Conversions performed by Israeli military called invalid


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The conversions to Judaism of perhaps thousands of Israeli soldiers that were performed by the military rabbinate are not valid, a state attorney said.

The conversions are invalid, the state prosecutor told Israel’s Supreme Court justices on Monday, because they were not approved by the Chief Rabbinate and often were conducted by rabbis who are not recognized as religious court judges.

The conversion documents provided through the Israeli military only apply in cases of legal matters where the holder must be Jewish, but they cannot be used to register for a Jewish marriage, the attorney explained.

The statements were made during a court hearing to address the refusal by town and city rabbis to register converts for marriage. About 4,500 soldiers, the majority of them women, have converted to Judaism while in the military.

"The conversions are implemented precisely according to all the rules of halachah, and the rabbinic judges in the IDF are fully authorized to carry out conversions," Rabbi Haim Druckman, who served as head of the state’s Conversion Authority until 2008, told Army Radio Tuesday morning. "All of the soldiers who converted to Judaism in the IDF are real Jews." 

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