Conversion body was ‘a failure’

By Anshel Pfeffer, June 5, 2008

The Israeli Civil Service Authority has described the Conversion Directorate in a special report as “failing in a national mission” by not succeeding in boosting the number of conversions in Israel over the past decade.

The directorate’s head, Rabbi Haim Drukman, dismissed two weeks ago by the Prime Minister’s Office, hit back at the findings, insisting that “the report is warped and maliciously targeted against me and my deputy.

“We never committed ourselves to numbers and this is a travesty of the whole issue.”

The Conversion Directorate was set up ten years ago to find a solution for 300,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union, not Jewish according to halacha but granted citizenship according to the Law of Return.

According to the report, only 8,411 were converted over the past decade and the rate of conversion declined four years ago after Rabbi Drukman was appointed to head the directorate. The report cited bad relations within the directorate, a lack of proper hierarchy and a waste of resources as reasons for the directorate’s failure.

Rabbi Drukman was dismissed ostensibly for reaching the retirement age, but a source in the Prime Minister’s Office said: “They are special cases of officials who are allowed to continue after retirement age, but Rabbi Drukman simply didn’t supply the goods.”

Last updated: 10:29am, June 5 2008