Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Fast Forward

In First, Israeli Court Recognizes Private Conversion To Judaism

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli court ordered the Interior Ministry to register as Jewish a woman converted by a private Orthodox conversion court.

The decision by the Jerusalem Municipal Court was publicized on Thursday.

The woman’s conversion in the summer of 2016 was performed in the Giyur K’Halacha court, which was founded three years ago and has grown to include more than 55 participating rabbis. Since its founding, Giyur K’Halacha has converted more than 600 individuals, nearly all of them children.

“Given that the individual went through a conversion, she should be registered as Jewish in the Population Registry,” Judge Aaron Farkash wrote in the court ruling.

However, the decision does not mean necessarily that the woman will have her Jewish status recognized by the Chief Rabbinate for life-cycle events, such as marriage, divorce and burial.

In March 2016, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that private Orthodox conversions could be recognized under the Law of Return. Subsequently, Minister of Interior Aryeh Deri floated a conversion law that would have given the Chief Rabbinate an absolute monopoly on conversion in Israel. The legislation was suspended and a committee headed by former Likud government minister Moshe Nissim was slated to be appointed to draw up more palatable legislation.

Three months ago, Nissim presented recommendations to overhaul the state conversion system, including a new state-run Orthodox authority not under auspices of the Chief Rabbinate. His recommendations have not yet been taken up by the Knesset.

Rabbi Seth Farber, director of Itim, an organization that seeks to help Israelis navigate the country’s religious bureaucracy filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Giyur K’Halacha convert. Farber said the court’s decision “not only gives legitimacy and standing to the Giyur K’Halacha courts, but also opens the door to thousands of young families who wish to fully join the Jewish people and have identical rights in Israel to other Jews.”

The president of the Giyur K’Halacha court, Rabbi Nahum Rabinovich, is one of the senior rabbis of the religious Zionist movement.

Engage

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.