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Committee Sends Conversion Reform Bill to the Knesset

By: JTA

See also: Brave New Nation: 30 New Rabbinical Courts to Process Conversions.

A bill that would allow local rabbis to oversee conversions will be introduced to the parliament after passing a Knesset committee.

Under the measure advanced Sunday by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, a city rabbi could convene a beit din, or rabbinical court, for conversions under his jurisdiction.

Conversions are handled in Israel by the Chief Rabbinate. The country now has four conversion courts; the bill would provide for about 30 more, each comprised of three rabbis.

The chief rabbis of Israel oppose the bill, saying it is not stringent enough on some areas of conversion, Haaretz reported. The bill “puts the halachic [Jewish legal] validity of conversions in Israel at risk,” the chief rabbis said in a statement, the newspaper reported.

Elazar Stern, a Modern Orthodox lawmaker from the Tzipi Livni Movement party, submitted the bill and said he plans to involve non-Orthodox denominations in adjusting the legislation.

The bill may undergo some changes before it reaches the Knesset for a preliminary reading, according to reports.

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