Rabbinic court 224.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Twenty-two rabbis selected to join the special conversion courts administered by the Prime Minister's Office have petitioned the High Court of Justice after the government froze the hiring process.
The selection process was suspended because of opposition by rabbis already serving on the courts. Senior dayan Rabbi Yisrael Rozen protested to the search committee that chose the new dayanim that "there is absolutely no need for additional dayanim (unless you plan to fire some of those currently serving on the court)."
The rabbis on the court are paid according to each case they handle.
The search committee rejected Rozen's letter.
"In light of the problems regarding conversions and the decision of the ministerial committee on immigration and conversion, the committee believes there is a vital need for  more dayanim," it informed the protesting rabbis.
Nevertheless, Civil Service Commissioner Shmuel Hollander decided to freeze the appointment procedure and reconsider the decision to hire the rabbis.
On July 30, Prof. Binyamin Ish-Shalom, chairman of the executive of the Center for Jewish Studies, which was established in accordance with the recommendation of attorney Ya'acov Ne'eman and members of his conversion committee, wrote that there were 4,300 non-Jews studying for conversion, not counting soldiers, as well as many hundreds of would-be converts who had completed their studies but had not yet appeared before the special conversion courts or regular rabbinical courts.
The government established the special conversion courts as an alternative to the regular rabbinical courts whose dayanim, overwhelmingly haredi, are regarded as hostile to the would-be converts.
The government regards conversion as a top priority because of the large number of Israeli citizens who immigrated from the former Soviet Union in accordance with the Law of Return even though they were not Jewish.