A panel of High Court judges led by Supreme Court President Miriam Naor decided on Thursday that private conversions will be recognized regarding the right of return, which allows all Jews to immigrate to Israel and receive full rights as citizens.
The decision was reached by a majority, with Justice Elyakim Rubinstein opposing the ruling and calling to delay the move by 18 months, so as to allow legislative regulations on the matter.
Rabbi Shaul Farber, chairman of the Itim organization that was one of the organizations petitioning the High Court, said in response “this is a day of good tidings for hundreds of converts who underwent Orthodox conversions and their conversion was not recognized until now.”
In response to the High Court decision, MK Betzalel Smotrich (Jewish Home) announced that with the beginning of the summer session of the Knesset he intends to submit a bill to bypass the decision, determining that only conversions through the state conversion branch will allow prospective converts to receive Israeli citizenship.
“Again the High Court is getting involved in sensitive policy matters and doesn’t give lawmakers any choice other than to fix the distortion created in legislation,” said Smotrich.
“Based on the clause in the coalition agreements according to which harm to the status quo by the High Court (will be countered) in legislation, we will submit to the Knesset a bill giving recognition only to state ordained conversions immediately at the start of the summer session.”
Smotrich called to return the governance to the MKs who were elected by the public, warning that the High Court is overstepping its bounds by determining policy.
Chief Sephardic Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef also condemned the move, saying the court’s decision to recognize private conversions in the state of Israel is “a scandal, it is unthinkable that the pirate conversion industry which is unsupervised by any state body will be recognized as official.”
“The state of Israel runs a state conversion branch under the Prime Minister’s Office which workers under appropriate and pleasant standards meant to give a response to the entire public in the state of Israel,” he added. “This sort of recognition (by the court) effectively causes the elimination of the state conversion branch.”