yated neeman - Tomer Appelbaum - Febuary 6, 2007
Yated Neeman newspaper. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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The Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox journal Yated Neeman launched a direct attack on Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, an adjudicator of religious law and spiritual leader of the political party Shas, over his decision to confirm that conversions to Judaism performed by military rabbis are legal from a religious standpoint.

The Yated Neeman article said that Yosef's decision was shocking, a "desecration of God's name," and an inversion of clear decisions of religious law which will likely lead to "increased danger of major assimilation among the people of Israel."

The Lithuanian Haredi journal called Yosef a 'rabbi,' and not 'Maran' – master teacher – or 'Harav HaGaon' – genius rabbi – as it generally refers to Haredi rabbis, even those of other lesser status.

The Yated Neeman article quotes anonymous senior judges and rabbis that attack Yosef's decision, saying that IDF conversions are the very opposite of what is required according to religious law. Yated Neeman is considered to be the personal mouthpiece of the Lithuanian Haredi Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliashiv.

Shas Religious Services Minister Yaakov Margi commented to the attack on Sunday morning, saying that it is a waste of time to respond to Yated Neeman, calling the newspaper "five grams of filth."

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef had issued a ruling on Friday approving conversions officiated by the Israel Defense Forces, following the inability of a specially appointed rabbinic panel to reach an agreement concerning the 4,000 or so controversial conversions.

Yosef said following his ruling that his decision was informed by his own knowledge and experience with the military rabbinate.