Rabbi Riskin Clarifies: Converts Must Keep Torah Commandments

August 17, 2015  

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin responded to reports Monday that some of the rabbis on the new independent conversion courts do not require converts to obligate themselves to a full religious lifestyle. 

Riskin, the Chief Rabbi of Efrat, was named by Haaretz as one such rabbi who recognizes converts who commit to a “traditional” lifestyle in place of the Orthodox lifestyle demanded of them by the Chief Rabbinate. 

“The headlines do not match my words,” Riskin stressed. “I am all for observance of the commandments and the genuine and meaningful process that leads to it.” 

“My position is that the convert, like all Jews, is in a constant and life-long process of learning and deepening [his knowledge] of the Torah, halakha and the commandments,” he added. 

According to Riskin, “construing my position in any other way is misleading and a simplistic interpretation that ignores the many layers and nuances of the issue.”

Rabbi David Stav, head of the Tzohar organization and a key rabbi leading the new independent courts, told Arutz Sheva on Sunday that “our court doesn’t move a millimeter from the instructions of the Torah greats in their various generations, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, Rabbi (Yitzhak) Herzog, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.”

“Those that are defaming us today, supposedly in the name of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, instead of conducting a fair dialogue, are guilty of slander, as was done to Rabbi (Shlomo) Goren and Rabbi (Avraham Yitzhak) Kook.”

“There are people here who really want their children to be Jewish, and I hope the day is not far when (Chief Sephardic) Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef will also recognize our court which works according to the halakhic minutiae, and will invite us to work under the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate,” said Rabbi Stav.

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