JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar said he will no longer be responsible for any state conversions if the Knesset passes a bill requiring the recognition of all military conversions.
In a letter sent to Benjamin Netanyahu, Amar called on the prime minister to prevent the bill from passing, The Jerusalem Post reported Tuesday.
Amar has charged a committee to look into legal and halachic issues surrounding the military conversions. He asked Netanyahu to allow the committee to conclude its work before allowing the legislation to go forward.
“I see in this bill no concern for the soldiers undergoing conversions, rather a clear directive of destroying religion in Israel," Amar’s letter reportedly said. "This is to inform you, that if this bill passes, I won’t be able to take care of all matters of conversion, and will no longer bear the responsibility for them.”
The haredi Orthodox Shas Party also called on Netanyahu to quash the bill, telling him Tuesday that it is a breach of coalition agreements with Shas, Ynet reported,
The bill to protect Israeli soldiers who have converted to Judaism through military conversion courts from having their conversions annulled was approved Sunday by the Knesset’s Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs. It would force all state agencies, including rabbinic courts, the chief rabbis of cities and other Orthodox marriage registrars to accept the converts as Jews.
In September, a state prosecutor argued before Israel’s Supreme Court, during a court hearing to address the refusal by town and city rabbis to register converts for marriage, that conversions of Israeli soldiers by the military rabbinate are not valid. About 4,500 soldiers, the majority of them women, have converted to Judaism while in the Israeli military.