Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled on the country’s most important Jewish identity dispute, stating that more non-Orthodox Jews can immigrate to Israel and become citizens.
Israel’s “Law of Return” grants citizenship to any Jew from around the world, but there is controversy over granting Zionist state citizenship to those who enter Judaism from other religions.
Extremist Jewish groups in Israel have been calling for strict Orthodox conversion, while less-than-conservative and reformist movements say they offer leniency and a solid alternative solution.
It has been a tradition in Israel so far that conservative and reformist religious conversions are recognized abroad for citizenship, but not at the local level.
The Supreme Court has ruled that it has been fighting a legal battle for the past 15 years, citing a lack of emphasis on the issue by the government. Non-Orthodox conversion will also be sufficient to obtain citizenship. However, the court did not specify how many such changes have traditionally taken place each year.
The court said that the decision was only interpreting the existing law while the parliament could make a different arrangement by amending the law at any time.
Israel’s interior minister and ultra-Orthodox rabbi called the court’s decision “very unfortunate” and said he would work to amend the law to allow conversions only under strict Jewish law.
Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid welcomed the court’s ruling, saying “we all need to live together here with mutual tolerance and respect.”