The Tzohar Rabbinical Organization, which has been a major force in the effort to reform the halachic conversion process in Israel, described the passage of the Conversion Bill as “a victory for those who oppose the continued assimilation within Israeli society and the future of the Jewish People.”
Rabbi David Stav, Founder and Chairman of Tzohar said, “The Government of Israel took responsibility this morning for our country’s future and ratified a decision which will benefit hundreds of thousands of Israelis who had been stymied for years by an outdated and unfriendly conversion process at the hands of the Chief Rabbinate. Should this reform not have been accepted, we would have been witness to an irreversible path of assimilation not unlike that which exists in Jewish communities throughout the Diaspora”
The bill, as it was passed by the cabinet, will transfer the authority over conversion from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel’s authority into the hands of local official municipal rabbis. According to Tzohar, this process will make the procedure far more efficient and welcoming to the convert. Furthermore Rabbi Stav said, “This development will in no way impact upon the halachic sanctity of the conversion process and will always be carried out according to the tradition which has inspired us from the time we received the Torah at Sinai. We are proud to restore the Municipal Courts of Conversion that existed in Israel until 20 years ago when they were transferred to the authority of the Chief Rabbinate”.
The Tzohar Rabbinical Organization expressed their gratitude to MK Elazar Stern for bravely leading this initiative in the Knesset, along with Deputy Minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, MK David Rotem, as well as opposition leader MK Yitzchak Herzog.
Rabbi Stav said, “The decision this morning is nothing short of historic for the future of Jewish identity in Israel and in passing this law we will now be able to look into the eyes of converts and say with love and compassion, welcome to the Jewish people.”
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)