Israel Government Approves “Reform Conversion”

The government ratified in its Sunday session the compromise between Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) and Minister of Religious Services Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home), regarding conversion into Judaism.

All of the ministers in attendance voted in favor of the decision except the Jewish Home’s Uri Ariel.

The decision determines that municipal rabbis may establish conversion courts, which will receive administrative and budgetary backing from the state. A rabbinical committee whose makeup is specified in the decision will oversee the courts, which will exercise their own judgment regarding each conversion.

“In addition, the government decision includes a steering committee of rabbis that oversees the Rabbinical Courts of the city rabbis, instructs and directs them – and the Head of the Conversion Array is a member [of the steering committee]. In the law, this does not exist at all. In the bill there is also a clause that grants (conversion) rights to Reform Jews – something that has no existence at all in the government decision.”

“That is why the law is terrible,” Rabbi Druckman summed up. “We were not enthusiastic about the government decision in its present form either, but it is several times better than the bad and terrible bill. We did not propose either one, but in the existing reality, in which there was a need to establish a Beit Din [rabbinical court] of city rabbis for conversion, we preferred the government decision, which cannot even be compared to the bill. The law is bad, horrible. It will not be worth the paper it is written on. No rabbi will recognize conversion according to that law, unlike the government decision.”

The spokesman for Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef, the Chief Sephardic Rabbi, said that the decision “is not acceptable to the Chief Rabbinate because it deceives the convert and will cause the converts an injustice.” Rabbi Yosef will convene the Council of the Chief Rabbinate in its next session, to decide how to respond to the decision, he said.

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