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Thursday, March 13, 2014

'Jewish Home' party to support bill to strip Chief Rabbinate of powers over conversion?

In an earlier post, I reported on the pact with the devil made by the main parties in the coalition. Each of Likud/Beiteinu, Yesh Atid and Jewish Home agreed to force every member of its Knesset delegation to support three bills - electoral reform, Haredi draft and referendum. The tactic worked and the last of the bills - the referendum bill - passed the Knesset on Wednesday.

But there's a fourth party in the coalition - the Tzipi Livni party - which also voted in favor of all three bills. I hope you didn't think they're not getting something too. And indeed they are. The Hebrew daily Maariv is reporting on Thursday that the coalition has agreed to support the Tzipi Livni party's bill to strip the Chief Rabbinate of its exclusive powers over conversion in Israel.. Et tu Naftali Bennett?
The legislation, put forth by MK Elazar Stern (Hatnua), would allow city rabbis to conduct conversions, and would allow potential converts to choose the beit din (rabbinic court) they wish to convert with. Currently, would-be converts are restricted to conversion via the rabbinic court in their place of residence.
The bill’s supporters say it will ease the process of conversion to Judaism while ensuring that state-recognized conversions adhere to the requirements of halakha (Jewish law). Opponents warn that it could effectively strip the Chief Rabbinate of its authority over conversions, and could ultimately lead to rabbis being forced to accept a definition of Jewishness that contradicts Jewish law.
Stern reportedly received a promise of Coalition support for his bill, and in exchange, retracted objections he had made to various clauses in the Enlistment Bill.
Sources in Hatnua and Likud explained, “Hatnua was unhappy that it was being forced to support three laws, each of which it had some problems with, without the party getting support for any law associated with it. That led to the agreement on promoting Stern’s conversion bill.”
Given what's currently going on in America over precisely this issue, is this really the direction in which  we want to go?

Given that the 'Jewish Home' party regards itself as the primary proponent of the idea that the state institutions of the State of Israel (qua State) has religious significance, is the 'Jewish Home' party actually going to support this bill?

I can name two MK's - one from Jewish Home and one from Likud - who probably won't. Yoni Chetboun from Jewish Home and Moshe Feiglin from Likud. I have to wonder what others will do.

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At 5:18 PM, Blogger Red Tulips said...

Well actually Israel becomes a more Jewish state - not less - when it dismantles the state-paid rabbinate.

At 6:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the other hand, a central rabbinic authority is the exception in jewish history, not the rule. It only happened three times: The Consistoire in France (started by Napoleon, to make it easier for him to communicate his orders to the jewish community), the Kahal in Czarist Russia (same reason), and the Chief Rabbinate in Israel. It opens up the possibility to political abuse, extremism etc. I would much prefer the decentralization (decried by you in the USA), and deal with the problems created by having divergent standards. It keeps extremism (in both directions) at bay, and gives "clients" the option of finding a forum which listens to their concerns.


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