I am referring to a very disturbing post that was written under a banner called Emes Ve-Emunah. And the post begins with these very same words: What a disgrace!
Now, I can't say that it's the most disgraceful post that I have seen in that forum, but it certainly ranks with the all-timers. For here, once again, he lambasts an observant religious authority for (shame of shames) DOING HIS JOB. (One of the first times that I had to deal with this methodology was in this post:
Because of Kamtza and Bat Kamtza was the House Destroyed)
But the amazing thing is, in order to accomplish this, he distorts and misrepresents the facts that are already distorted and misrepresented in the press. And by further distorting what is already distorted, it becomes his holy crusade to malign what he calls "the orthodox establishment". Yep, you heard me right, folks. He has graduated from the chareidim (those violent thugs) to the "orthodox establishment".
And I have come (and stayed up very late tonight) to clean up the mess.
The first step is to check out Rabbi Maryles' source material to see what the article really says.
Did you like the line: "Zionism runs in my family," the Detroit native says?
Second, let us try to understand what went on in view of how things work in Eretz Yisrael. One point of introduction:
A Rabbanut or, more accurately, a Moetzet HaDati (Religious Counsel), in any given municipality is an office that oversees the religious needs of the locality. This includes shuls, mikvaos, eruvin, and kashrus, and registry for weddings, divorces and funerals. They may or may not also have a Beit Din but they are not a Beit Din themselves. They are an office!! Even if they have a Beit Din, the local Beit Din may be qualified for only certain issues (such as a Beit Din for mammonus - monetary disputes) and not for more complicated issues. The people that work there are generally devout people but they may or may not be rabbanim.
Once we know this, let us analyze the article:
Here is a young American woman who approaches a municipal Rabbanut (which is not a court) to receive an approbation for marriage. The article claims that she brought letters from 4 Conservative (i.e. non-Orthodox) Rabbis and one Chabad (presumably Orthodox, but don't get me started...). At the same time, it states that:
...her parents are divorced and she can no longer provide their ketuba (Why not? - YH). The facts that her parents' get, or bill of divorce, was prepared by a Conservative rabbi (i.e., if he, and or any witness, is a mechallel Shabbos b'farhesiya, the get is invalid - YH) and that her mother has since remarried a Catholic (i.e., she is a mumar l'avoda zarah - YH)...
Allegedly, the fellow who was in charge of the registry (not a dayan) did not feel that the letters that she brought were acceptable. The article doesn't say why, but it could very well be that he was not authorized to accept them (as we shall see). For the record, when I made Aliyah, I also needed a letter from a Rabbi that I am Jewish. The letter I presented said nothing more than, "I know these people to be proper Jews...". It really did not offer much convincing proof, except perhaps that the Rabbi who wrote it was Orthodox. I did have my wife's Kesuba. It just may be because I wasn't related to Nachum Sokoloff that I had such an easy time.
Back to our incident, according to the article, the registry fellow demanded that she produce the Kesubos of matriarchs up 4 generations. I personally don't believe this. I think she is dramatizing. Nobody needs to present all of that documentation (note that her fiance's papers were fine and I will bet my rent money he didn't produce kesuvos from 4 generations up). But one may be required to present at least some of it. My gut feeling is he would have been satisfied with one or two generations if she could even do that.
But she couldn't.
She couldn't come up with her own mother's kesuba nor either of her grandparents who survived the Holocaust, nor their death certificates, nor her mother's birth certificate. At least, not on the spot.
I must reiterate that it is clear from this article that our subject (Miss Hillary) was dealing with a registry office and not a Beit Din. As a registry offfice, it has rules as to what it can accept on its own as proof of being Jewish and what it must refer to a higher body (i.e., a Beit Din that is qualified in this area). All this is for the common good, so that we can ensure that people who claim to be Jewish really are and thus to protect the integrity of Jewish identity (for those who value it).
So the fellow (not a dayan, remember?) did what he was supposed to do - he referred her to the Beit Din. That was his job. The article (if Rabbi Maryles would have read it) says so:
The Chief Rabbinate recently enacted new guidelines automatically sending marriage candidates whose parents did not wed in Israel to a local rabbinical court to determine whether they are really Jewish.The fact is that everybody needs to do this. My own daughter got married last year. Both she and her chosson come from FFB families all the way up the line. But neither me nor my mechutanim were married here. So they needed to procure letters from their Yeshiva and seminary plus give information on who are their Chosson/Kallah-lessons teachers and bring them to Beit Din for an Ishur. It's not a big deal if you are genuinely Jewish and genuinely observant. Ironically, they did it through the "ultra-Orthodox" Eida Chareidis bes din because there was less red tape than to do it through the Rabbanut!!
Now, our hero Ms. Hillary also needed to go to Beit Din. Those are the rules. But she refused to do it. I bet she could come up with some of that documentation if she really wanted to, but it's easier to blame the hard-hearted extemists who are doing their job and to honeymoon off to Cyprus.
"At this point, I no longer want to play (be) [by] their rules. I want to fight what they're doing," Rubin, who observes Shabbat and keeps kosher, said...Rubin and her fiance' - whose documents were accepted by the rabbinate as valid proof of Jewishness - did not even want to try to convince the rabbinical court that she is a Jew...The young couple believes the consequences of going through the rabbinical court are "much worse" than not going at all. (Emphasis mine - YH)
So the "observant" Jewish girl doesn't want to go to Beis Din!? They stand to come out worse than if they "try to convince the rabbinical court"... !!
Why? What is she hiding?
This kind of behavior does not look good on her resume. Actually, it's downright suspicious.
