The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today welcomed the formation of an alternative private Jewish conversion court by a group of leading Orthodox Zionist rabbis in Israel. ADL called the court “an important initiative for Israel and the Jewish people.”

The new court, known as Giyur Kehalacha (conversion according to Jewish law), is headed by Rabbi Nachum Rabinovitch, includes a number of leading Israeli rabbis including David Stav and Shlomo Riskin, and will serve as an alternative to the Israeli Rabbinate’s conversion courts. The court’s formation comes in reaction to the Israeli government’s recent decision to reject proposed legislation which would have allowed regional rabbis to establish local conversion courts, thereby easing the conversion path for tens of thousands of Israelis.

“The decision to form a private Jewish conversion court is an important initiative for Israel and the Jewish people,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL National Director. “This venture is a positive step forward in efforts to further Jewish inclusivity in Israel, and will provide Israelis with a much needed alternative to the Israeli Rabbinate’s obstructionist and cumbersome conversion process, specifically for tens of thousands from the former Soviet Union who are not considered by Israel to be legally Jewish.”

Mr. Greenblatt added, “We hope rabbinic authorities in Israel, the U.S. and across the world will respect the legitimacy of this newly formed court, which has committed to ‘fulfilling all Halachik (Jewish legal) requirements for conversion.”