Legislative Panel to Vote on Conversion Bill Sunday, Despite Chief Rabbi's Opposition

Bill's author delayed vote 'for the sake of the chief rabbis’ honor' who are concerned conversion rules not stringent enough.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation is expected to vote Sunday on a bill that would give local religious councils authority over conversions to Judaism. The draft law has the support of the coalition parties, but opposition from the chief rabbis is jeopardizing its passage.

Figures in Habayit Hayehudi said over the weekend that while they support the principle of the bill, they want to make substantive changes to the current version submitted by MK Elazar Stern (Hatnuah).

“We asked MK Stern to postpone the vote for two weeks in order to draft a government bill in coordination with the chief rabbis,” Habayit Hayehudi party whip Ayelet Shaked said last night.

Israel’s Ashkenazi and Sephardi chief rabbis, David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef, said last week that they oppose Stern’s bill because it is not sufficiently stringent on some issues of conversion. Stern emphasized last night that he planned to introduce the bill despite the chief rabbis’ announcement.

“For the sake of the chief rabbis’ honor, I will not mention how many times I met with them or the agreements we reached,” Stern said.

His bill would permit municipal rabbis - who are state employees - to establish conversion courts in their jurisdictions, and would give them full power to authorize conversions.

Ayelet Shaked at a Knesset committee meeting in May 2013.Credit: Michael Fattal

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