Israel Rolls Back Geirus Reform


.Israeli ministers yesterday struck down a bill that would have cancelled the control of the Chief Rabbinate over geirus in Israel.

A proposal approved by the cabinet in November but never passed by the Knesset stipulated that the chief rabbi of each city in Israel would be able to convene and chair a bais din on geirus, in addition to the four current state-recognized Orthodox bodies.

At present, some 364,000 Israelis of Jewish ancestry – mostly immigrants from the former Soviet Union – are not considered Jewish according to Torah law and are defined as “religionless,” meaning they cannot marry in Israel.

Israel does not allow civil marriages or interfaith weddings.

By widening the pool of rabbis allowed to authorize conversions, the bill’s sponsors hoped that it would perhaps increase flexibility and encourage “religionless” Israelis to convert to Judaism.

Sunday’s decision, announced by the chief rabbinate in a statement, was a condition set down by the Shas party for joining the coalition government of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu.

Another Shas demand approved Sunday by the cabinet was returning botei din to the jurisdiction of the religious affairs ministry, after 13 years during which they were part of the justice ministry.

Religious Affairs Minister David Azulai of Shas said he was “happy” the botei din were “returning to their natural home” in his ministry, pledging in a statement to increase their efficiency.

{ Israel News Bureau}