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Woman Converted by Haskel Lookstein Gets New Rabbinic Hearing

JERUSALEM — The Supreme Rabbinical Court in Israel wants to hear for the second time in a week from a woman whose conversion by a prominent U.S. rabbi was rejected.

The court delivered a summons to the woman on Monday for a hearing Wednesday in her appeal of the rejection by the Petach Tikvah Rabbinical Court.

In the first hearing, on July 6, the Supreme Rabbinical Court appeared to side with the Petach Tikvah court that the U.S. rabbi, Haskel Lookstein, is not recognized by the State of Israel to perform conversions, The Jerusalem Post reported. The conversion was rejected in April, when the woman applied for marriage registration with her Israeli fiancé.

Israeli Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau said prior to the appeal that he recognizes conversions performed by Lookstein, the former rabbi of Kehilath Jeshurun, a tony modern Orthodox synagogue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side that counts Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, as members. Trump, a daughter of the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, converted under Lookstein’s auspices in 2009.

Rabbi Seth Farber, the head of Itim, an organization that helps Israelis navigate Israeli religious bureaucracy and is assisting the woman in her appeal, said “It’s time to stop torturing the convert.”

“We stand behind our opinion that there was not even a pinch of reasoning behind the verdict given by the Petach Tikvah Rabbinical Court to not recognize Rabbi Lookstein’s conversions,” the statement said, “and we call upon the Supreme Rabbinate Court not to take in this war of attrition and allow this convert, and many other who converted by halacha with Orthodox rabbis in the Diaspora, to marry and lead a full Jewish life in Israel.”

About 200 demonstrators protested next to the offices of the Chief Rabbinate during the July 6 hearing.


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