NEW YORK, Oct. 22, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC supports the conversion bill introduced by MK Elazar Stern of the Hatnua Party, headed by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. Hatnua has pledged to press the measure, which already passed its first reading in the Knesset, even though it does not enjoy Cabinet support.
"Loosening the Chief Rabbinate's monopoly on conversion makes this bill especially timely," said Dov Zakheim, chair of AJC's Contemporary Jewish Life Commission. "This bill takes a step in the right direction by creating alternatives to the Chief Rabbinate and liberalizing the conversion process."
AJC has warned repeatedly that the Chief Rabbinate's monopoly over personal status issues, such as conversion, poses a threat to the democratic nature of Israel. While this bill falls short of mandating full religious equality, it is a positive step in broadening accessibility to conversion.
By permitting local rabbis to set up conversion courts and allow conversion candidates to go through the process in the court of their choice, the bill would ease the process significantly for thousands of Israelis seeking state-recognized conversion.
AJC recently established a broad-based coalition of American Jews and Israelis dedicated to the realization of full religious equality in the Jewish state, and is mobilizing support for the creation of alternatives to the Chief Rabbinate. Failure to revise the laws governing personal-status issues risks alienating American Jewry, especially younger Jews, which could weaken overall American Jewish support for Israel.
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SOURCE American Jewish Committee