Rabbinate's monopoly over Jewish marriage cerification must end
Jerusalem — In a slap in the face to diaspora rabbis, the Israeli Chief Rabbinate has rejected the word of one of American Jewry’s most well-known Orthodox rabbis, who in a letter was attesting to the Jewishness and single status of an American Jewish couple wishing to marry in Israel, The Jewish Week has learned.Needless to say, that was a very stupid thing to do, caving to their monopoly, as it also affects conversions for decent people in Europe; it's not just in America where this should be a concern.
The rejection of the letter written by Rabbi Avi Weiss, longtime spiritual leader of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, appears to be the Chief Rabbinate’s latest attempt to be the sole arbiter of “Who is a Jew” — not only in Israel but in the diaspora as well.
Several years ago the Chief Rabbinate secretly decided it would no longer automatically recognize conversions performed by Orthodox rabbis in the diaspora. That decision led to a standoff with the Orthodox establishment in the U.S., which ultimately relented to the rabbinate’s demands to establish regional conversion courts and to severely limit the number of rabbis who can perform conversions.
This latest case may have something to do with Weiss and company's wish to allow for female Orthodox rabbis (or rebbetzin, as is the title for a female equivalent) to work within the sect, something that's actually a great idea, as even women following Orthodoxy could use a motherly/big sister/mentor figure.
The government would do well to prove their willingness to help the rabbis and converts who've been slighted, because otherwise unreliable papers like Haaretz have spoken about this, and it's not helping to let them monopolize the subject. This is a serious matter, and cannot be taken lightly.