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May 17, 2015

woman finds out she isn't Jewish when registering to marry

This story is frightening that it could even happen.

Here's the story, as reported by Srugim (I also heard it talked about the other day on the radio):
A haredi woman, a graduate of a Beis Yaakov school, went to register for marriage and to prove her status as a Jew, for that purpose.

When asked for her papers, she explained that her older brother and sister had already married, and she did not understand why she was required to prove her Jewishness, when they already did. It turned out that her mother had been a convert many years prior, before she married her husband, and therefore the daughter was being required to bring the relevant paperwork (it still does not answer her question, if it had already been acceptable for her siblings, why was it not good enough for her?)

It turned out that the beis din that had done the conversion, so many years prior, had no authorization to perform conversions, and therefore the conversion is not recognized as valid by the Rabbanut.

Obviously, saying the conversion is invalid presents a problem not just for this young woman hoping to marry, but for all her siblings, as well as her married sisters children. According to the report, 50 people were directly affected by this decision.

The issue was checked and double-checked and triple-checked, but the decision stayed the same. She would have to undergo a new conversion to be able to marry in Israel.

The entire family then went to the beis din to immediately clarify their status, and if necessary to undergo conversions. The beis din then converted the entire family, of 50 people including grandma, kids, and grandkids.

The article does not say so, but they all would have had to get married [again] as well.

It is crazy that this can happen. The Rabbanut did not say the conversion was no good or fake, but the beis din was not authorized. Was it authorized originally, but no longer? Why were they all accepted until this third child wanted to marry? what changed? The Rabbanut sets its list of authorized batei din in order to ensure certain standards, so if this beis din was not on the list, and in a way that affected so many people, it better be because this beis din does not adhere to proper procedure and standards, rather than being petty power politics by the Rabbanut (something that is not unknown to happen). If they slipped through the system for so long, and her older siblings were able to marry despite what was now discovered, how many others have slipped through the system and are not really Jewish? Could she have married abroad as a Jew and then come to Israel unchecked? There are probably many more questions as well. This story is just mind-boggling.

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  1. The repeated checking that you mention was reported in the story to only be the local beit din repeatedly calling the Rabbanut. They mentioned a call to hutz la-aretz, but don't say to whom. An earlier report of this story (plausibly) alleged that the Rabbanut wasn't very vigorous in clarifying to the end if the mother's conversion might have been acceptable, at least post facto. Such a thing takes time and effort, and it doesn't look like that was invested.

    Also, there is a curious phrase in the Srugim article. It says the beit din that converted mom wasn't "authorized" to do so. Back in the sixties, in the US (where earlier reports say the story originates) there was no such thing as an "authorized" beit din. "Authorized" by whom? Halchically, the only question would be if the beit din and its proceeding were kosher, at least post facto.

    I'm a bit suspicious of how this went down, unless and until more clear information becomes available. The Rabbanut and non-Rabbanut rabbanim and batei din already have proven themselves to be both strict, and unthorough, in these matters in the past.

    Baruch Hashem, at least is sounds like the family is happy with the resolution of the matter. Now I wait to hear how some of the children will have problems with shidduchim because of this...

  2. To make things worse, every one of those kids and grandkids cannot now marry kohanim. And if any *did* marry kohanim, they are in big trouble.

    Don't people think???

  3. I understand a legitimate blog post and some Srugim site for also posting it, but it stays in the realm of non-rabbincal people like us discussion an issue that A) we are not well versed in and B) do not have all the details.


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