June 8th 2006
12 Sivan 5766
The Rabbinical Council of America and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel this week arrived at a most auspicious agreement with regard to matters of personal status of those coming from North America to the State of Israel, including the current and future recognition of conversions that have been or will be authorized by the Rabbinical Council of America and its affiliated Beth Din of America.
At the meeting, held in Jerusalem and attended by official representatives of both groups, a number of reciprocal understandings and agreements were reached, that taken together reaffirm the historical partnership between these two leading rabbinic institutions.
Establishment of a Joint Commission on Personal Status
• In continuation of their multifaceted existing partnership, they agreed to immediately establish a Joint Commission to examine, in light of the halachah, current standards and procedures in the realm of conversion and personal status, with a view to expanding the cooperation and partnership between the Chief Rabbinate and the Rabbinical Council of America in those areas, to achieve clarity and consistency wherever possible. The commission will complete its work and submit its recommendations to the respective organizations by the 18th of Elul 5766, i.e. 11th September 2006.
• So as to facilitate proper recognition of individual status in Israel by the Chief Rabbinate, it was agreed that the Joint Commission will, inter alia, prepare lists of approved Batei Din and rabbis in North America dealing with personal status matters. From time to time, however, the composition of the lists will be appropriately reviewed, in light of new realities and circumstances. In the future, any rabbi who wants to be involved in personal status matters that he wishes to have recognized in Israel, will need to comply with the standards thus agreed to by the Chief Rabbinate and the Rabbinical Council of America.
• In the interim, and until the recommendations of the Joint Commission will have been accepted, if there will arise specific questions regarding particular conversions, the Chief Rabbinate will investigate them together with representatives of the Rabbinical Council of America. Only after such an investigation, will the Chief Rabbinate formulate its decision in those cases.
The Status of Past and Shortly Upcoming Authorized Conversions
• It was also agreed that all conversions, authorized from the Rabbinical Council of America in the past, and as such, previously accepted by the Chief Rabbinate, will continue to be recognized by the Chief Rabbinate.
• Until the recommendations of the Joint Commission will be accepted and put in place, all conversions currently under way or shortly upcoming, that will have been authorized by the Rabbinical Council of America will be similarly recognized by the Chief Rabbinate.
Finally, and more generally, the Chief Rabbinate and the Rabbinical Council of America agreed to develop a variety of improved modalities of cooperation and communication between them, in the interests of the betterment of Jewish life in the State of Israel and Jewish communities throughout North America.