Israeli conversion bill approved for second and third readings

Israeli Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on Wednesday approved the conversion reform bill authored by Hatnuah MK Elazar Stern for a second and third reading.

The haredi community is outraged over the bill, which would see the conversion process in Israel carried out in local rabbinical courts, as opposed to the current system in which only four courts in the country are authorized to perform conversions to Judaism.

In response to the bill's approval Wednesday, Israel's chief rabbis wrote a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Religious Services Minister Naftali Bennett saying, "The advancement of this law may split the nation of Israel into many camps."

Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef held a meeting Wednesday with national religious rabbis who also oppose the bill and said, "God forbid we end up in a situation in which we have to keep track of everyone's [conversion] pedigree."

A senior Shas party official said Wednesday that "if the conversion bill passes in its [current] format, then within a few months, there will be an alternate rabbinate."

Posted on March 20, 2014 .