Skip To Content
We’ve Taken Down the Forward Paywall: An Open Letter to Our ReadersRead Now
Breaking News

Israel’s Chief Rabbinate Agrees To Recognize All Orthodox Conversions

Israel’s Chief Rabbinate has agreed to recognize all official Jewish conversions undertaken in the country, which are all Orthodox, JTA has learned.

ITIM, the Jewish Life Information Center, and the Chief Rabbinate have reached an agreement under which the rabbinate will recognize all conversions conferred under the auspices of Israeli conversion programs, including the military. The agreement was made available to JTA.

The center had filed a lawsuit against the rabbinate in the Israeli Supreme Court in May 2010 after the rabbinate refused to recognize the conversions of some couples who had come to register for marriage.

Under the agreement, local rabbis are obligated to open a marriage file for any convert that comes before them. If a local rabbi does not feel he can open the file, he can send the paperwork to a national office, which must return the paperwork to the original office within two weeks. The file then must appear on the local office’s letterhead.

The Chief Rabbinate had offered to open a separate registration bureau for converts in three cities, which ITIM turned down as discriminatory.

“I am a little skeptical whether the local rabbis will follow as directed because they have already demonstrated that they have no respect for the Chief Rabbinate,” Rabbi Seth Farber, founder and director of ITIM, told JTA.

Farber said ITIM is set to respond positively to the state’s offer on May 8 – the deadline for the organization to respond to the offer. He said the organization will not withdraw the complaint, only freeze it, giving the Chief Rabbinate one month to implement the new system and six months to see how it works. If it is not successful, the group can unfreeze the complaint.

“We see in the state’s response a victory for the converts and the justification of the righteousness of this struggle,” Farber said. “From now on, converts can again feel like an integral part of the Jewish people and not feel inferior. We must continue to be vigilant to ensure that such incidents do not repeat themselves in the future and that the state’s policy decisions are actually implemented.”


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.