Le dirigeant de la commission Législative et Judiciaire de la Knesset, l’un des plus importants députés religieux Menahem Bensasson (Kadima), a appelé à rompre le monopole du rabbinat central sur les conversions et les mariages. Bensasson s’est exprimé suite à la publication par le journal Haaretz de la mise en place du forum de conversion pluraliste formé par la coalition d’organisations qui formeront un tribunal religieux qui fera concurrence au rabbinat central et fera des conversions laïcs et orthodoxes .
« Je pense que le monopole du rabbinat au sujet des mariages et des conversions et le monopole des tribunaux rabbiniques sur les divorces a besoin d’être réformé », a dit Bensasson. Selon lui, on ne peut pas laisser les conversions entre les mains des tribunaux du rabbinat central car le résultat est un taux de conversion faible. « A mon avis, l’initiative de former des centres de conversion pluralistes est très positive », a ajouté Bensasson, soulignant qu’il soutenait non seulement la conversion orthodoxe et libéral, mais aussi celle des autres courants du judaïsme. « Les orthodoxes ne sont pas propriétaires d’un style de vie », a expliqué Bensasson, selon qui la conversion doit obéir au principe « qui veut se convertir, convertissons le ».
Selon le journal Haaretz, le lobby laïc à la Knesset et plusieurs organisations pluralistes de tous les courants du judaïsme ont décidé la semaine dernière de former une coalition de tribunaux de conversion qui ne sera pas liée au rabbinat central. Le projet est que la nouvelle coalition centralisée par l’organisation Panim, comprenne deux types de conversions qui n’existent actuellement pas en Israël : la conversion laïc et la conversion nationale religieuse qui ne seraient pas dépendantes au rabbinat central. Ces deux derniers types de conversions viendraient s’ajouter aux tribunaux du mouvement réformé et du mouvement conservateur (Massorti ) qui convertissent actuellement en Israël 300 personnes tous les ans. Les conversions des tribunaux appartenant à la coalition ne permettront pas de se marier au rabbinat central, mais selon la décision de la Cour suprême, le ministère de l’Intérieur sera obligé d’enregistrer les personnes qui s’y convertissent comme juifs.
Orthodoxes modernes contre la Rabbanout
L’une des nouveautés de cette coalition est la coopération de l’organisation orthodoxe des Fidèles à la tora et au travail (Néemané tora veavoda) à un forum qui reconnaît les conversions des réformés, des conservatives et des laïcs. Le directeur de Néemané tora veavoda, Yonathan Benaroch, a dit au cours du dernier débat du forum de conversion pluraliste que son organisation prévoyait de mettre en place des tribunaux de conversion indépendants en coopération avec les organisations Impasse (Mavoï satoum) et Ta voie au féminin (Koleh).
Dans la charte du nouveau « forum de conversion pluraliste », il est expliqué que « 300 000 des immigrants qui bénéficient de la loi du retour ne sont pas reconnus en Israël comme juif. La majorité d’entre eux sont intégrés en Israël et partagent notre destin mais ne sont pas acceptés dans le peuple juif : ils sont rejetés, éloignés et n’ont pas de droits civiques ». Le nouveau forum affirme également : « L’opportunité donnée au rabbinat central par l’Etat d’apporter des solutions à la conversion en Israël est un échec. Il faut lui enlever le monopole ».
Validité juridique des conversion non orthodoxes
Ce qui est nouveau c’est que c’est le cas de celles effectuées en Israël. celles faites en diaspora ont toujours été reconnues.
La Haute Cour de justice israélienne a reconnu la validité de l’adhésion au judaïsme de candidats qui vivent en Israël, y ont préparé leur conversion, puis l’ont confirmée devant des rabbins « réformés » ou « conservateurs » à l’étranger. (en Anglais)
Voir également http://www.massorti.com/-En-Israel-.html
The following editorial appeared the Jerusalem Post by our past president, Reuven Hammer.
The hysterical reaction of Orthodox spokesmen to the decision of the Supreme Court concerning conversion is Israel was to be expected. Anything which impinges upon the Orthodox monopoly in Israel is seen by them as a dire threat. Nevertheless would it have been asking too much to expect that they would register indignation and protest without resorting to exaggeration and falsification of the facts ? I suppose it is easier to make a case if you are not confused with the facts, so let me attempt to supply some of the facts and set the record straight.
1. Fiction. These were “quickie conversions.” Fact. The conversions that were under discussion were performed at the conclusion of a long process of preparation and reflected a considered decision of rabbinical courts here that the candidates were acceptable. The comparison that one important rabbi made to “going overseas for one day, receiving a medical degree there and coming back to practice in Israel” is so ludicrous that I doubt even he believes it. All of these people had studied in recognized, well-planned programs of conversion for at least a year, in many cases much more. The went overseas for a short time to appear before a court there and undergo the actual process of conversion only because the Ministry of the Interior here had indicated that it would not recognize their conversions if they took place in Israel, while according to Israeli law and previous court decisions conversions done overseas must be recognized in Israel. If conversions done here by the courts of the Conservative and Reform Movements would be recognized by the State - as the court decision seems to imply should be the case - there will be no need to send candidates abroad.
