US/World News

Conversion by NY’s Rabbi Haskel Lookstein ruled invalid in Israel

(JNS.org) Israel’s Supreme Rabbinical Court has rejected a conversion made by prominent American Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, reaffirming a lower court ruling. Lookstein also converted Ivanka Trump, the daughter of presumptive U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, before her marriage to Jared Kushner. The case in question involved an American woman named Nicole, 31, who appealed an earlier decision not to recognize her conversion to Judaism in Israel. Like Ivanka Trump, Nicole went through an Orthodox conversion in New York through Lookstein. The court denied her appeal despite a letter in support of Lookstein by Israeli Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau, and also despite the fact that Nicole agreed to a compromise through which she would undergo an expedited conversion, known as “giyur l’chumra,” so that she and her Jewish fiancee could get married.

“This is a sad day for the converts and this is a sad day for the relations between the State of Israel and the United States Jewry….Our struggle is not over and we intend to continue the fight until the Chief Rabbinate will recognize the United States rabbis and take a more welcoming approach to their converts,” said Rabbi Dr. Seth Farber, head of the ITIM organization, which represented Nicole and Lookstein during the case.

“We are deeply saddened by the Supreme Rabbinical Court’s decision to refuse recognition of conversions by Rabbi Lookstein, a revered spiritual leader in our community,” said Eric S. Goldstein, CEO of the UJA-Federation of New York. “This egregious decision undermines the authority of all diaspora rabbis, will cause much needless suffering, and further frays the bonds between world Jewry and Israel.”

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