Chief Rabbinate Meddles in Aliyah Regulations for Converts

from The Jerusalem Post:

Who’s an (Orthodox) oleh?

The Chief Rabbinate, Interior Ministry and State Attorney’s Office are currently drawing up new procedures to determine the validity of Orthodox conversions for the purpose of aliya, Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar said on Wednesday.

Amar was speaking during a special meeting of the Knesset’s Aliya, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee that was summoned in the wake of Orthodox conversions not being recognized for the purpose of aliya by the Interior Ministry, due to the fact that it consults with the Chief Rabbinate on the validity of Orthodox conversions.

The Chief Rabbinate, however, reached an understanding with the Rabbinic Council of America a few years ago according to which it would only recognize conversions conducted in 11 new regional rabbinic courts.

That recognition is for purposes of Judaism according to Orthodox Halacha, and was apparently not intended to determine Israel’s civil policies regarding those individuals, especially at the same time Reform and Conservative conversions in established such communities are recognized by the state for citizenship.

The situation that resulted from the Chief Rabbinate’s halachic decision, which Amar said was motivated by the desire to create order in the diverse world of North American Jewry, as well as isolated incidents of corruption by conversion courts, is that Orthodox converts from established Jewish communities wishing to make aliya, who did not undergo the process in the RCA regional courts, are not only rejected by the Chief Rabbinate as non-Jews, but even by the State of Israel’s Interior Ministry.

There are currently at least six such cases of Orthodox converts wishing to make aliya awaiting the Interior Ministry’s decision on their cases.

In response to what appeared to be a growing problem, the Jewish Agency last month appealed to the Interior Ministry for a more dominant role in identifying established Diaspora communities as such.