What Is The West Coast Rabbinical Court?

I think it is for Sephardic Jews. It is run by Rabbi Gavriel Cohen whose claim to fame is his ability get divorces from men reluctant to give their wife a get (Jewish divorce) so she can remarry.

I believe Rabbi Cohen can’t stand the Rabbinical Council of California.

It breaks my heart to see this dissension among Jews.

I’m a uniter, not a divider.

From the March 1, 2002 issue of the Jewish Journal:

While Reform and Conservative leaders celebrated the decision with cautious optimism, some Orthodox rabbis expressed grave concern for its implications.

Rabbi Gavriel Cohen, head of the West Coast Rabbinical Court (Beth Din) said in his opinion the decision means Conservative and Reform rabbis will need to take "a more responsible approach" in the way they perform conversions.

"They should be a lot more careful about bringing people into the Jewish nation," Cohen said. "Many times rabbis are under pressure because a person in their community wants to make sure the conversion goes through as in, ‘My son has to get married to this girl, convert her.’ They should not bow to that pressure."

Cohen said the basic minimum for any conversion should be that the convert accept the Torah and all of its laws.

"If you want to be a Jew you must accept the full commitment of the Torah. If you’re not going to, then why become Jewish?"

Rabbi Elazar Muskin of Young Israel of Century City had similar concerns.

"On the one hand, it’s a technical ruling regarding the identification cards but on the other hand it changes the status quo that has existed for 50-plus years, since Ben- Gurion decided the rabbinate should be the ones to make these decisions," said Muskin. "It’s a step backwards as far as unity is concerned because the Orthodox won’t accept it. If a conversion is halachic, everyone agrees [that the person is Jewish]. The Orthodox agree, the Conservative agree, the Reform agree. But it doesn’t work the other way around."

But Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky of B’nai David Judea argued against the mainstream Orthodox opinion, saying he believed that the power of the Orthodox rabbinate to define how religion is conducted in Israel is not productive for the Jewish people as a whole.

"As an Orthodox rabbi, I would not recognize the vast majority of Conservative and Reform converts as being Jews. In that sense, this ruling is going to create problems," he said. "But I think it is better for Israeli society at large that Conservative and Reform Judaism have the opportunity to bring secular Israelis into the religious fold. In that sense, this gives the Conservative and Reform movements a greater presence there and that is good. Israeli society will be better off when there are more expressions of Judaism to choose from."

Leder agreed. "If stringent Orthodoxy is the only religious option for Israelis, then the overwhelming majority of Israelis will continue to be secular," Leder noted. "Sensible Orthodox rabbis who want Jews to be something rather than nothing understand this."

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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