Masorti Conversion in Israel
Some remarkable Israelis have linked their lives with the Jewish people—their heartwarming stories demonstrate perseverance and commitment to the welcoming Masorti tradition.
However, conversion in Israel is not simple.
Following a 2002 Supreme Court ruling, the State of Israel recognized Masorti conversions and allowed converts to be registered as Jews with the Ministry of the Interior for purposes of citizenship. But the official State Orthodox Rabbinut still controls marriage, divorce and burial laws in the country, and the Rabbinut does not recognize Masorti conversions.
Notwithstanding the obstacles, thousands of Israelis have chosen to convert with the Masorti Movement, which established its Conversion Institute in 1992.
History was made again in 2016. In a binding decision, the highest court in the Israeli justice system ruled that the State must allow Conservative and Reform conversion candidates to immerse themselves in mikvahs under the supervision of the Ministry for Religious Affairs, thus putting an end to the discrimination practiced prior to this ruling.
The case was brought by The Masorti (Conservative) Movement and the Reform Movement in Israel and the favorable decision represented an important step towards religious freedom. However, the matter did not end there. A bill proposed in the Knesset by Ultra-Orthodox members, and subsequently passed in late July of 2016, circumvents the recent ruling by the Supreme Court and instead of allowing the Reform and Conservative movements to use public mikvahs for their conversion ceremonies, specifically bars them in the first piece of discriminatory legislation to pass. A further rider was added to another bill, calling on the State with the help of the international Jewish community, to build four new mikvaot for the use of the Reform and Masorti communities. This also passed, sparking a great deal of debate. On the one hand, some people would rather go to a mikvah run by our movement as they feel it will be warm and welcoming, as evidenced by the video. On the other, discrimination, of any kind, seems wrong.
The ongoing controversy further validates the Masorti Movement position: Israel must be a state for the whole of the Jewish People.