Immigration Absorption Minister Jacob Edery
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin

‘Converting non-Jews vital for Israel’s future’

Immigration and Absorption Ministry recommends establishment of new conversion authority in attempt to help olim complete conversion process, encourage an increase in applicants

The establishment of a new conversion authority was recommended by the Immigration and Absorption Ministry as the solution to help thousands of immigrants convert to Judaism each year.


The ministry made its recommendation in a report sent to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Monday.


The recommendations included adding more rabbinical judges to conversion courts, removing bureaucratic obstructions, and introducing a special committee headed by the Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, to deal with halachic issues.


Presently, Israel is home to about 300,000 immigrants who arrived in the country under the Law of Return, but are not defined as Jews according to the halacha. Each year, about 6,000 of these immigrants undergo the conversion process, but only a third of them succeed in completing it.


The ministry’s report revealed that applicants are forced to deal with many different bodies in the conversion process, all of whom have different administrative policies. Also, applicants who eventually make it to the end of the conversion process (30%-50% drop out during the preparation stage) are forced to wait over three months before receiving their conversion certificate.


According to a poll by the Immigration and Absorption Ministry, the majority of immigrants said an easy conversion, along with openness and acceptance towards applicants, could encourage an increase in conversion.


“The conversion of non-Jews is both a national and strategic mission, and is vital for the future of the State of Israel. We have to enable citizens who are interested in converting, to fully integrate with the nation and Israeli society,” said Immigration Absorption Minister Jacob Edery.


פרסום ראשון: 08.20.07, 19:52
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