Press Release

Proposed Conversion Law

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Prof. Yedidia Stern, Vice President of the Israel Democracy Institution said that the proposed conversion law is an important step. The state must take responsibility and resolve the issues that affect so many lives!

Prof. Yedidia Stern, Vice President of the Israel Democracy Institute and editor of the book "Conversion in Israel: Vision, Achievements and Challenges", said that the proposed conversion law submitted to the Prime Minister, "Is an important law that recognizes that the state should take responsibility when it comes to conversion. Conversion in Israel is not only a religious matter, but an integral part of Israel's immigration laws, because Jews and their relatives are automatically entitled to citizenship under the Law of Return. There are 400,000 Israelis, who immigrated from the former Soviet Union and are still not recognized as Jews in Israel. For them, their descendants and other immigrants who are in the same situation – making the conversion process more accessible is a national mission. "

Stern adds that “the proposed law balances different interests. On one hand, it breaks the Rabbinate’s monopoly over conversion in Israel, but on the other hand, it makes sure that conversion in Israel will only be done according to the "law of the Torah." While the bill means that the state will not recognize conversions of non-Orthodox denominations performed in Israel, it also means that the state will recognize non-Orthodox conversions, which have been conducted abroad under certain conditions. In addition, the proposal suggests that representatives of the various streams of Judaism will have a seat on the committee that appoints conversion judges, thus acknowledging their religious status.”

Finally, a major issue that remains undecided is the option of including municipal or town rabbis in conversion tribunals. This is an important issue because it will enable the establishment of relatively lenient courts. The wording of the proposed law in this context is vague, and it must be clarified in a way that will enable town rabbis to have their own conversion tribunals.