Proposed conversion reforms a 'spiritual disaster' - Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi

The proposed reforms would allow municipal chief rabbis to do conversions, making it easier for people of Jewish descent who are not Jewish.

 CHIEF ASHKENAZI Rabbi David Lau. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
CHIEF ASHKENAZI Rabbi David Lau.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

"The outline of the proposed conversion is a spiritual disaster and a serious injury to the Judaism of the State of Israel," the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi David Lau said in response to proposed conversion reforms.

The legislation Lau referred to, proposed earlier this week by Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana, would allow municipal chief rabbis to conduct Jewish conversions, effectively making the process easier for people who are of Jewish descent but are not considered Jewish themselves according to religious law.

Some members of Knesset aligned with the current governing coalition feel that Kahana's outline doesn't go far enough to break what they see as the Chief Rabbinate's monopoly on conversion.

There is also debate within the religious Zionist community regarding the reforms. While some believe the proposal would counterbalance the increasing assimilation of Jews into secular society, others see this as an attempt to decrease the power and influence of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate.

"Apart from the fact that the outline empties the powers of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and its authority regarding conversion, the outline will result in a lack of recognition of the conversion system by Israeli rabbis in Israel and around the world," Lau continued.

Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana (Yamina) is seen speaking at the transition ceremony where he replaces now former minister Yaakov Avitan, on June 14, 2021. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana (Yamina) is seen speaking at the transition ceremony where he replaces now former minister Yaakov Avitan, on June 14, 2021. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

He added that, in addition to taking power away from the Chief Rabbinate regarding conversion, the proposed legislation would result in a lack of recognition of Israel's conversion system by rabbis both in Israel and worldwide.

"The President of the Tribunal together with the rabbis and judges of Israel will fight vigorously against this dangerous initiative by all means and call on everyone who can to stop the outline and prevent its implementation," he said.

Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.