Israeli High Court Decision on Conversions Welcomed by Advocacy Groups

Religious groups come out in favor of the High Court decision that affirmed thousands of conversions previously in danger of being overturned.

Rabbi Dr. Seth Farber, chairperson of Itim, an advocacy organization that provides free consulting and information on issues related to the Jewish lifecycle, including the conversion process, released a statement in response to the High Courts decision to uphold conversions performed by Rabbi Haim Druckman.

We are happy to see that the High Court of Justice has upheld our claim, and hope that this ruling will serve as a cry of support for those in the middle of the conversion process, as well as anyone considering it. Let us hope that this ruling will put an end to the phenomenon of unrecognized conversions, and do away with the continuing sorrow converts are forced to endure, read the statement.

Rabbi Haim Druckman - Emil Salman - April 27, 2012
Emil Salman

Another statement, released by the organization Ne'emanei Torah Va'Avodah, a religious Zionist organization that aims to return Religious Zionism to its roots, also supported the High courts ruling.

Let us hope that this ruling, handed down just after Independence Day, will symbolize a general change in the way the government relates to the conversion process. Instead of conversion policy being decided by the views of extremist judges, not Zionists in the best case, and anti-Zionists in the worse, conversion policy should be determined by national officials, such as Rabbi Druckman, read the statement.

The High Court of Justice has affirmed the validity of thousands of conversions called into question by the Rabbinical Court of Appeals in 2008, but refused to discuss the rabbinical courts' authority to annul conversions in general.

The Rabbinical Court of Appeals rode roughshod over basic procedural rules and the principles of natural justice," wrote former Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch in Tuesday's verdict. "It demonstrated contempt for the special conversion courts, and above all, it hurt and did a shocking injustice to the petitioners and their children."

The petition was filed by two Israeli women whose conversions were retroactively overturned by the rabbinical courts in 2007 and 2008, 15 years after the conversions had been recognized by the state. As a result, they and their children were retroactively declared non-Jewish.

In both cases, the rabbinical courts annulled the conversions while discussing the women's divorce proceedings, and their decisions were later upheld by the Rabbinical Court of Appeals.