Israeli religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana, who recently traveled to the US to seek support for his controversial Giyur reform was turned down by the Rabbanim in New York with a letter issued against the plan.
As it stands, the US Rabbanim harshly criticized the plan, which instead of being subject solely to halacha, is intended to “solve the problem” of the half-million non-Jewish citizens in Israel.
The plan intends to completely sideline Israel’s Rabbanut, and hidden clauses in the reform essentially transfer the authority for giyur to Israel’s prime minister, which means that in the near future, Yair Lapid could have the final say on all matters related to giyur.
In opposition to this reform, the letter was signed by the Rabbanim and leaders of the Orthodox Union, the Rabbinical Council of America, REITS-Yeshiva University, and the Religious Zionists of America, and was penned by Rabbi Leonard A. Matanky, PhD, co-president of the Religious Zionists of America, honorary governor of the Orthodox Union, and past president of the Rabbinical Council of America.
The letter read, “We are concerned that Minister Kahana’s proposed reforms — including the decentralization of Israel’s conversion courts, as well as the resultant lack of transparent standards — will not solve these difficulties, and will instead create another equally severe set of problems. We are also concerned that his proposals sideline Israel’s chief rabbinate.
Specifically: the proposal to empower local rabbinical courts will enable only a small percentage of the relevant population to undergo conversion, as even the most liberal of those courts will require some level of commitment to Torah observance. Likewise, only a modest fraction of this population would take advantage of more relaxed standards for conversion of their newborns. As such, the costs of the proposed legislation must be weighed against truly limited benefits.”