The Israeli High Court’s ruling yesterday recognizing non-halachic conversions performed in the country is not only a radical departure from the Jewish religious tradition bequeathed to all Jews but a body blow to true Jewish unity.
The court’s decision is both misleading and dangerous.
Misleading, because conversion is not a secular change of status; it is, inherently, a religious one. And dangerous, because bestowing legal status of any sort to “conversions” that lack the essential elements that have defined geirus for millennia can only confuse the Jewish public and increase disunity.
We in the United States have watched in anguish how non-halachic “conversions” have created a plurality of “Jewish peoples” here, with predictable and lamentable impacts on the ability of halacha-faithful Jews to marry many who were raised in non-Orthodox Jewish communities. We fear the specter of any similar bifurcation taking place in Israel.
And so we call on members of the Knesset to recognize that the High Court’s ruling threatens to further exacerbate similar societal disunity in Israel. The Knesset should craft and pass legislation clarifying that conversion is an inherently religious procedure, and that defining it is the role of the Rabbinate, not any secular body.