Knesset panel worried by conversion ruling

Landver: Bring people closer to Judaism, don't push them away.

The Knesset Public Petitions Committee expressed concern over the implications of negating conversions during a special meeting Monday to discuss the recent rabbinic court ruling in Ashdod that put one woman's conversion into serious question. "There is no logic to the situation in which since 1999 until today, people were considered Jewish, and as of 2008 are no longer considered Jewish," said Committee Chairwoman MK Sofa Landver (Israel Beiteinu). "The State of Israel and Judaism as a whole must 'open its ranks,' bring people closer to Judaism, and not push them away." Landver added that she hoped that in the future, courts would be prevented from reopening conversion files after the process had been completed, describing the current situation as emerging from a "power struggle between rabbis." She emphasized that the struggles between different factions ultimately pushed immigrants further away from Judaism. The committee ultimately resolved to call upon the rabbinic courts not to invalidate any conversions and said that it would continue to follow the issue. In addition, they commended the intent of the Center for Jewish Pluralism to submit an appeal to the High Court of Justice challenging the rabbinic courts' ability to invalidate conversions. Also on Monday morning, Absorption Minister Ya'akov Edri and Absorption and Aliya Ministry Director-General Erez Halfon met with Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar. Edri described the goal of the meeting as preventing new immigrants from being hurt by the rabbinic court ruling. Hundreds of immigrants' conversions have been called into question following the threat to negate conversions carried out by Rabbi Haim Druckman, appointed by the government to regularize the conversion system in Israel. Amar reportedly promised during the meeting that he would ensure that the recent ruling did not carry with it implications for Druckman's other conversions. Amar, the presiding judge of the High Rabbinic Court, opposed the ruling that overturned conversions made by Druckman since 1999. The Ashdod case, which sent shock waves across the country, is now sitting on Amar's desk, Chief Rabbinate Director-General Oded Viener told the Knesset Public Petitions Committee Monday. It will ultimately be up to Amar to check the doubts cast by the court ruling on the validity of the defendant's conversion, he said.