Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Breaking News

Avi Weiss Gets Green Light From Israel Rabbis To Vouch for Jewishness

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel will accept letters confirming individuals’ Judaism from Avi Weiss, a New York liberal Orthodox rabbi.

The Rabbinate sent a letter Wednesday to Weiss’ attorney in Israel, Assaf Benmelech, affirming that it will accept all letters from Weiss confirming the Judaism of couples who want to wed in Israel.

In October, the Rabbinate rejected such a letter from Weiss, pending an investigation into Weiss’ adherence to traditional Jewish law.

The move sparked widespread outrage that Weiss, a longtime synagogue leader in New York who had vouched for the Jewishness of many Israeli immigrants in the past, was suddenly having his reliability called into question.

JTA has also learned that Naftali Bennett, who serves both as Israel’s religious services minister and diaspora affairs minister, has been meeting since November with officials from the Orthodox Rabbinical Council of America and the Rabbinate to resolve the issue. Bennett reportedly sees the issue as one of prime importace based on the potential negative impact it could have on Israel-diaspora relations.

Weiss founded liberal Orthodox rabbinical seminary Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, and has pioneered a number of controversial innovations in the Orthodox world, most recently with his decision to ordain women as clergy through a new religious seminary called Yeshivat Maharat.

“In the decision of the Chief Rabbinate, one can see recognition of the life work of Rabbi Avi Weiss in Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and Yeshivat Maharat, and of the Halachic legitimacy of open Orthodox rabbis, who are contending with the challenges of our generation within the limits of the Halacha,” Benmelech told JTA.

Engage

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.