News Brief

The beleaguered head of Israel’s state Conversion Authority was fired.

Rabbi Haim Druckman’s contract will not be renewed when it expires at the end of next month, the Prime Minister’s Office announced May 22. The office cited the rabbi’s age, 75, as the reason — civil servants have mandatory retirement at the age of 67.

Druckman, however, already was in his 70s when he was hired four years ago.

Druckman told Army Radio that his firing was due to the government succumbing to political pressure by the fervently Orthodox, or haredim.

The High Rabbinical Court last month invalidated a conversion performed by Druckman, calling into doubt thousands of conversions performed by Druckman or performed under the authority of the Conversion Authority.

The authority was formed to ease the conversion process, especially for the many Israelis from the former Soviet Union who made aliyah under the Law of Return even though they were not Jewish according to Jewish law.

The Conference of European Rabbis announced last week that it would not recognize conversions performed by rabbis in Israel, mentioning Druckman by name.

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