Israel’s proposed international Jewish database raises red flags abroad

Source: Religion News Service

JERUSALEM (RNS) News that Israel’s religious establishment is compiling an international Jewish database will exacerbate ongoing tensions between Diaspora Jews and Israel’s ultra-Orthodox religious authorities, American rabbis warn.

The database, which an official of Israel’s Ministry of Religious Affairs announced during a European rabbis conference in March, is intended to simplify the bureaucratic marriage registration process in Israel by placing all Jews and their personal details – whether they are married, divorced, converts, the names of their rabbis – on one centralized list.

The database has hit a raw nerve outside of Israel because many Diaspora rabbis are not recognized by Israel’s Chief Rabbinate, the sole arbiter of Jewish law in Israel.

Rabbi Seth Farber fears that the database, which is presumably being compiled with the cooperation of the ultra-Orthodox Chief Rabbinate, will exclude many Jews and compromise the privacy of those on the list. Farber is director of the Jerusalem-based organization ITIM, which assists Jews who are dealing with the religious bureaucracy in Israel.

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