torah, were described as ‘righteous people’ instead of saying, ‘We have to face the truth and the facts. And to know who is on the good side and who is on the bad side.’”
“It’s not too late. We lost momentum. We have to praise the rabbis who were on the side of the victims,” he says. “It needs to be condemned and this kind of phenomenon needs to be uprooted from our society.”
On the issue of changes to conversion and who has authority for conversions, Rabbi Stav says that the idea is to give back authority to local rabbis.
“Traditionally for thousands of years, including in the State of Israel until 30 years ago, every local rabbi had the authority to convert,” he says, explaining that the Chief Rabbinate took away the authority three decades ago “with no real justification.”
With a huge debate going on over what should be the criteria for conversion, he comments: “What I recommend, and that’s what going to happen hopefully, is local rabbis will be able to carry out conversions.”
What about the criticism from some people that this will will lead to non-Orthodox conversions in Israel?
“There is no way that this will happen. All the local rabbis in Israel are authorized and ordained by the Chief Rabbinate,” he says.
“The issue is that the Chief Rabbinate doesn’t want to lose the power of carrying out conversions and doesn’t want to give this power to local rabbis.”
In terms of kosher supervision reform, he remarks that the goal should be to remove the monopoly from kosher supervision in order to improve the current situation.
“What I want is for the monopoly not to continue to work as a monopoly, and that the Chief Rabbinate will not employ supervisors but will regulate the supervisors," he says. “It will improve the level of kosher supervision and will change the climate that comes with a lot of disgrace of the name of G-d on behalf of kashrut.”