The Tel Aviv Chief Rabbinate will participate in an operation to locate children born from egg donations, as these children’s religious status may come under question if the donors were not recognized as Jewish.
Ynet has learned that a private religious fertility clinic is collecting personal information about babies born through in vitro fertilization (IVF), that will be handed to rabbis so that these people could be tapped to go through a conversion process.
Religious leaders have been debating whether a child takes on the religion of their egg donor or that of the mother who carried them to term.
Since Israel does not hold proper records of these pregnancies, many of which are conceived abroad, and since egg donors may often be of other faiths, the Rabbinate had been “lenient in its interpretation and had accepted these children as Jewish.”
But now, ultra-Orthodox officials and private fertility clinics are trying to harden the existing practice and treat such children as non-Jews unless proven otherwise.
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Due to the lack of proper documentation, the Rabbinate is unable to prevent all those, whose Judaism is questioned, from marrying. The Rabbinate will try to locate that part of the population and urge people to voluntarily undergo a “proper conversion.”
Ynet has learned that the deputy head of the Tel Aviv Rabbinate is already participating in this initiative and is prepared to conduct conversions in his rabbinical court. This means he has already adopted the more stringent interpretation of religious law that will have a long-lasting effect on many Israelis.
Among those promoting this initiative is Rabbi Butbul, a Sephardi Rabbi who claims to be following the edicts of the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of the Shas Party.
“We have 7,000 to 8,000 children each year that are considered Jewish. We don’t know them, and they walk among us,” Butbul said. “At this rate, one in three secular Israelis could be born from a mixed union and without anyone knowing.”
When asked how he intends to locate in vitro children, Butbul said the Rabbinate receives medical information from medical staff at hospitals.
“Major hospitals are cooperating with us and their doctors are in daily contact with the religious fertility clinics, so we have information.”
“We can launch a grandiose operation and save the people of Israel from intermixing,” Butbul said. “With god’s help, we will set out to do the work.”