American, Israeli rabbis reach conversion deal


American Orthodox rabbis reached an agreement with the Israeli Chief Rabbinate on conversion.

The Rabbinical Council of America, the main umbrella group of Modern Orthodox rabbis, announced Tuesday that it had established a network of North American rabbinical courts for conversion that is recognized by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate.

The agreement brings to a close a longstanding dispute that had led Israel’s Sephardic chief rabbi, Shlomo Amar, to announce that the rabbinate would no longer recognize any conversions performed outside Israel.

An agreement appeared to be in reach last year, but the RCA canceled a news conference to announce the accord at the last minute after a report appeared saying the Israeli rabbinate intended to retain the right to authorize all rabbis wishing to perform conversions.

Under the new deal, the rabbinate has authorized some 15 courts and 40 rabbis to perform conversions. New courts wishing to perform conversions would be required to undergo a vetting process overseen by the RCA, with final approval given by two leading rabbis at Yeshiva University, Hershel Schachter and Mordechai Willig, in consultation with a representative of the Chief Rabbinate.

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