Matan Kahana
Matan KahanaSpokesperson

Sunday's cabinet meeting, after opening with a statement related to the funeral of the Sar haTorah, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky ztz"l, was a stormy one, with arguments breaking out between Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman and Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana, on the topic of conversion reform.

"There's no need to mix public relations into this religious issue," Liberman said, addressing Kahana. "This law that you're proposing is not a good law. The Chief Rabbinate is doing everything it can to prevent conversions from taking place. They don't want to make conversions easier; they want to complicate matters."

Kahana responded: "That's not true. You don't understand what this law is about. And, what's more, for the past two months you have refused to meet with me, even though I've tried to arrange a meeting time after time."

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett then intervened, telling the ministers, "There aren't many gaps left [between your positions]. You just have to find a way to close them." Turning to Kahana, he added, "Matan, give a presentation on the law, a few hours to clarify things,"

"With pleasure," Kahana responded, adding, "Rabbi Stav can give the presentation," said in reference to the head of the Tzohar institute.

"Thousands of immigrants need to convert to Judaism," interjected Immigration & Absorption Minister Penina Tamano-Shatta. "These are people whose grandparents were Jews but they, themselves are not Jews according to halachah [Jewish law], and we need to help them."

In conversation with Israel National News prior to Sunday's cabinet meeting, Intelligence Minister Elazar Stern said, "The conversion law that is on the government's agenda today presents the groundwork for the reforms, and shortens the procedure necessary. We're going to pass this law when the Knesset reopens for the summer session, and this is incredibly important, especially now with so many people who are eligible to immigrate according to the Law of Return arriving and wanting to convert. We should be welcoming them here."

Last week, the Yisrael Beytenu party (headed by Avigdor Liberman) announced that they intend to oppose the Conversion Bill drafted by Religious Affairs Minister Kahana.

"Kahana isn't doing anything to help. There's nothing in the Law he's proposing that will enable municipal rabbis to perform conversions -- all it achieves is to give jobs for his cronies," the party alleged. "This is just one more Israel-bluff, and there's no way we're going to vote in favor."