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IRF Statement on the the Recent Conversion Ruling of the Israeli Supreme Court

March 7, 2021

The International Rabbinic Fellowship, as a deeply committed Modern-Orthodox and Zionist organization, wholly supports the vision of the State of Israel as a Jewish-Democratic state that, in addition to being the home of all its citizens, is deeply connected to the entire Jewish people throughout the world, whatever their religious affiliation and identification. As such it must be open, welcoming and supportive of all law abiding citizens who dwell in its borders and to the entire spectrum of Jews throughout the world.

Over fifteen years ago, Rabbi Yaakov Medan, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Etzion and a leading Religious-Zionist rabbinic leader, and the late esteemed Professor Ruth Gavison worked together to map out provisions that could bring Jews in Israel closer to each other in a social covenant of consensus, without forcing impossible compromises for anyone. The recognition of all conversions specifically for the population registry was one of their suggestions.

In that spirit, we recognize the potential of the recent ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court to heal some of the alienation felt by non-Orthodox Jews both within and outside of Israel. Furthermore, we condemn the recent derisive campaign in Israel against non-Orthodox streams of Judaism. As Orthodox Jews, while we are unalterably committed to our understanding of halakha and the Divine Will, we recognize the devotion of the religious leadership of other movements to Judaism as they understand it and to the Jewish people. There should be no place in our Jewish and especially in our religious discourse for hateful disparagement of fellow Jews due to differences in understanding of God’s Will.

We also call upon the political establishment, including the religious factions in Israel, to implement the suggestions of the Nissim Committee of 2018 to create a more user-friendly and welcoming conversion authority and system that would adhere to legitimate halakhic standards while being more flexible in the spirit of the Giyur Kehalakha organization founded by Rabbi Nachum Rabinovitch z"l and Rabbi Shlomo Riskin. The continuing challenge of converting hundreds of thousands of immigrants who made aliyah from the former Soviet Union, but have become fully integrated into Israeli society including the IDF, requires a sense of national urgency and political and halakhic responsibility for the future of the Jewish people and the Jewish nature of the State of Israel.

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