JERUSALEM (Feb. 2)
Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi, Itzhak Nissim, called today for the creation of a special “beit din”–rabbinical tribunal–to devote itself exclusively to the handling of conversion cases. Rabbi Nissim’s statement was the first public response from the rabbinate to last week’s Cabinet decision to investigate ways to speed up the conversion process. It presently takes about three years. Rabbi Nissim said the proposed tribunal would gather valuable experience and hasten the process considerably. He made a similar proposal two years ago but it was rejected by the Supreme Rabbinical Council, mainly because of opposition from the Ashkenazic rabbis. The Cabinet has named a ministerial committee to discuss the matter of conversions with the Chief Rabbinate. It consists of Minister of Justice Yaacov Shimshon Shapiro, of the Labor Party and the Ministers of Interior and Religious Affairs, Moshe Shapiro and Zerach Warhaftig, both of the National Religious Party.