June 30, 2017 — New York, New York
AJC is urging Israeli lawmakers to reject a bill that will fortify the Orthodox monopoly on conversions conducted in Israel. Knesset consideration of the measure is expected after the Israeli Cabinet endorsed it.
When the bill was first proposed by Israel’s Ministry of Interior, the Jewish Religious Equality Coalition (J-REC), initiated by AJC in 2014, warned that it would nullify Israel’s recognition of Reform and Conservative conversions performed in Israel, as well as overturn Israel’s High Court ruling requiring the Ministry to recognize Orthodox conversions performed by private rabbinic courts.
The proposed bill recognizes only conversions performed by the Chief Rabbinate and the rabbinical courts of Israel. As such, the proposed bill contradicts the High Court ruling in March 2016, allowing non-Israelis living in Israel who convert in private Orthodox rabbinical courts to be eligible for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return.
Reform and Conservative conversions conducted in Israel are already recognized by the Interior Ministry for the purposes of registration as Jewish in the Population Registry, but not for the purpose of obtaining Israeli citizenship.