The Next Saga: Religious Affairs Minister Preparing Giyur Reform

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

In the wake of his recent proposal to reform the kashrus system in Israel, which has sparked uproar in the Chief Rabbinate and chareidi and religious public, Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana (Yamina) is now advancing a conversion reform that will likely please non-Orthodox elements and anger the chareidi and religious public once again.

Yisrael Hayom reported that Kahana has held a series of consultations in recent days in preparation for drafting what will be a national conversion bill.

In the coming weeks, Kahana is also expected to meet with Rabbis from the national religious sector, as well as with former Justice Minister Moshe Nissim. In 2018, Nissim proposed a conversion reform outline that recommended establishing a new conversion authority outside the jurisdiction of the Chief Rabbinate, which would recognize liberal, or non-Orthodox, conversions performed abroad. The outline presented by Nissim, however, which did receive the go-ahead by then-Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, was buried due to chareidi and religious pressure.

Kahana is also expected to meet with current conversion officials before drafting and presenting his outline, in the hope of garnering the broadest possible support.

Not many details are known yet about Kahana’s intended conversion reform, although it’s reasonable to assume it will also be met with severe backlash from chareidi and religious MKs.

Conversion reforms have been attempted in the past, including allowing chief municipal Rabbis to establish their own localized conversion authorities. However, they have all been shelved due to chareidi and religious pressure.

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