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Cabinet delays vote on military conversion bill

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Cabinet postponed a vote on a bill requiring the recognition of all military conversions.

The vote on the Israel Defense Forces conversions bill, scheduled to be held Sunday, was postponed in part to avoid a coalition crisis. The bill, introduced by Yisrael Beiteinu lawmaker David Rotem, still could be introduced Wednesday as a private Cabinet member’s bill.

The haredi Orthodox Shas Party has objected to the bill.

The measure would protect Israeli soldiers who have converted to Judaism through military conversion courts from having their conversions overturned. 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.

Netanyahu reportedly said that the coalition would work to solve the disagreement in a way that would respect the Chief Rabbinate and Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar. Amar has said that he would resign from this post if the IDF conversion law is passed.

Last September, a state prosecutor argued before Israel’s Supreme Court that conversions of Israeli soldiers by the military rabbinate are not valid. The court hearing was  addressing the refusal of town and city rabbis to register converts for marriage.

About 4,500 soldiers, the majority of them women, have converted to Judaism while in the Israeli military.
 

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