The Interior Ministry announced Tuesday that the majority of Orthodox conversions performed overseas will be recognized by the government when considering immigration based on the Law of Return without requiring the Chief Rabbinate's approval.
Some Orthodox rabbis have complained that the Chief Rabbinate refuses to recognize their conversions. ITIM, the Jewish Life Information Center filed a petition with the High Court of Justice on the matter last month.
Some three months ago, the Knesset's Committee on Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora held a discussion on the matter during which Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar said he has set up a commission to review North American conversions.
On Tuesday, the Interior Ministry's Population, Immigration and Borders Authority announced it had accepted the committee's conclusion that only in rare cases when there are questions as to the converting rabbi will the Chief Rabbinate be called in to advise the Ministry.
The Ministry said that in most cases the Jewish Agency will decide whether the converting rabbi's community is indeed Orthodox thus rendering the conversion legal in Israel.
ITIM Institute director Rabbi Shaul Farber welcomed the decision, but added: "The fact that there are no clear criteria for what is a community recognized by Israel, and no clear authority deciding when overseas conversions are questionable, allows the Chief Rabbinate to reject some of the Orthodox communities.
"We insist that any lawful conversion performed by a legitimate Orthodox court shall be automatically recognized without consultation with the Chief Rabbinate which has no jurisdiction in the matter."
Farber described the current state as absurd where the state automatically recognizes Reform and Conservative conversions as part of the Law of Return while Orthodox conversions are being scrutinized.
Chairman of the Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Committee MK Danny Danon said: "I welcome the joint team's conclusions. One hopes the recommendations will be implemented in full and the bureaucratic obstacles be removed. "
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