Liberman to government: Don't harm converts to Judaism from former Soviet Union

Yisrael Beytenu criticized coalition's plan to strike down Tzohar Law, which made it easier for those not recognized as Jews to marry.

May 23, 2015 19:24
1 minute read.
A man walks in front of a Yisrael Beytenu party campaign billboard in the southern city of Ashkelon

A man walks in front of a Yisrael Beytenu party campaign billboard in the southern city of Ashkelon. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman on Saturday urged the new government not to abolish the so-called “Tzohar Law,” which abolished marriage registration districts and allows couples to register for marriage anywhere around the country.

The purpose of the law, which was named after the religious Zionist rabbinical organization that has sought to “bridge the gap between secular Israelis and religion,” is to allow couples to avoid unhelpful and overly bureaucratic local religious councils when registering for marriage.

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It frees them to approach more welcoming and helpful ones, in a jurisdiction outside their place of residence.

The law was opposed by the ultra-Orthodox parties, which feared it would encroach on the monopoly of the Chief Rabbinate. Those parties are now members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition, while Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu, the bulk of whose constituency is Russian-speaking immigrants who are not recognized as Jews according to religious law, joined the opposition.

“This evening, we celebrate Shavuot,” Liberman wrote in a statement to the press. “It is happening not long after the formation of a government that intends to cancel the Tzohar Law that we legislated in the previous parliament.”

“This proves that the government wants to make life more difficult for those who immigrated here by dint of the Law of Return and who want to convert to Judaism,” Liberman said. “I hope that when the prime minister and the party leaders in the coalition sit down to read the Book of Ruth, they will come to their senses and remember just how the Jewish people came to accept those truly wishing to join it.”

Liberman urged the coalition to “recant its intention to harm those living in Israel as Jews in every sense and who want to be a part of our nation according to Halacha, but do not wish to suffer the indignities visited upon them by an indifferent [religious] establishment.”

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