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!
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • 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.