Israeli rabbinical court questions authority of US rabbi who converted Ivanka Trump

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Two hundred people demonstrated outside Israel’s Supreme Rabbinical Court on July 6, 2016 to protest the Chief Rabbinate’s refusal to recognize the authority of one of the most prominent Orthodox American rabbis. Photo courtesy of Ezra Landau for ITIM

Source: Religion News Service

(RNS) Two hundred people demonstrated outside Israel’s Supreme Rabbinical Court on Wednesday (July 6) to protest the court’s refusal to recognize the authority of one of the most prominent Orthodox American rabbis.

Last month the marriage registrar at a branch of the Chief Rabbinate told an American immigrant she could not marry in Israel because her conversion to Judaism — performed by Rabbi Haskel Lookstein — did not meet the rabbinate’s standards. The rabbinate, which has adopted increasingly stringent ultra-Orthodox standards, has sole authority over Jewish marriage and divorce in Israel.

Although Israel’s two chief rabbis have since issued statements supporting Lookstein’s conversions, their statements are not binding on the Supreme Rabbinical Court, which heard the woman’s appeal Wednesday but issued no ruling.

The Jerusalem rally, the first of its kind on behalf of a U.S. rabbi, reflects American Jews’ growing disaffection with the rabbinate, a government institution that some say is trying to delegitimize diaspora rabbis and make itself the sole authority on Jewish law.

Lookstein, rabbi of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, is considered one of the most respected modern Orthodox rabbis in the world. He converted Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump’s daughter, to Judaism.

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