You may recall that last year the Israeli Rabbinate began rejecting the imprimatur of Rabbi Avi Weiss of Riverdale, N.Y., when it came to affirming the Jewishness of immigrants to Israel.
Now the Rabbinate is explaining why. Ynet reports:
The Chief Rabbinate of Israel has stated that due to American Rabbi Avi Weiss’ “questionable” commitment to Jewish Law, it has decided not to accept letters from him attesting to the personal status of his congregation members who seek to immigrate to Israel or get married in the country, until the matter is clarified.
This is the first time the Rabbinate provides reasons for its strict attitude towards Weiss and other liberal rabbis affiliated with the Orthodox community.
Here’s how it works: To get married in the Jewish state, you have to prove that you’re Jewish (and single). If you’re from the Diaspora, that usually means getting a letter from an Orthodox rabbi affirming that your Jewishness and marital status. (You also need a letter affirming Jewish roots if you want to immigrate to Israel, but the Interior Ministry’s criteria for immigration are not as strict as the Rabbinate’s are for marriage.)
Weiss, the longtime leader of a large Orthodox congregation in the Bronx and founder of a liberal Orthodox rabbinical school, would seem to meet the Rabbinate’s qualifications, which a spokesman outlined last year in an interview with the Jerusalem Post:
He must be ordained by a recognized Orthodox Jewish institution; he and his community must live according to Orthodox Judaism; and he must have the appropriate skills and knowledge to sign such a document.
But then Weiss got word that he and several other rabbis had been blacklisted, and a petition was filed on his behalf.
In a response to the religious-Zionist Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avodah movement, which has been supporting Rabbi Weiss’ struggle for recognition by the Chief Rabbinate, the Rabbinate said it had received testimonies from well-known rabbis in the United States, some of whom are member of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), that Weiss’ halachic opinions – reflected in different incidents and circumstances – “cast doubt on the level of his commitment to the customary and acceptable Jewish Halacha.”
Read the full story here.