2. Fiction. The floodgates have been opened to the mass conversion of foreign workers. Fact. In all the years I have served as head of the Rabbinical Court for the Masorti Movement not one “foreign worker” has been converted nor is there the slightest chance that this will happen in the future. As a court that respects itself and adheres to the highest standards of Jewish Law, each candidate is carefully examined and if there is the slightest suspicion that the candidate wishes to convert for the purpose of attaining Israeli citizenship or economic gain and not because of a genuine desire to become a Jew, we will not accept the candidate. Furthermore the Ministry of the Interior has the right to reject a person if there is reason to suspect that the conversion was not proper. There is no truth in the allegation that now anyone can convert overseas easily and that will be accepted or that any rabbi in Israel can prepare such a candidate and send him or her overseas. There is only one conversion court for the Masorti Movement in Israel- and the same is true of the Reform Movement. No individual rabbi or group of rabbis can convert here. Therefore only those candidates that we accept in our court can become converts and I hope that our integrity will not be questioned.
3. Fiction. A totally new situation has been created by this decision that for the first time allows citizenship for non-Orthodox converts thus endangering the Jewish nature of the State. Fact. All this decision has done is to widen the scope of what has been the case for decades. Those converted by Conservative or Reform courts overseas have for years been entitled to make Aliyah and receive citizenship under the Law of Return. There must be hundreds of such people living here for years. Furthermore, the Ministry of the Interior consults with the Israeli office of the Rabbinical Assembly to verify if a conversion done overseas by a Conservative rabbi was valid and we always investigate to make certain that was done properly by an authorized court. There may be problems concerning the Jewishness of the State of Israel, but that has not been one of them. The fact that the Chief Rabbinate will not marry such converts is nothing new. That has always been their policy and undoubtedly will not change. All the more reason to divest them of that monopoly as well - something that I am certain will happen sooner or later. I can also testify that the converts we have accepted in Israel are people who treasure Judaism and truly wish to identify with the Jewish people. They are people who add to the Jewish nature of the State. I wish that the average Israeli were as knowledgeable and as observant of Judaism as many of those I have been privileged to convert.
4. Fiction. Only conversions performed by Orthodox rabbis have halakhic standing. Fact. All that is needed for a conversion to be halakhic is that it be performed according to certain standards. Rabbis are not needed at all. It is obviously beyond the scope of this paper to deal with all the aspects of this question, but suffice it to say that the halakhic requirements for conversion are simply that the person be informed “some of the easier and some of the more severe commandments” (Yevamot 47 a-b), that the convert “accepts the yoke of the commandments” (Shulhan ArukhYore Deah 268), that there be immersion in a mikveh and circumcision for males. There is no requirement for rabbis to be present (Yevamot 46b and see Rashi to Kaddushin 62a). Nevertheless it has been the practice for rabbis to supervise the process, but were the Orthodox authorities willing to follow the halakhah, they would be able to accept as converts anyone whose process has followed the above - certainly after the fact. I cannot speculate as to what prevents them from doing so.
5. Fiction. For $10,000 anyone can go overseas and get a non-Orthodox conversion. Fact. There has never been a case of Conservative or Reform conversions being performed for bribe money. It was not a Conservative court that gave a quickie conversion to a foreign basketball player, nor were they Conservative rabbis who were accused and convicted in Israel a few years ago of taking bribes to “expedite” the conversion process.
6. Fiction. The Supreme Court has been guilt of judicial activism. Fact. The Court has taken years to reach this seemingly simple decision and did so only in the lack of legislative activity to define the situation. If anything the Court has shown inordinate restraint in this matter. It has not even yet, after decades of deliberation, make the clear statement that conversions by non-Orthodox courts in Israel are to be recognized for purposes of the Law of Return. This recent decision indicates in many ways that such is the case, but it has not been stated. On the contrary the Court has constantly called upon the Knesset to decide on these matters. The fact is that the Court has done nothing by decide what is the law on the basis of current legislation. On that basis, it is clear to everyone that there is no law in Israel giving the Chief Rabbinate sole jurisdiction over conversion, there is no law that says that only conversions done by any particular Orthodox group here are to be recognized. Furthermore the Law of Return does not specify that it applies only to conversions performed overseas. Therefore to expect the Court to take any other stand would mean asking it to falsify the law or to refuse to state what the facts of the case are and what they imply.
The world of Judaism today is a complex one. There is no one religious authority recognized by all Jews. The majority of the world’s Jews are not Orthodox. Certainly in America - North and South - the majority belong to either the Conservative or Reform streams of Judaism. If the State of Israel is to consider itself connected to the Jewish People as a whole this must be taken into consideration. If the State expects world Jewry to relate to it positively it simply cannot deny the validity of the streams of Judaism to which world Jewry belongs. If the State of Israel wishes to reflect the highest standards of democracy and freedom of religion, it cannot continue to hold on to an outmoded monopoly in religious life that no longer even reflects the reality of life in Israel. This decision of the Supreme Court is another step in the right direction but even more must be done for complete freedom of religion and equality of the streams is to be realized here.
The writer is the Head of the Rabbinic Court of the Masorti Movement and the Rabbinical Assembly of Israel.