Professor Who Headed Conversion Probe: Check Rabbinic Court for Criminal Actions

The decision by the Supreme Rabbinic Court to nullify thousands of conversions should be checked for criminal actions, Professor Ya'akov Ne'eman told a stormy session of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee yesterday.

Ne'eman, appointed by the Netanyahu government to determine conversion policy, called on the judicial ombudwoman, Judge Tova Strasberg-Cohen, to investigate a number of "defects" - including the fact that they issued their verdict overturning the conversions of the special rabbinic conversion court - in opposition to the direct instruction of the Supreme Rabbinic Court president, Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar.

Ne'eman said the conduct of the three rabbinic court judges, headed by Rabbi Avraham Sherman, was "a political decision by three rabbinic court judges, based on their personal viewpoint, obviously invalid."

Committee Chairman MK Menahem Ben-Sasson (Kadima) said he would seek legislation to protect the conversion by the special rabbinic court. "The verdict totally destabilizes arrangements of a society that has lived together for 60 years," he said.

MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) said Ben-Sasson should have invited people to the meeting to defend the ruling.

"The High Court doesn't divide the people?" Gafni asked. "There are harsher rulings. The Constitution, Law and Justice Committee never met to discuss a ruling of the High Court that harmed Judaism."

Rabbi Haim Druckman, head of the conversion court system who was vilified in the rabbinic court's verdict, complained that his side had not been heard. "Those who do not hear all sides are not judges," he said.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann said he was initiating a bill to allow another deliberation session for important cases, which would apply to the conversion case.