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Mrs. Zeidmann Officially Registered As Jewish; Inquiry Urged to Probe Religious Coercion

Mrs. Helen Zeidmann, an American-born convert to Judaism, was officially registered as Jewish today despite the fact that the supreme rabbinical court declared her conversion according to Orthodox rites invalid yesterday. The rabbinical court claimed that two of the three rabbis who officiated at the conversion were not qualified “dayanim”–rabbinical judges–and therefore they did not comprise a properly constituted rabbinical court. The two are Army chaplains who assisted Chief Chaplain Rabbi Shlomo Goren in the conversion. Two of Rabbi Goren’s colleagues on the chief rabbinate of Tel Aviv, Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Joseph and Rabbi Shlomo Mizrachi, today endorsed the conversion in the hope that their action would meet the objections of the supreme rabbinical court. A number of rabbis associated with the ultra-Orthodox Agudat Israel denounced the conversion Tuesday on grounds that Mrs. Zeidmann did not have sufficient preparation for admission to Judaism. Meanwhile Shalom Cohen, a Knesset member representing the New Left Haolam Hazeh faction, asked the Defense Minister to appoint a board of inquiry to determine whether Chief Chaplain Goren’s role in the Zeidmann conversion amounted to “military interference in civilian affairs.”

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