Ethiopian Jews in Jerusalem
Ethiopian Jews in JerusalemFlash 90

The state is discriminating against Ethiopians and converts, ITIM chief Rabbi Shaul Farber claimed on Monday in a notice to the Minister of Religion, David Azulai.

Specifically, Rabbi Farber alleges that marriage registration offices run under the auspices of the Ministry of Religion refused to recognize Ethiopians and other Jewish converts for the purposes of marriage. He cited the Petah Tikva office as a notable offender in this regard.

While the subject of state conversions has long been a thorny political issue, in recent years it has shifted from a debate over the validity of Reform and Conservative conversions to the reliability of conversions performed by non-haredi state courts.

The controversy began in 2009 when the Great Rabbinic Court ruled that the conversions performed by Rabbi Druckman, a prominent National Religious rabbi formerly in charge of the state’s conversion courts, were invalid. Some rabbinical courts followed the ruling, regarding converts from Rabbi Druckman’s tenure as non-Jews.

In 2012, however, the Supreme Court affirmed the validity conversions performed during Rabbi Druckman’s term heading the state’s conversion courts, prohibiting government agencies from discriminating against these conversions.

Rabbi Shaul accused the Ministry of Religion of continuing to discriminate against converts, including Ethiopians, who converted during Rabbi Druckman’s tenure, in blatant disregard to the High Court’s ruling. He demanded an immediate halt to the practice, threatening to sue the ministry should it continue to disobey the Supreme Court’s decision.