May 27, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
May 27, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Conversion Reforms Target ‘Very Soul’ of the Jewish People

(Israel Hayom via JNS) Lawmakers from Israel’s ultra-Orthodox parties harshly criticized Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana over his planned conversion reform.

“The destruction and devastation of the Chief Rabbinate and Jewish religion that ‘Religious Destruction Minister’ Matan Kahana leads is unprecedented. The conversion system is the very soul of the Jewish people and harming it would lead to vast assimilation,” said Shas Knesset member Yoav Ben-Tzur.

Yakov Margi, also from Shas, concurred. “They’ve learned nothing from the Reform movement and how it destroyed a large part of the Jewish people. Due to mass assimilation, since the terrible Holocaust we have not grown numerically. We have lost no fewer Jews to assimilation than to the Holocaust.”

As part of the proposed legislation, municipal rabbis will be able to establish conversion courts to allow them to act to convert tens of thousands of Israelis who are of Jewish descent but are not Jewish according to halacha. These municipal rabbis will establish local courts, and a rabbinical committee will be established that will formulate procedures for local associations.

One of the most volatile issues is the question of whether to authorize municipal rabbis to convert minors. The conversion of minors will see thousands of people brought quickly into the Jewish community and has been met with opposition from conservative elements.

To ensure the state conversion system and the Chief Rabbinate maintain control of the process, Israel’s chief rabbis and the Chief Rabbinate Council will be authorized to revoke the appointment of a conversion court justice in a regulated process. The chief rabbi would be able to recommend the rabbinical committee revoke the authority of a judge who deviates from procedure, and following the committee’s recommendation, the Chief Rabbinate Council would revoke that judge’s authority.

The bill, which Kahana plans to bring to a vote in the coming weeks, was reached in close coordination with prominent rabbinical elders from the religious Zionist community, chief among them Rabbi Haim Drukman, Rabbi Yaaqov Medan, Rabbi Re’em Ha’Cohen and Rabbi Eitan Eisman.

Labor MK Gilad Kariv, who is also a Reform rabbi, welcomed “the end of the conversion monopoly in Israel.”

He stressed that “the condition for any further legislation in this matter is that it would not harm the recognized status of non-Orthodox converts. The proposed outline deals with conversion procedures that take place within the framework of the Orthodox rabbinical establishment alone. Given the Chief Rabbinate’s strict policy on this matter in recent decades, it is doubtful whether its continued control over the conversion institutions will allow for a real breakthrough.”

The religious services minister emphasized the purpose of the reform is not to facilitate conversion that goes against Orthodox Jewish law.

“I am convinced that conversion must be according to Jewish law and include the acceptance of the burden of mitzvahs,” said Kahana.

Kahana said he nevertheless believes the establishment of municipal courts will make the process much easier for potential converts.

“We want to find ways to help them, to establish courts that see converts as an asset and as [having] potential—an active conversion system that courts Israelis of Jewish descent that will return to the Jewish people,” he said.

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles