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Converts, activists protest ruling
Matthew Wagner
06/06/2008
A quiet crowd of about 150 gather in Jerusalem to protest a recent decision by the court that cast doubt on the Jewishness of thousands of converts.
A quiet crowd of about 150 gathered Thursday night in front of the High Rabbinical Court's headquarters in Jerusalem to protest a recent decision by the court that cast doubt on the Jewishness of thousands of converts. Some of the demonstrators were converts, most of then immigrants from the former Soviet Union who were directly affected by the ruling. "Miriam" told The Jerusalem Post that she and other converts were devastated by the court decision. "It took me three years to convert," said Miriam. "And after I finally did these rabbis came along and told me it was all off." She had difficulty converting since she is the mother of a young boy who is enrolled in a secular elementary school. "I want to enroll him in a religious school but the psychologist recommended that for stability's sake I should keep in the same school for another year. It took a while for the conversion court to agree to allow me to convert before my son," she said. Activists bandied signs calling to adhere to the biblical commandment not to insult the convert and not to distort Jewish law. Speakers called to end the monopoly of haredi rabbis over the Chief Rabbinate, to pass legislation to limit the rabbinical courts' power over conversions and to make the conversion process more congenial to potential converts. Religious Zionist Rabbi Yoel Bin-Nun called on Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar to annul the court's decision and reiterate his support for the special conversion courts. NGOs petitioned the secular High Court of Justice Thursday to take away the Rabbinical Courts' jurisdiction over conversion matters, and called to support legislation that would force local rabbis to automatically recognize all conversions that are performed by the special conversion courts. The woman whose conversion was annulled retroactively by the Ashdod Rabbinical Court spoke to the protesters via telephone hookup, sharing with them her tribulations.
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