The Jewish Agency Assembly plenum will vote Tuesday morning on a resolution calling for the government of Israel to recognize non-Orthodox conversions. The resolution will be brought to the plenum by representatives of the non-Orthodox religious streams and the text, printed in hundreds of copies on Monday night to be distributed Tuesday morning, and made available to The Jerusalem Post, has already attracted criticism from Orthodox delegates. Since it is being raised at the last minute, and not before May 15 as required by Agency regulations, two-thirds of the plenum will have to approve a change of rules in order for the resolution itself to be considered by the Assembly. "If we win that battle, the question of a majority to pass the resolution is a given," said one of the resolution's initiators.
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The resolution cites the failure of the official Orthodox Israeli conversion courts to convert graduates of the Joint Institute, the government agency charged with preparing conversion candidates. The resolution further states that one quarter of olim are not halachically Jewish and their number is growing, and that there is no civil alternative in Israeli law to the Orthodox rabbinical control of personal status. For this reason, it calls on the Board of Governors and Executive of the Jewish Agency to speak out on the matter and "urges" the Israeli government to recognize conversions from all Jewish religious streams.
The Tuesday initiative comes days after Jewish Agency Chairman Ze'ev Bielski called on the Israeli government to recognize non-Orthodox conversions. Should it pass, it would mark an unprecedented step and an implicit critique of the Israeli rabbinate and rabbinical courts, and could set the Jewish Agency against the policy of the current coalition that includes the haredi Shas party.