Chief Rabbi Amar warns of rift in Jewish nation over conversions

Chief rabbi slams High Court ruling to order state funding for non-Orthodox conversation institutes.

shlomo amar 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
shlomo amar 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Last week's ruling by the High Court of Justice ordering the state to fund Reform and Conservative conversion institutes as well as Orthodox ones could create a schism in the Jewish nation, Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar warned on Sunday. Until now, non-Orthodox conversion programs were not eligible for funding, which is provided by the Immigration and Absorption Ministry. According to Israel Radio, Amar and his Ashkenazi counterpart, Rabbi Yona Metzger, held an emergency meeting on Sunday to discuss the court's ruling, which was reached unanimously last Tuesday by Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch and justices Miriam Na'or and Edna Arbel. At the meeting, Amar reportedly said that the struggle over the conversion issue was a historic halachic dispute, and he warned that the court's decision might lead to a rift in the Jewish nation. He added that the cabinet had already decided that state-sponsored conversions must be done according to Halacha. Religious Services Minister Ya'acov Margi of Shas also slammed the ruling, saying the High Court would force anyone who observed Halacha and who was concerned with maintaining his Jewish identity to keep genealogy records. Shas MKs who took part in the meeting, together with representatives from Habayit Hayehudi and United Torah Judaism, have decided to demand the implementation of a coalition agreement that will anchor in law the state's recognition of Orthodox conversion alone. Dan Izenberg contributed to this report.