The Ministerial Committee on Legislation approves Sunday the State Conversion Law, which was initiated by the Shas and United Torah Judaism parties. The law states that conversions will be conducted only under the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate, and bans private conversions.
Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver (Yisrael Beytenu) has announced that she will file an appeal that will prevent the Knesset from advancing the law until Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu decides to raise the law for discussion and vote at the weekly cabinet meeting.
Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef welcomed the approval of the conversion law. "We welcome the government decision initiated by Interior Minister Rabbi Aryeh Deri, to act to regulate the matter of conversion according to Torah law alone, it is inconceivable that non-Orthodox conversions and private conversions will be recognized here in Israel."
Rabbi David Stav, chairman of the Tzohar Rabbinical Association, warned earlier today thatthe conversion law will bring about a further reduction in the number of converts, adding that this will cause a great injustice to thousands of converts who have already been brought to alternative courts.
In an interview with Israel Radio, Rabbi Stav said, "It is inconceivable that religious Zionist leaders will leave this issue with another party and will not get into the thick of it."
"Just as it is unthinkable for the state to determine what a kosher lulav or kosher synagogue is, it is inconceivable for the state to decide what a proper conversion is," Rabbi Stav said.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman also attacked the conversion law approved by the Knesset's Ministerial Committee on Legislation, and would forbid private conversion. "The conversion law, in its present form, disturbs all those who try and want to be close to Judaism, which harms the conversion system of the rabbis of Tzohar, and harms the chances of many citizens in Israel who immigrated to Israel under the Law of Return and serve in the army."
"In recent years, the director of conversion has done everything in order to reduce the number of converts, in such a way that even Ruth the Moabite would not have been able to undergo conversion in the manner required of converts today. The only change required today in the matter of conversion is the return of authority to the municipal rabbis to establish conversion courts, and for conversion to take place from city to city, as was the practice until the mid-1990s.
"I call upon my comrades in the national camp to return to sanity, to prevent the rift within the Jewish people and to follow in the footsteps of Herzl, Jabotinsky and Max Nordau," Liberman added.