Supreme Court Accepts Non-Orthodox Conversions

March 31, 2005

Source: Beliefnet

Wire Service: AP

On March 31, 2005 the Associated Press reported, "The Supreme Court on Thursday granted recognition to non-Orthodox conversions to Judaism partly performed in Israel, capping a six-year legal battle with a sharp blow to the country's Orthodox monopoly over religious affairs. The decision drew harsh condemnation from the rabbinical establishment and cut to the heart of the perennial question: Who is a Jew? The Reform and Conservative movements praised the ruling as an important step in their efforts to win recognition in Israel... The Reform and Conservative movements, the largest streams of Judaism in the United States, have been largely sidelined in Israel by the Orthodox religious establishment. The Orthodox chief rabbinate wields a monopoly over religious rites such as marriages, divorces and burials, and Orthodox schools and seminaries receive the vast majority of the government religious budget each year. Under the current contradictory practice, Israel recognizes only conversions performed by Orthodox rabbis inside Israel, although people converted by non-Orthodox rabbis outside the country are eligible for citizenship under Israel's 'Law of Return,' which grants automatic citizenship to anyone who is Jewish."