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Israeli Cabinet Reverses Conversion Reform To Please Ultra-Orthodox

Israel’s Cabinet reversed regulations reforming conversion policy that were passed by the previous government.

Under the measure repealed by the Cabinet on Sunday, as many as 30 courts made up of municipal rabbis would be allowed for the purpose of conversion. Currently there are 33 rabbis and four conversion courts that can perform conversions throughout Israel. The measure had been enacted by government order in November.

Repealing conversion reform reportedly was part of the coalition deal struck between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party and the haredi Orthodox United Torah Judaism Party, which did not sit in the last government.

Conversion reform had been opposed by Chief Rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef and the haredi Orthodox political parties.

The reform would have especially helped more than 300,000 Jews from the former Soviet Union who are not Jewish according to halacha, or Jewish law.

The Cabinet on Sunday also transferred authority over the country’s rabbinical courts from the Justice Ministry to the Ministry of Religious Services, which is headed by David Azoulay of the Sephardic Orthodox Shas Party.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked both of the Jewish Home Party, voted against the two measures.

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