Challenge to Chief Rabbinate: National-religious rabbis announce new conversion courts

In a direct challenge to the authority of the Chief Rabbinate, a group of senior national-religious rabbis announced on Monday the formation of a network of independent rabbinical courts for conversion designed to increase rates of conversion among Israeli citizens who immigrated from the former Soviet Union but who are not considered Jewish according to Jewish law.

Rabbi Nahum Rabinowitz, a highly respected national-religious arbiter of Jewish law and the dean of the Maale Adumim Hesder Yeshiva, will act as the head of the new conversion system, along with several other senior rabbis from the national-religious sector who will act as rabbinical judges on the court.

Following the announcement, Chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky publicly backed the new conversion courts, saying that it was an important step “in the process of ingathering the exiles from throughout the world in an era of lost identities and growing assimilation.”


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