JERUSALEM — Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, a well-known American Orthodox rabbi, got the shock of his life a few days ago when he learned his name was on a so-called blacklist drawn up by Israel’s Chief Rabbinate.

“Never in my lifetime has my rabbinic ordination been questioned, nor any of the rabbinic documentation that I have historically provided to the Rabbinate,” Fass wrote in a widely shared Facebook post.

Although Fass, who subsequently contacted one of the chief rabbis and received “a sincere apology” and written clarification that his status “is not in question, or ever was,” he nonetheless expressed concern for the other rabbis on the list.

“How do we help the other rabbis, many of whom don’t have a personal relationship with the Chief Rabbinate and don’t have advocates within Israel (to) defend their reputations?” Fass asked.

The list, which includes the names of 160 rabbis from several countries outside Israel, is “the latest indignity suffered by Diaspora Jews at the hands of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox religious establishment,” said Rabbi Seth Farber, a Modern Orthodox rabbi and vocal critic of the rabbinate’s bureaucracy and lack of transparency.

ITIM, the organization Farber heads, obtained the document, which it calls a “blacklist,” under Israel’s Freedom of Information Law.

Many American Jews hold Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responsible for what they consider the rabbinical establishment’s growing influence in the public sphere.

Last month, under pressure from his ultra-Orthodox coalition partners, Netanyahu backtracked on the cabinet’s promise to create a pluralistic prayer space at the Western Wall that would be on par with the existing Western Wall and maintained by liberal Jews.

The same week, a cabinet committee approved a bill — now frozen — that would ban private conversions and grant the rabbinate sole authority to perform conversions in Israel.

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman called these actions a “double blow” …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News

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