Ending the Orthodox Monopoly on Adoptions

4 May 2023

This past Sunday, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of a petition by the NIF grantee the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), the action arm of the Israeli Reform Movement, and against the Orthodox monopoly of conversion of non-Jewish children adopted in Israel. Previously, newly adopted non-Jewish children had to go through Orthodox conversion and could only be raised by Orthodox parents. This ruling ends that practice.  

The petition was first submitted to the High Court in 2003 by IRAC. After the ruling by the nine-judge panel, the state agreed to consider each adoption case individually and will end its practice of handing oversight of conversions to the Chief Rabbinate. 

Attorney Nicole Maor, director of the legal aid department for immigrants for IRAC, who has represented the movement since 2003, said, “After many years, the Ministry of Social Affairs has finally agreed to cancel this discriminatory and invalid policy. The practice that the conversion of adopted children should only be allowed by the rabbinate hurt not only the children who were waiting for adoption, but also the basic human rights of equality, parentage, and religious freedom for the families waiting for adoption.”

Rakefet Ginsberg, CEO and Executive Director of the Masorti (Conservative) Movement in Israel said, “There is more than one way to be Jewish, as the High Court of Justice has been compelled to rule time and time again on issues and injustices that have come before it. There is no reason for the State of Israel to align itself with the strictest orthodoxy and deny rights and opportunities to Conservative, Reform Jews, and others.”