'Rabbi Yosef strongly opposes IDF conversions bill'

Shas MKs met with spiritual leader over controversial bill that would effectively detach the military conversion courts from the Chief Rabbinate.

By JONAH MANDEL
December 1, 2010 15:19
1 minute read.
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Shas MKs Eli Yishai, Ariel Attias and Meshulam Nahari met with the party's spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef on Wednesday morning and brought him up to speed on the political developments regarding the advancement of the bill to legislate an autonomous and legitimate status to the conversions taking place in the IDF, effectively detaching the military conversion courts from the Chief Rabbinate.

The bill, proposed by Israel Beiteinu members David Rotem and Robert Ilatov, won the approval of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday, and faces two more rounds of Knesset votes before it becomes law. On Tuesday, Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar, who heads the rabbinate's conversion mechanism, threatened Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in a letter that he would resign from his responsibilities over conversions in Israel, if the premier didn't halt the bill from becoming law.

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According to reports, Yosef expressed his extreme discontent over the possibility that the IDF conversions would be detached from the Chief Rabbinate.

Speaking on Israel Radio, Nahari explained that such legislation was a change to the status quo on religious issues, and therefore a breach of the coalition's agreement. Rotem countered by telling the radio station that the breach of the status quo was when certain elements decided to doubt the validity of the military conversions, and that his legislation was meant to prevent any future such occurrences.

The Masorti (Conservative) Movement in Israel said in a Wednesday announcement that “Shas is extorting the government, at the expense of the IDF converts. The objections of Amar and Shas show once again how they are driven by narrow political considerations rather than Halacha.”


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