JERUSALEM, Dec. 30 (JTA) — A Jerusalem court has ordered Israel’s Interior Ministry to recognize as Jewish 23 people who underwent conversions by the Reform and Conservative movements. In its ruling, which boosted pluralism efforts in Israel, the court opposed the stance of Interior Minister Eli Suissa of the fervently Orthodox Shas Party, who has refused to recognize the conversions. Despite the ruling, which ordered the ministry to register the petitioners as Jewish on their identity cards, Orthodox authorities will likely continue to refuse to recognize the converts and deny recognition of their marriages and burials. But the court’s decision, which gives recognition to the converts in all civil affairs, was nonetheless hailed as a breakthrough by the Reform and Conservative movements. Rabbi Uri Regev, director of the Reform movement’s Israel Religious Action Center, called the decision “revolutionary.” “The ruling reinstates the lost dignity of dozens of converts and their families, who were unjustly disqualified by the interior minister,” Regev said, adding that the court’s decision “applies not only to those involved in the case, but opens a wide door for thousands of new immigrants and others who seek to convert.” The ruling drew a rapid response from Orthodox Knesset members, who are hoping to enact legislation that will bypass the court ruling. The chairman of the Knesset Legislative Committee, Hanan Porat of the National Religious Party, has introduced legislation stipulating that the Interior Ministry recognize only Orthodox-performed conversions.
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