February 18, 2014
State wants 2-year-old to 'repeat circumcision'Interior Ministry is refusing to register a woman and her son as Jewish although Rabbinate recognized her conversion. Child is required to have blood extracted from his penis, while mother must immerse in a ritual bath in front of male judges.
by Kobi Nachshoni
Israel's Interior Ministry is refusing to recognize a woman and her toddler son as Jewish and is demanding that in addition to a full conversion, the two-year-old must undergo a "repeat circumcision."
The woman converted to Judaism in the past in one of the world's most prestigious ultra-Orthodox courts, and has already been recognized as Jewish by the Chief Rabbinate.
The Interior Ministry is insisting that the two repeat the conversion process, arguing that the woman chose to turn to a private court rather than to the national conversion system. The boy will be forced to undergo a "hatafat dam" process (to have a drop of blood extracted from the penis at the point where the foreskin was attached) and the woman will be required to immerse in a ritual bath in front of male judges – all for bureaucratic reasons.
On Tuesday, the High Court of Justice was to discuss a petition filed by the Itim association, which is helping the family in its battle for recognition. The family's representatives, attorneys Prof. Aviad Hacohen and Elad Kaplan, point to an absurd situation in which one of the State's arms, the Chief Rabbinate, confirms the conversion under its exclusive authority, while the other arm, the Interior Ministry, rejects the conversion without any authority.
The woman, A., a Peruvian national, says she became attached to the Jewish religion "without any ulterior motive" in 2006, and began learning about it with the help of an Israeli residing in Peru at the time, who is today her husband. Due to the absence of suitable Orthodox institutions in her country, she arrived in Israel in order to convert to Judaism.
Because "of foot-dragging, bureaucratic complications and inappropriate treatment to the point of humiliation," which she says she experienced in the national conversion system, A. turned to the Orthodox Lithuanian court of prominent Rabbi Nissim Karelitz in the city of Bnei Brak. In early 2011, she completed the conversion process, a year later she was recognized as Jewish by the Netanya Rabbinate, and two months later she got married according to Jewish law.
Based on the marriage certificate from the Rabbinate, the Interior Ministry registered the couple as married. Absurdly, it won't recognize A. as Jewish, although there is no dispute over the halachic validity of her conversion process. About two years ago, the couple had a son who was circumcised – but the ministry refuses to recognize him as Jewish either....