What the Israeli Supreme Court’s Conversion Ruling Means, and Why It Matters https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/israel-zionism/2021/03/what-the-israeli-supreme-courts-conversion-ruling-means-and-why-it-matters/

March 2, 2021 | Haviv Rettig Gur
About the author: Haviv Rettig Gur is the senior analyst for the Times of Israel.

After letting the question remain unsettled for some time—apparently in the hope that the Knesset would take action—Israel’s high court yesterday ordered the government to recognize conversions to Judaism conducted by Reform and Conservative rabbis inside the country. Haviv Rettig Gur explains what’s at stake, beginning with what the decision doesn’t do:

[The ruling] does not require the ḥaredi-controlled state rabbinate to recognize Reform and Conservative conversions. Only the Interior Ministry must do so. And . . . the Interior Ministry has for two decades formally accepted Reform and Conservative conversions conducted overseas as conferring the right to citizenship under the Law of Return.

Monday’s ruling is, in a sense, very narrow. It instructs the Interior Ministry (but not the rabbinate) to recognize as Jewish for the purposes of immigration (but for no other purposes, such as marriage or burial) only those few Reform and Conservative conversions conducted each year inside Israel. That’s the change.

While the number of people affected by the ruling is very small, Gur explains that its repercussions are likely to be great, for two reasons:

First, in recognizing, for the first time, [non-Orthodox] conversions done inside Israel, the state of Israel will necessarily be recognizing in a formal way the Reform and Conservative movements themselves, the institutions that are doing or have done the converting. Second, coming just 22 days before the election, the ruling promises to become a rallying cry for religious conservatives and liberals alike.

Very little is likely to change in the life of Reform and Conservative converts because of Monday’s ruling. But Israel itself will change. If the ruling stands, it will mark a watershed in state recognition for Jewish religious options long rejected by Orthodox political parties and the state rabbinic apparatus.

Read more on Times of Israel: https://www.timesofisrael.com/conversion-ruling-ends-decades-of-official-shunning-of-reform-conservative/