Reform, Conservative movements welcome Israel’s High Court ruling on conversions

Reform and Conservative conversions have been recognized outside of Israel since 1995, but not within Israel.

By David Isaac, World Israel News 

The Reform and Conservative movements praised the decision by Israel’s Supreme Court on Monday to allow their strands of Judaism to perform conversions in Israel.

The court ruled 8-1 in favor of the decision. Reform and Conservative conversions have been recognized outside of Israel since 1995, but not within Israel.

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said in a statement, “This decision was years in the making and reflects the diversity and vibrancy of Jewish life in Israel and around the world.

“Today, the Court has affirmed the reality that the Jewish people are stronger because of the contributions of Reform and Conservative Movements and their commitment to bringing more Jews into the Jewish People. We hope this ruling establishes a precedent that will lead to further recognition of the Reform and Conservative movements in Israel,” he added.

The Rabbinical Assembly, the organization of Conservative rabbis worldwide, chimed in, “This was a very long time coming. Not swift justice, but sweet and righteous just the same.”

“We call on all parties in Israel to respect the decision of the Court and to proactively protest attempts to legislate against religious freedom in Israel, as well as Jewish communities abroad,” the group said.

The call to respect the decision appears already to be a longshot. Israel’s Orthodox leaders blasted the court with Israel’s Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef saying its decision was a “falsification of Judaism and will mean including thousands of Gentiles among the people of Israel.”

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau added, “Those who converted through Reform conversions and the like are not Jewish. No Supreme Court decision will change that fact.”

Ultra-Orthodox politicians, announced that they wouldn’t join a coalition government unless an ‘override clause‘ was passed giving the Knesset the power to overturn Supreme Court decisions.

Naftali Bennett of the Yemina party, though not belonging to the ultra-Orthodox, said also he would push legislation on the issue as the court was “intervening in government decisions and forgetting its role.”