What significance is the decision of the Israeli Supreme Court in recognizing Conservative and Reform conversions? The URJ applauded it, but what does the decision really mean?

Additional information... As far as I know, the Israeli government is not a halachic authority. So for them to recognize Conservative and Reform conversions, does that only apply to matters directly relating to the current state of Israel? Do the various Orthodox groups have to change their views of these conversions? Are they Jews for burial purposes?

What did this decision change? Why is the decision significant for Conservative and Reform Judaism?

  • Can you define your question better, please? The ruling was that those who converted "heterodox" in Israel were supposed to be treated as Jews vis-a-vis the law of the State of Israel. (This gave them the same status as those who converted "heterodox" outside of Israel and then moved to Israel.)
    – Shalom
    Jan 14 at 2:42
  • It doesn't carry halachic weight, but it can lead to mistaken assumptions with tragic consequences.
    – shmosel
    Jan 14 at 3:15
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    Religiously nothing. In terms of civil law, he is officially registered as a Jew, not sure this has much day-to-day implications. But he could ask to be buried as a Jew, i.e., in a cemetery for Jews
    – mbloch
    Jan 14 at 7:16
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    It gives them more political strength in Israel. They see it as breaking Orthodoxy's iron grip on the Israeli public. Tomi Lapid (Yair's dad) reportedly once said that he would never step into a synagogue, but that synagogue would be an Orthodox one. That's reflective of what most Israelis think about Reform and Conservative - essentially not Jewish. Such a court ruling may work in favor of heterodox groups such as the so-called "Women of the Wall".
    – Harel13
    Jan 14 at 11:18
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    That's actually not a "Judaism" question per se, and it's really not a subject on which I'm knowledgeable. But as I understand it, their children would be given automatic "right of return" entry to Israel. Probably a question of the Political Science Stackexchange on what rights/benefits are offered by the Israeli government to those it considers to be Jewish over others. Sorry we can't help you here. (As you see, you're getting a lot of strong opinions about this from a religious perspective, but that's not your question.)
    – Shalom
    Jan 14 at 11:59

1 Answer 1


With all due respect, this question’s premise is flawed. By significance you mean in what respect? By halachic significance, the rules for conversion are the same since the Talmud, a convert is expected to accept the commandments of the Torah in front of a Beit din of three observant male Jews over bar mitzvah age. People who call themselves reform or conservative Jews almost never live up to the halachic standard of observance or demand converts accept the Torah fully, so they are not halachic. The Israeli supreme court is a secular institution with no significance for the Orthodox Torah world. Reform and conservative “converts” have the Halacha status of a gentile.

If you’re asking about social status, that is off topic, this is a Judaism stack exchange, not a politics or sociology one. In general though most Israelis are totally secular or orthodox. Liberal “religion” isn’t a popular thing in Israel baruch hashem.

  • I clarified the question. It's not a question about who's conversion is better or why their's is wrong. I'm trying to find out what that court decision did. If Reform and Conservative groups celebrate it, why? What changed? Just a citizenship status or where they can be buried? Jan 14 at 7:14
  • @Kirk The Israeli Supreme Court is, from the perspective of the Orthodox Torah world, just like any other high court in a modern, non-Jewish, secular state. That means that the general principle of Dina d'Malchuta Dina applies. In context, recognition by that court would relate to people in those denominations who would be considered for automatic citizenship in the secular state of Israel. Israeli citizenship does not confer status as a Jew according to halacha. The position of that court leads to an increase in division and tension among Jews in Israel. Jan 25 at 19:55
  • @Kirk When the entire Orthodox Jewish population moves to Israel, become citizens and vote in a unified manner, then the problem will be rectified. The solution is through true Jewish unity, not hatred. Jan 25 at 20:20

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