ADL Disappointed at Israeli Government’s Rejection of Legislation on Reforming Conversion Process

New York, NY, July 6, 2015 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today expressed disappointment at the Israeli government’s decision to reject proposed legislation which would have positively reformed the Jewish conversion process in Israel.

In November 2014, the Israeli government had approved a legislative proposal to remove the central rabbinical authority’s monopoly over the conversion process by allowing regional rabbis to establish local conversion courts, thereby easing the conversion path for tens of thousands of Israelis.

“The Israeli government’s abrogation of this important legislation is an unfortunate detour in the much-needed effort to achieve full religious inclusivity for all Jewish Israelis and Jews around the world,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “This disappointing decision will negatively impact tens of thousands of Israelis seeking to convert, many of whom hail from the Former Soviet Union, including some who served in the Israel Defense Forces, and also exacerbates ongoing tensions with Jewish communities outside of Israel advocating for an alternative to the central rabbinate’s obstructionist and cumbersome conversion process.”

Mr. Foxman added, “The long-standing monopoly of Israel's Orthodox Chief Rabbinate over conversions in Israel, and refusal to recognize the vibrant diversity of mainstream Jewish religious practice, is of particular concern to the American Jewish community. It is highly unfortunate that the Israeli government has derailed this pressing concern to millions of Jews worldwide.”

The League initially welcomed the November decision, calling the move “an important step forward for Israeli society and Jewish inclusivity.”