Conversion to Judaism

Publications Regarding Conversion to Judaism


Press Release

Statistical Report on Religion and State in Israel – New Chapters

The Israel Democracy Institute published new chapters of the first Biennial Statistical Report on Religion and State.


In the Footsteps of Ruth

Conversion in Israel must follow the example of Ruth so that we can extend our open arms to those seeking to join


Israel’s Rabbinate Should Welcome These Kashrut and Conversion Reforms

They do reduce the Rabbinate's centralized power, but in very different ways, which fundamentally upholds the rabbis' authority, rather than undermining it


Another Unnecessary War of the Jews

Reinforcing the Rabbinate's monopoly on conversion to Judaism places unnecessary roadblocks before those who want to join the Jewish people and deepens the rift with the Diaspora

Press Release

Proposed Conversion Law: A Recipe for Disaster

The attempt to circumvent the Supreme Court's ruling and strengthen the Rabbinate's monopoly and endanger the fragile balance in place today


Press Release

Towards a New Covenant on Religion and State in Israel: Conference

At IDI's conference Former Defense Minister MK Avigdor Liberman said he will not advance the recruitment plan he had drafted with the Ministry of Defense. "Every 18-year-old will be required to enlist."


Towards a New Covenant on Religion and State in Israel

After years of struggles over issues related to religion and state, we hereby agree to adopt a new approach, which will create a covenant to provide a new system of arrangements and agreements to strengthen the link between the Israeli public and the Jewish identity of the State of Israel.


The Chief Rabbinate of Israel vs. the Jews

Turning 1.2 million Israelis with FSU origins into a state-sanctioned punching bag is intolerable, and calls for radical and immediate change


DNA Tests for Jewishness

In today’s world of big data, it is easy to imagine what the impact would be of a single database containing information about their Jewishness—of Israelis and Jews around the world.

Israeli Voice Index

How Jewish Israelis Feel Towards Non-Jews and the Current Conversion Process – Shavuot Survey

Conversion is a central theme of the upcoming holiday of Shavuot when the biblical story of Ruth the Moabite – widely considered the first convert to Judaism – is traditionally read. In the spirit of the holiday, we decided to examine what types of relationships Jewish Israelis are ready to have with non-Jews. We also looked into what Jewish Israeli think about the topic of conversions in general and the conversion process in Israel in particular.


It is up to chief rabbis to preserve us as one people

On the practical side, religious conversion hasn’t ‘delivered the goods’ so far. Although it has been officially declared a national mission, less than 10 percent of non-Jewish immigrants and their offspring have completed the process. As a result, one in 20 non-Arab Israelis isn’t recognized as a Jew, despite having made aliyah under the Law of Return.

Press Release

Proposed Conversion Law

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


Rabbinical vs. Personal Converts to Judaism: What’s the Difference?

These two types of converts display different profiles and patterns of Jewish engagement, and both differ from the 5.1 million individuals who were born Jewish.


Israel's Battle for Peace Between Religion and State

The relationship between religion and state in Israel is stormy. Lately, it seems the ultra-Orthodox have launched a new offensive on several fronts. This op-ed was originally published by


Trump, Clinton and the King of Moab

What do the two candidates for the American presidency — Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump — have in common? Almost nothing at all — except that their children are married to Jews. This op-ed by Yedidia Stern originally appeared in the Jewish Journal. 


One Judaism, Two Nations

The Jewish people have been debating questions of Jewish identity and the definition of "who is a Jew" for thousands of years. While this debate has worn different faces and taken on different shapes at different times, it is a debate that has weighed on all sects and sectors of Jewish society. However, with the formation of the State of Israel, and especially over recent years, there is a palpable feeling that there are two nations caring out separate and different discussions. One lives and operates out of Israel; the other is overseas. This op-ed originally appeared in the Jewish Week.


Israel's New Conversion Laws Give Power to the People

The Supreme Court’s decision to recognize conversions performed by private Orthodox rabbinical courts in Israel is nothing less than a historic drama. The immediate significance is the loss of the Chief Rabbinate’s Orthodox monopoly over conversions, but it’s also a milestone in the privatization of religious services on the road to the Chief Rabbinate’s loss of relevance. Originally published by Haaretz.

Press Release

IDI President Yohanan Plesner on the Supreme Court Decision to Recognize Private Orthodox Conversions

Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) President Yohanan Plesner today responded to last week's Supreme Court decision that the state must recognize private Orthodox conversions, calling it inevitable, due to the continued failure of the state conversion institutes.

Tzav Giyur: A Coalition Promoting Conversion in Israel

IDI is part of a new forum established to promote conversion in Israel.


No to the Separation of Religion and State in Israel

Should the American model of separation of church and state be applied to Israel? In an article in <em>The Jewish Week</em>, IDI's Yair Sheleg argues that Israel needs a unique model.


Conversion in Israel: From Bethlehem to Chelm to Sodom

IDI Vice President Prof. Yedidia Stern responds to the State Comptroller's findings on conversion in Israel and calls for a solution that will enable Israelis from the former Soviet Union to join the ranks of the Jewish people.


Zionism Must Reject Ultra-Orthodox View on Conversion

In this op-ed from Haaretz, IDI Research Fellow Yair Sheleg decries the ultra-Orthodox refusal to alter standards for conversion to Judaism in recognition of the fact that for many Israelis, Jewish identity is not only an expression of religious observance but also of identification with Zionism and Jewish culture. He warns that the ultra-Orthodox approach is causing serious injustice to thousands of people who wish to live as Jews and raise Jewish children in Israel.


Who Really Cares about Converts?

On July 12, 2010, the Knesset’s Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee approved a controversial draft bill on conversion reform. Presented as an effort to make conversion more accessible to hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens who are not Jewish according to state and religious law, the proposed legislation sparked an outcry both in Israel and the Diaspora. In this article, IDI Researcher Netanel Fisher exposes the dangerous linkage between conversion and the status of Judaism's non-Orthodox movements and assesses the likelihood of the bill achieving its goals.


From Ruth to Natasha

In this article, IDI Vice President Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern explains the current conversion crisis in Israel, reviews the evolution of attitudes towards conversion in halakhic literature over the ages, and concludes with a proposal that is compatible with Jewish law while responding to pressing contemporary needs.

The Conversion Crisis: The Chief Rabbi of Israel vs. The Israel Defense Forces?!

The following op-ed by IDI Vice President of Research Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern was originally published in Hebrew in the <em>Yedioth Ahronoth</em> daily newspaper on December 8, 2010, just before the Knesset was scheduled to vote on a bill that would recognize the validity of all conversions performed within the context of the service in the Israel Defense Forces—a vote that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delayed by several days due to competing pressure within the political system. It urges the Israeli government to fend off political pressure, act morally, and assert that anyone who has converted to Judaism in the IDF is a Jew.


Conversion – Implications for Jewish Culture and Peoplehood

IDI Research Fellow Yair Sheleg argues that it is time to modify the requirements for those who wish to join the Jewish People, with the State overriding the religious establishment through legislation in order to resolve this issue, if necessary.


Conversion: Joining a Religion or Joining a Nation?

The rigid halakhic position might make conversion irrelevant as the integration of “non-Jewish Jews” into Israeli society will soon legitimize the sociological path to becoming a Jew, outside the bounds of religion, and make conversion superfluous.


What remains of the religious status quo?

Instead of Judaism being what unites Jews in Israel with Jews around the world, our religion has become the main source of conflict.