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Israeli Government Dumps Conversion Reform

The Israeli Cabinet voted today to dump plans to overhaul the country’s regulations on conversions to Judaism which had been approved by Binyamin Netanyahu’s last government.

The religious zionist “Bayet Tehudi” Party was the only one to vote against the decision.

The bill, which would have allowed the individual chief rabbis of Israeli cities to take responsibility for conversions on a local level, and away from the national rabbinate, was originally proposed during the last government led by Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud Party which lasted from 2013-2015. But that coalition had no ultra-orthodox parties in it and two secular parties which are no longer in the governing coalition.

Netanyahu was forced to include the ultra-orthodox parties in his new government and dropping the conversion reform was a stipulation that they made during the coalition talks. This will affect an estimated 364, 000 Israeli citizens who are not technically Jews in accordance with Jewish law and who were hoping to have an easier time converting so that they would be classified as Jews under Israeli law.

But that was not all. The Israeli cabinet also voted to transfer authority over the rabbinical courts from the Justice Ministry – which is currently controlled by Bayit Yehudi’s member Ayelet Shaked who serves as Israel’s Justice Minister- to the Haredi non-zionist Shas party.

Since Binyamin Netanyahu has a very tenuous coalition which has a majority of only one seat in the Israeli Knesset, it will be difficult for him to govern should he continue to alienate the Bayit Yehudi party.



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