Sherman strikes again: Examine most converts

Rabbinic court judge Avraham Sherman, who previously ruled that Rabbi Druckman’s conversions should be nullified, said in an interview on Walla! that all modern-era conversions are invalid. Hiddush: Yet more proof that conversions need to be taken out of the rabbinate’s hands

Candidate for conversion in the rabbinical conversion court in Jerusalem. 21.07.03. Photo: Flash 90 Candidate for conversion in the rabbinical conversion court in Jerusalem. 21.07.03. Photo: Flash 90

“Sherman represents the phenomenon of zealotry that is growing ever wider in the religious establishment in Israel. The attempt to claim that halakha has only one interpretation – Sherman’s – is utterly baseless,” Hiddush head Rabbi Uri Regev said, in response to statements made by Rabbi Avraham Sherman of the Chief Rabbinic court in Jerusalem in an interview on Walla! Sherman claimed that most of the conversions in the modern era are invalid. Regev added: “His interview is yet more proof that conversion needs to be taken out of the hands of the Chief Rabbinate and rabbinic courts and recognition given to all conversions practiced in the Jewish people.”

Sherman signed off on a precedent-setting verdict from 2008 that nullified Rabbi Chaim Druckman’s conversions. In an interview with Moti Levy, Sherman said on this optic: “You have to remember that the verdict is at bottom a halakhic ruling that is founded on the words of the halakhic rulers and spiritual leaders of our generation. In the years 5744 and 5748 (1984 and 1988) opinions were issued by revered rabbinic leaders on the subject of conversions. These opinions constitute the groundwork for the verdict I issued in the matter of the conversions by Rabbi Druckman and Rabbi Avior. Therefore I have nothing to take back, because I am the emissary of sages.”

Sherman added: “All modern-era conversions in Israel and in the world, since the start of the Jewish Enlightenment period in which intermarriage began and the need for conversions arose, involve interests, and it turns out that the

an ideological stance that befits the alleyways of Mea Shearim

vast majority of the converts did not accept mitzvot at the time the conversion took place and also did not observe mitzvot afterward. The vast majority of the converts in the modern era in Israel need to undergo examination by an authorized rabbinic court before they can enter the community of Jewish people. They are not Jews for certain.”

Sherman’s statements aroused furious reactions in the political system. Knesset Member David Rotem of Yisrael Beiteinu, who promoted several laws relating to conversion, said: “When I have to choose between Rabbi Ovadia’s ruling and Rabbi Sherman’s rulings, I still give preference to Rabbi Ovadia’s rulings.” Rotem’s response was seconded by MK Rabbi Haim Amsalem, whom Sherman claimed “is not a man of halakha.” Amsalem said: “The rabbinic judge Sherman is cynically trying to buy halakhic standing at the expense of thousands of converts of the seed of Israel, whom he maims and particularly IDF soldiers who give their lives, even for him.”

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, director of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, said that, “his statements against all the conversions that took place in the Jewish people in the last 200 years show how deep is his opposition to the act of conversion.” Kariv added that, “this is an ideological stance that befits the alleyways of Mea Shearim and not the official policy of the State of Israel… The solution to the conversion crisis is to create genuine alternatives to the haredizing rabbinic establishment, that give expression to the array of streams and communities in the Jewish people.”

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