Monday, July 06, 2015

Israel's Cabinet Strengthens Ultra-Orthodox Control of Religious Status Matters

Times of Israel reports that Israel's Cabinet on Sunday took two steps that place personal status matters of Israeli Jews more firmly under control of the ultra-Orthodox rabbinate.  First the Cabinet withdrew a measure that made its way through the Knesset's Law Committee last year that would have expanded from four to thirty the number of religious courts that could conduct conversions to Judaism.  The new courts made up of municipal rabbis would have loosened somewhat the tight restrictions on conversion presently in effect.  The second Cabinet vote placed rabbinical courts under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Religious Services instead of the Justice Ministry which oversees Christian and Muslim religious courts.  The change places rabbinical courts-- with their authority over marriage and divorce-- under the authority of Religious Affairs Minister David Azoulay who belongs to the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party. These steps resulted from the coalition agreements negotiated between political parties after the most recent Knesset election. (See prior posting.)