Israel to recognize Reform conversions - with haredi backing?

Conversion committee set up by PM, Shas leader reportedly to submit bill recognizing conversions of established Jewish communities.

Gary Willig ,

Minister of the Interior Aryeh Deri addressing the press during the press conference at th
Minister of the Interior Aryeh Deri addressing the press during the press conference at th
Hillel Meir/TPS

The State of Israel may officially recognize certain conversions carried out by rabbis affiliated with the Reform and Conservative movements, with the consent of the haredi parties.

The Conversion Committee, which was formed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, is expected to submit a bill to solve the issue of the recognition of conversions performed in the diaspora during the Knesset's summer session.

According to information obtained by the Behadrei Haredim news website, under the bill, the State of Israel would recognize conversions from a well-established community with a Jewish "identity."

"A well-known Jewish community is a well-established and active community with a common and well-known Jewish identity, with permanent frameworks of community management and belonging to one of the recognized streams of the world Jewish population," the bill reportedly states.

Many Reform and Conservative Jewish communities would be included under the above definition.

Former Justice Minister Moshe Nissim, who heads the Conversion Committee, told Behadrei Haredim: "We have not yet formulated a final version. We hope that within 10 days we will present the final version to the prime minister."

The committee was formed after Shas chairman Aryeh Deri submitted a bill which would deny recognition to conversions performed outside the system of the Chief Rabbinate, preventing those who underwent such conversions from obtaining Israeli citizenship. Prime Minister Netanyahu established the committee to reach a compromise after the Reform and Conservative movements threatened to petition the Supreme Court to force the Sate to recognize non-Orthodox conversions.

The haredi parties are expected to support the bill recommended by the committee.