After His Kashrus Reform, Minister of Religious Affairs Plans Conversion Reform

The building of the Religious Council and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel in Yerushalayim. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Minister of Religious Affairs Matan Kahana (Yamina) is currently working on another reform that could provoke controversy in the field of religion and state relations. Similar to the kashrus reform he announced Tuesday, Kahana will seek to pass a reform in the field of conversion, which will allow conversions that are not under the control of the Chief Rabbinate. This move is in the advanced planning stages, and there is a chance that it will be presented to the public in the coming weeks.

Kahana’s adviser, Shai Weizmann, commented on the publication in an interview with Kan Radio on Wednesday: “This is on the agenda; according to the coalition agreement, city Rabbis will be able to authorize conversion.” Weizmann also referred to the kashrus reform and said: “We hope that the reform will enter into the upcoming Arrangements Law and begin after a transition period.”

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, Rav of Tzfas, said of Kahana’s reforms in an interview on Wednesday: “This is not serious. Imagine that I was proposing a reform of the Air Force and the pilot system. I have no idea how to get into the pilot’s seat. I think that if Matan Kahana wants to make any changes, he simply can not bring the opponents of the Rabbinate to enact it.

“A person who has no concept in kashrus may be an excellent pilot, but in kashrus he has no clue. [Kahana] did not come to consult with anyone [in the Chief Rabbinate], not with me, not with anyone else. We will not cooperate with him. I do not know a single serious Rabbi who deals with kashrus that backs him up.”

MK Rabbi Yaakov Asher criticized the reform of the kashrus system in an interview with Channel Two. He compared the Rabbinate’s supervision of kashrus to the supervision of the Ministry of Health: “Kashrus and health are the same thing. For us, a person who does not eat kosher is a spiritual death.”

He added:” They say the Rabbinate will monitor and regulate the new kashrus system. If Matan Kahana does not trust the Rabbinate as a Rabbinate, how does he trust it as a supervisor?”

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