“Israel needs to find a solution regarding weddings and divorces for citizens who are not considered Jewish according to Jewish law, "Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann said Sunday night.
According to him, the State needs to help them integrate into Israelis' lives and to accept them even if the Halacha (Jewish law) has difficulty recognizing them as Jews. The present situation in which they cannot marry, is unacceptable, he added.
Friedmann explained that “some groups consider them Jewish since they serve in IDF infantry units like Golani and Givati. It is the country’s duty as a member of the family of nations to allow every citizen to marry.
"Rabbi Avraham Sherman (who decided that conversions carried out by Rabbi Haim Druckman were null and void) may not accept this, but the State as a state, must.”
In a conference discussing “who is a Jew” held at the Brodt Jewish Culture Center in Tel Aviv, the justice minister attacked the policies of strict rulings in the rabbinical courts, saying that “I wouldn’t say anything if there was another way to get married. The problem is that the same strict group doesn’t allow others to get married in different places.”
Minister Friedmann also discussed the issue of conversions, claiming that “the world’s Orthodox community believes that whoever fails to abide by the commandments will eventually assimilate.
"However, I believe that the approach in Israel needs to be completely different. When we are on our own land and there is Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel, if somebody wants to join us, it is worth it to make it easier on them. The same strictness is not fitting because people share the same fate just by virtue of them being here.”
He also said that “the last decision canceling conversions carried out by Rabbi Druckman does not make the situation look promising. I hope that he will reassess this issue and I will recommend that Knesset members adopt legislation on the issue.”
'We did not cancel any conversion'
Israel’s Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, who participated in the event, said in response to Friedmann's remarks that “there is no dispute regarding the fact that whoever wants to convert needs to accept the commandments and without doing so they will not be considered converts.”
Rabbi Amar referred to the Rabbi Druckman case, saying that “actually we did not cancel any conversion, but the specific case discussed was returned to the local rabbinical court. People claimed certain things and the religious judges said that if they will be proven as true, the conversion will be cancelled. In the meantime, we have not yet convened with the involved parties and thus I cannot express my stance on the issue.”
The chief rabbi added that the amount of press surrounding this case is inappropriate. “Like in any situation, here too the judges are divided, and such is God’s way," Amar said.
Amar also discussed Friedmann’s proposal to arrange weddings for non-Jewish immigrants and noted that “my past proposal to the justice minister was to allow them to marry one another, just like Christians, Muslims and members of any other sect are permitted to do in Israel.
"However, they are not permitted to marry Jews. We cannot be part and parcel to the plague of the generation - assimilation."