After 30 years, woman told: 'You're no Jew'


A ruling by a regional rabbinical court in Israel to retroactively cancel a women's conversion to Judaism 30 years on is causing a storm in religious circles.

The decision was made three years ago but only came to light this week after the daughter of the convert decided to appeal.

Giyurim (conversions) carried out by recognised rabbinical courts are usually regarded as final and irreversible.

However, in recent years, rabbinical judges have nullified a number of conversions, usually on the grounds that the convert did not adhere to a religiously observant lifestyle and therefore their conversion was insincere.

But even in the context of a rabbinate adopting a stricter line on conversions and the political battle over who controls the giyur process in Israel, Sarit Azulai's case, which was first reported this week by Ha'aretz, is unusual.

Ms Azulai, who was born and raised as an Israeli Jewish citizen, registered to marry in 2012 at the age of 28. Since her mother had converted to Judaism, the local religious authority decided to examine the conversion, which had been approved in 1983 by the then Chief Rabbi, Shlomo Goren.

Ms Azulai's mother was queried about her levels of observance, after which her conversion was nullified. The local Jerusalem Beth Din overseeing the case did not give reasons for the decision.

Ms Azulai found out about the ruling only two weeks before her wedding, and she had to scramble to find a rabbi who was prepared to recognise her as a Jew.

She is now planning to appeal to the High Religious Court to prevent similar problems cropping up for her children in the future. The expectation is that the court will have little choice but to overturn the ruling, since chief rabbis have spoken out against the retroactive cancellation of conversions. This will probably not be enough to prevent individual rabbis and local Batei Din from making such moves, however.

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