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Rabbinic Authority

Problem

In recent years, Israel’s Chief Rabbinate has increasingly rejected the authority of non-Israeli rabbis from all streams of Judaism to perform conversions, and to vouch for their congregants’ Jewish identities when they immigrate to or marry in Israel. The Rabbinate operates without clearly defined criteria for accepting the authority of non-Israeli rabbis, or accountability for its decisions. Its exclusionary approach has damaged the reputations of approximately 2,000 rabbis around the world, has precluded non-Israeli couples from marrying in Israel, has prevented immigrants and children of immigrants from gaining official Jewish status, and has harmed the relationship between Israel and the rest of the Jewish world.

ITIM Achievements

  • Exposed a list of non-Israeli rabbis whose religious authority the Chief Rabbinate has rejected
  • Challenged the Rabbinate to develop and make public the list of criteria it uses to recognize the authority of non-Israeli rabbis
  • Represented non-Israeli rabbis before the Chief Rabbinate and in the Knesset
  • Filed Freedom of Information requests and court petitions to publish lists of rabbis whose authority the Rabbinate accepts and those it rejects

Current Activities

The ITIM Legal Center currently is working to improve the exclusionary criteria for the recognition of rabbis the Chief Rabbinate issued in 2019, and to overturn the Rabbinate’s call for applications for approval–an attempt to create one world body of religious Jewish authority, which we believe represents a gross overreach of authority, and runs counter to Jewish history and Jewish life.

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