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Chief Rabbinate Council Issues Decisions Designed to Ease Conversion to Judaism

The Chief Rabbinate Council issued two decisions yesterday designed to ease conversions to Judaism. The Council waived the one-year waiting period for immigrants from countries with no recognized rabbinical courts and approved a shorter conversion process. The decisions were expected to be chiefly beneficial to non-Jewish partners in mixed marriages and to Soviet immigrants. Of the latter the Council declared: “For dozens of years our brethren in the Soviet Union have been subjected to a regime of spiritual oppression aimed at uprooting them from their Jewish heritage and affirmity to Israel. Their awakening over the past two years and their heroic struggle for aliya to the Holy Land (are) among the great phenomena of our generation.” The Council statement stressed that the new decisions referred only to procedure and not to the substance of the conversions, which remain under halachic (Jewish law) jurisdiction. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency has learned, however, that the Chief Rabbinate has in fact agreed to make concessions on matters of substance as well, since otherwise the new rulings would be almost pointless. This follows, it was learned, heavy pressure from several Labor Alignment members of the Cabinet, including Premier Golda Meir. The Alignment reportedly threatened serious legislative measures against the Rabbinate if it did not yield on the conversion process for non-Jewish spouses and children of immigrants.

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