Ruling Due on Whether Woman Converted by Reform Rabbi Can Register As Jewish

The Supreme Court will rule shortly on whether an American woman who was converted to Judaism by a Reform rabbi in Israel is entitled to Jewish nationality under the amended Law of Return. The court issued an order nisi yesterday requiring the Interior Ministry to show cause why Mrs. Helen Zeidman should not be registered as Jewish by nationality and religion. The amendment to the Law of Return, which the Knesset passed Tuesday, defines as Jewish any person born of a Jewish mother or converted to Judaism. Mrs. Zeidman, who was non-Jewish, came to Israel in 1964 and married a member of Kibbutz Nahal Oz in 1967. She was converted to Judaism by rabbis of the Progressive Judaism movement, an adjunct of the American Reform movement. The Orthodox rabbinate in Israel does not recognize conversions by any but Orthodox rabbis. But the amended Law of Return stipulates only that conversion is a requirement for Jewish nationality. It contains no qualifications implying that only Orthodox conversions can turn a non-Jew into a Jew.

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