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Israeli High Court: Private conversions recognized for citizenship

Landmark ruling means rabbinate will no longer have sole control over who can be recognized as a Jew for citizenship purposes in Israel; Marriages conducted in non-state Orthodox courts to be officially recognized


A panel of nine high Court judges led by Supreme Court President Miriam Naor ruled on Thursday that the country must officially recognize privately conducted Orthodox conversion to Judaism performed in Israel, and that such converts are eligible for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return.

The decision means Israel’s Chief Rabbinate will have a less essential role in Orthodox conversions, which can now be held in private Orthodox courts. Chief Justice Miriam Naor said limiting recognition of marriages weakens the Law of Return.

The decision was reached by a majority, with Justice Elyakim Rubinstein opposing the ruling and calling to delay the move by 18 months, so as to allow legislative regulations on the matter.
JPost explained that until now using a private Orthodox conversion court in Israel did not benefit from the Law of Return, because the rabbinate would not recognize it as valid.
Israeli’s Sfaradic chief rabbi, Yitzhak Yosef, was furious about the “outrage” decision.according to Haaretz he said “It is inconceivable for the pirated conversion industry, which is not monitored by any government authority, to be recognized as official. Israel conducts a conversion process that works according to appropriate and welcoming standards meant to provide for the entire Israeli public, ” he said. “Such a recognition causes de facto elimination of the state’s conversion process.”

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