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Israeli Rabbinical Court Overturned the Conversion of an American Couple

The Rabbinical Court in Netanya canceled a conversion of a couple the US, whom they claim to have converted to Judaism thirty years ago.

A woman who requests to approve her Jewish status, after her parents claimed to have converted to Judaism 30 years ago, was rejected by Netanya District Court because the court that converted the mother was not recognized by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, Srugim reported Sunday.

The plaintiff appealed the Rabbinical Court on the grounds that the rabbinic court that converted her parents was, in fact, Orthodox, and therefore her conversion is valid and there is no possibility of canceling the conversion.

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The case had moved from Netanya to the Rabbinical High Court in Jerusalem and back to Netanya for reconsideration.

It turned out that the applicant was the daughter of Christian-born parents. Her father was a Baptist minister. According to her parents, they converted in 1984 in Tampa court in Florida.

“Srugim” reports that the judges, Rabbis Shlomo Shapira (head of the court), Avraham Meisels, and Raphael Ben Shimon, looked more deeply into the case and found out some interesting news.

After the plaintiff’s parents converted to Judaism they got a Jewish married and made Aliyah, following which the woman was born. The plaintiff presented a document titled “Certificate of Acceptance into the Jewish Faith,” with three signatures. The Netanya court concluded that the document was not recognized by then Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, and thus cannot be used to confirm plaintiff’s Jewish status.

The Netanya court approved that the converting rabbi in Tampa had received his ordination some 60 years ago, but it wasn’t clear from whom.

The same Rabbi then served at a Reform Temple for 50 years. He had ordained one of the co-judges in the conversion, and they added a third judge who had no rabbinic qualifications, according to Srugim. The court was, in fact, assembled just for that conversion.

In addition, the court in Netanya has been investigating with Rabbi Yossie Dubrovsky, who has been serving as director of the Chabad House in Tampa, Florida, for the past 40 years.

According to him, there had been no kosher mikvah in southern Florida at the time, nor was it possible to maintain a halakhic lifestyle in her parents’ residential area.

The Netanya court then discovered that the plaintiff’s father established and lead a virtual village called Netzarim.

The website Netzarim, states: “The real content is in the ‘Netzarim Quarter’ where you’ll learn about Historical Ribi Yehoshua and his original, Jewish, followers before the great Roman-Hellenist apostasy of 135 C.E.—and even more importantly, how you (whether Jew or non-Jew) can follow the historically true, Judaic, Ribi Yehoshua. In Hebrew, his original followers were called the Netzarim (Hellenized to “Nazarenes”).”

The court also examined the Aliyah documents of the plaintiff’s parents and found that the Ministry of the Interior file does not mention the fact that they were discovered. Therefore, it raises suspicion that they did not declare at all that their Judaism is a conversion process that is not recognized according to the standards of the Ministry of the Interior. The court noted that the parents of the applicant and the applicant can not be recognized as Jews under the Civil Law, which determines the conditions for recognizing a person entitled to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return and therefore were not entitled to Israeli citizenship.

Therefore, the court decided that “the applicant is not Jewish, and her name must be included in the list of those detained for marriage.” The Court also ordered that the judgment be handed over to the Ministry of the Interior for action to revoke the Law of Return-based privileges of everyone involved.

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