But Harry Maryles calls this event "A disgrace." To Harry Maryles, to send somebody with a checkered past to Beit Din to check out their Jewishness is a disgrace (note that Harry never even mentioned that they were sent to Beis Din as are the rules, only that the registrar at the Rabbanut which he erroneously called a "rabbinical court" did not give the approbation that he is not authorized to give).
To get a clearer picture, let us check out some of what Harry wrote in light of what we know (his words are in burgundy):
But I also charge the current orthodox establishment in Israel with treating fellow Jews with contempt in the name of religion.
I don't know why guidelines equally applied are called "contempt".
I refer to the case of Hillary Rubin. She is a grandchild of the holocaust. Her grandparents were gassed by the Nazis. (Update - RHM apparently edited his post. It now reads: Her grandparents are survivors of the Holocaust. I wonder what tipped him off?)
No, her grandparents survived the Holocaust - all four of them. They are required by Halacha to have kesuvos even if they were married before the war and their original kesuvos were lost.
She now lives in Israel and is an observant Jew.
Ready to undergo a Conservative marriage.
But when it came time for her to get married, she was told by the by a rabbinical court in Herzliya (Update - the words in italics were edited to: Herzliya rabbinate.)
The article did not say that the Rabbanut in Herzliya is a rabbinical court.
that she needed to bring the Kesuvos (religious marriage contracts) of grandmothers going back 4 generations to prove her Jewishness.
The problem is that any such documentation was destroyed in the holocaust. She cannot provide any such proof.
How about the grandmothers who survived the holocaust? they still need kesuvos?
The fact that she brought letters of testimony from 5 people one of whom was a Chabad rabbi made no difference to them.
You mean, made no difference to him. It wasn't a court. He wasn't a dayan.
Neither did the fact that it was impossible for her to provide documentation they asked for due to the holocaust.
Perhaps not all of it, but how about some of it?
I understand the issues involved. One must be Jewish to get married to another Jew. If there is any doubt about it it needs to be proven.
Can you repeat that last line?
In our day where heterodox movements are doing conversions that are not in accordance with Halacha and in one instance accepts patrilineal descent as equally determining one Jewishness – it can be a problem. It is quite reasonable to ascertain the Jewish status of an individual that was so defined by a heterodox movement and not born Jewish via matrilineal descent.
But how far do we go with that? When is a rabbinical court justified in insisting on impossibly draconian demands like those made upon Ms. Rubin? (Update - or, rather, no update. Here he hasn't bothered to change the text)
Again with the Rabbinical court??
She had two parents that were Jewish,
How do you know?
grandparents that were murdered by the Nazis in the holocaust, (Update - this line modified)
Her grandparents survived.
and she had testimony from at least one kosher witness - a Chabad Rabbi.
Do you know what his "testimony" was actually attesting to?
And why stop there? We are all suspect, are we not? Who is to say that our parents were really Jews without proof going back 4 generations? My grandparents died in the holocaust too. My parents told me they were Frum. But that is the sum and substance of my proof. I have no clue or proof whether my maternal great-great grandmother was Jewish. Why should my children be treated any differently than Ms. Rubin was?
Did your wife marry a catholic?
Why should anyone’s children be treated differently?
Did you read the part about the guidelines?
But we are. Those of us who are raised Frum are assumed to be Jewish. I doubt that any one of us were ever required to bring any proof at all about it.
Keep doubting. Nevertheless, people who keep Torah and mitzvos - what we call "Kosher yidden" - have a chezkas kashrus.
But those of us who are not in this category –
Peolple who do not keep Torah and mitzvos - and are children of women who are "mumar l'avoda zarah" do not have a chazkas kashrus.
if things keep going in this direction – will be written out of Judaism!
This is a grossly unfair approach
Please explain why it is unfair.
which serves to destroy Heterodoxy by destroying the lives of non Orthodox Jews. These are not honorable intentions. They are divisive and destructive ones. I realize there is an increasing ‘Jewish status’ problem. But prejudicial treatment of non Orthodox Jews is not the way to solve the problem.
As long as they are actually Jewish, but how do we know this without a chezkas kashrus?
Unless all Jews are subjected to the same standards
Did you read the part about the guidelines?
- no one should be. Unless a serious question is raised about a questionable conversion or there is some evidence that one is not Halachicly Jewish, most Jews have a Chezkas Kashrus and should be presumed to be Jewish.
a chezkas kahrus is based on being Shomer Torah and mitzvos.
The vast majority of Conservative Jews no matter how religious or secular were born of a Jewish mother.
The vast majority don't marry catholics.
It is grossly unfair to treat our fellow Jews this way just because they were not raised in an Orthodox home. Ms. Rubin - whose parents are Jewish;
whose grandparents were massacred in the holocaust, (Update - again, modified)
and who had a letter from a Kosher witness testifying to her Judaism -
No idea what the letter said
And the court that rejected her Judaism –
The court didn't reject her Judaism - she refused to go to court.
asking her to do the impossible –
nobody has to do the impossible
reveals the true motive of these rabbis. It is to eliminate ‘lesser Jews’ from our ranks.
Batei Dinim are here to help people, not hurt them.
Rabbi Maryles, I am appalled. You are fanning the flames of divisiveness instead of cooling things down. Instead of fortifying the legitimate actions of the Herzliya Rabbanut (trust me, this is not the Eida Charedis), and simply trying to help the
disoriented unoriented to understand what the issue is, how the process works, and why it is important - the part that you go out of your way to play down! - you feel you are doing a better service to Klal Yisrael by standing up for the girl who refuses to go to Beit Din and criticizing the fellow who sent her there. Perhaps you grew up in Detroit but the fellow from Herzliya did not. He has no idea who she is. And she can't even (or refuses to) produce one kesuva! To some of us, the standards of yuchsin are precious. And without these standards, it will one day have to apply to your (or my) children.
ought not to be allowed to stand.
What a disgrace!