Resolution on the Status of Conversions in Israel

The Masorti movement is a party to a suit against the Government of Israel in the Supreme Court in Israel in order to grant Masorti converts Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return. For many years, the Masorti movement has sought to establish the principle that conversions by members of the Rabbinical Assembly must be recognized by the State of Israel on an equal basis to those performed by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and Orthodox bodies elsewhere. The Masorti movement has achieved such recognition for conversions performed in the Diaspora and in Israel for purposes of registration of converts as Jews. However, the State has refused to recognize our conversions performed in Israel for purposes of granting Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return.

The Israeli government has proposed to set up another Neeman Commission. The first such commission recommended that Masorti conversions be suspended for a trial period. During the period of suspension, the Joint Institute (run jointly by the Orthodox, Conservative and Reform movements) would handle preparation of all converts while the actual conversion would be under the aegis of the Chief Rabbinate. Since the Chief Rabbinate rejected that idea the Masorti Bet Din did not suspend its conversions. The Joint Institute that was subsequently set up has faced continual problems from the Chief Rabbinate, especially true where converts had connection to the Masorti movement. The Batei Din reject half of the graduates of The Joint Institute.  As a result, the Joint Institute has recently stopped sending candidates to the Batei Din of the Chief Rabbinate until a major change is made in the way they function. The Masorti movement rejects the establishment of another Neeman Commission and insists that the Israeli government accepts Masorti converts as Israeli citizens under the Law of Return.

Whereas the Law of Return, as interpreted by the Supreme Court of Israel, recognizes conversions of all established streams of Judaism for purposes of Israeli citizenship;

Whereas the Law of Return makes no differentiation between conversions performed in the Diaspora and those performed in the State of Israel; and

Whereas previous attempts to achieve cooperation between the streams and the Chief Rabbinate (e.g., Neeman Commission) have ended in failure because of the refusal of the Chief Rabbinate to cooperate with other religious streams.

Therefore be it resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly call upon the government of the State of Israel to withdraw its objections to the lawsuit pending concerning conversions before the Supreme Court, to cease its efforts to establish a second Neeman Commission, and to agree to recognize conversions performed in Israel by all established streams of Judaism for purposes of granting Israeli citizenship according to the Law of Return.

Passed by the Rabbinical Assembly Plenum, February, 2007