Avi Weiss Letter Vouching for American Couple Dismissed By Chief Rabbinate

Involvement with Yeshivat Chovevei Torah May Be At Fault

By JTA

Published October 17, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel rejected a letter vouching for the Jewishness of an American couple marrying in Israel written by well-known Orthodox Rabbi Avi Weiss, as well as at least 10 rabbis in other cases, The New York Jewish Week reported.

Weiss, the longtime spiritual leader of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale in New York City, told The Jewish Week that he believes his rejection was political — related to his involvement in Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, a liberal Orthodox rabbinical school he founded and led, and Yeshivat Maharat, a seminary for Modern Orthodox women.

The Chief Rabbinate previously had accepted “countless” similar letters from Weiss, the rabbi told the newspaper. Other rabbis said they were outraged by the rejection of their letters but declined to be interviewed by the newspaper. The rejections occurred over about six months.

A letter vouching for a couple’s Jewishness and singlehood has been required for decades from every couple wishing to marry in Israel.

The Chief Rabbinate decided several years ago that it would no longer automatically recognize conversions performed by Orthodox rabbis in the Diaspora, and agreed to accept those of a limited number of approved rabbinical courts, or batei din. It is believed that the Jewishness of Jews by birth in the Diaspora wishing to be married in Israel also will now require a beit din, even though, Rabbi Seth Farber of the ITIM organization noted, “Throughout Jewish history, local community rabbis have always been trusted to certify the status of their community members.”

“The rabbinate is heading in the direction where they will no longer accept any community rabbi,” Farber told The Jewish Week, “and will instead insist on rabbinical courts certifying someone’s Jewishness, a situation that is completely unmanageable in North America.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.