Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

7 Nissan 5762 - March 20, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Internal Affairs Ministry Lists Reform Converts in Violation of Minister's Directive
by Betzalel Kahn

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon set up a team last week headed by Communications Minister Reuven Rivlin to evaluate various solutions--including legislative reform--to the problem of listing Reform and Conservative converts as Jews based on the recent High Court decision.

At the meeting attended by Rivlin, Internal Affairs Minister Eli Yishai and Knesset House Committee Chairman Rabbi Moshe Gafni, Sharon announced that setting up the problem-solving team, which includes representatives from every party in the coalition, is in accordance with the coalition agreement signed by United Torah Jewry and is consistent with the government foundation agreement.

The special team was designated just one day after the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee decided to delete the "Nationality" line on national identification cards, though the decision is to take effect only 40 days later.

The same day Attorney General Eliakim Rubinstein instructed Yishai to begin listing Reform and Conservative converts as Jews in the population registry immediately.

The Attorney General's firm order, transmitted to the Internal Affairs Minister via Attorney Osnat Mendel, head of the Justice Ministry's High Courts Department, was sent just days before deliberations on a High Court petition by Reform and Conservative converts alleging that Yishai was in contempt of court by issuing instructions to list goyim who undergo Reform or Conservative conversions to be listed as Jews "according to the High Court ruling."

Following the Attorney General's order the Internal Affairs Minister issued a special announcement stating that he had instructed Population Administration Director Herzl Gedz not to register the petitioners until after the High Court deliberations scheduled to take place a few days later, but according to the Attorney General, Gedz listed them as Jews despite the Minister's instructions.

In the announcement Yishai states, "In light of the High Court ruling that registration is merely a technical and statistical matter, I believe that in addition to the fact that, despite the High Court ruling, the question of registration could divide the Jewish people, as a public official I have the responsibility to find a solution amenable to all concerned parties. Such a solution was indeed achieved through an impressive majority in the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee. In similar cases, when other questions of great public impact were on the agenda, the [High] Court and certainly the Attorney General did not hesitate to grant an extended stay in order to adjust the legal situation to fit the new ruling."


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