Israel's Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Says He Recognizes U.S. Rabbi's Conversions

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Chief Rabbi David Lau in his Modi'in home. June 27, 2013. The smiling rabbi stands in front of his library of Judaica.
Chief Rabbi David Lau. Credit: Gil Cohen-Magen

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau said he recognizes conversions performed by prominent Orthodox rabbi, Haskel Lookstein, the Haredi Orthodox newspaper Kikar HaShabbat reported on Tuesday.

A rabbinical court in the central Israel city of Petach Tikvah in April rejected the conversion of a woman converted by Lookstein when she applied for marriage registration with her Israeli fiancé.

Lookstein is the former rabbi of Kehilath Jeshurun, a tony modern Orthodox synagogue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side that counts Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner as members. Trump, daughter of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, converted under Lookstein’s auspices in 2009.

Lau said in a letter to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and opposition leader Isaac Herzog, in response to their letter offering to personally vouch for Lookstein that Israel’s Chief Rabbinate recognizes Lookstein’s conversions, and that the rejection of the woman’s conversion was made by the individual rabbinical court.

On Wednesday, an appeal of the case will come before the Supreme Rabbinical Court. Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yosef Lau will preside over the hearing and reportedly will deliver a decision at the end of the proceedings.

A demonstration against the chief rabbinate is scheduled to be held near the rabbinate’s offices at the time of the morning hearing.

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