Analysis: Whither the chief rabbinate, whither religious-Zionsim?

The announcement on Monday by senior rabbis in the national-religious community of the establishment of an independent network of rabbinical conversion courts to convert non-Jewish Israeli minors from the former Soviet Union generated TV news headlines and front page stories across the spectrum of Israeli media.

But asides from the thorny issue of conversion and the implications of Jewish intermarriage in Israel, it is the ramifications of this move firstly on the chief rabbinate but also for the national-religious community itself that are most significant.

The chief rabbinate has in recent years experienced a serious decline in the trust and faith of the Israeli public in its services. Israelis in their thousands have flocked to the Tzohar rabbinical association to get married due to the often unwelcoming attitude and sometimes corrupt practices of local rabbinates and rabbis in registering people for marriage and conducting weddings.


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