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Judicial Conversion in Israel – Legal Information

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I had a consultation with Batya and she was very helpful. She made sure I understood all the information I needed, and was patient with me in gathering documents I needed.

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I received a recommendation from friends about the firm, and indeed every word is correct, a service team, professional, welcoming, a fair price for the work I requested, I am satisfied

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We came to Mr. Joshua with so many questions (and most of all, with so many concerns and worries) …

When we explained our case to him, first of all, he calmed us down and helped us to see the big picture, which took away our fears;

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We thank and highly recommend Mr. Joshua for showing us so much empathy, care and professionalism (!)

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We (myself and my husband) came to Mr. Joshua Pex – for his professional advice – and we received such human warmth and caring attitude, that our hearts melted …

His attention to our details and our situation peculiarities, combined with his professionalism and knowledge, helped us to map out what needs to be done on our part: we appreciate and recommend You, Mr. Joshua!


We had a pleasure of working with Irena Rosenberg who assisted in getting our two U.S. born children registered in Israel and supported visa process for my wife in 2021. During the pandemic, my wife and I decided to move to Israel where I am originally from after living in the U.S. for over 20 years, but we had no idea how to go about securing visas before and after arriving in Israel. Irena is knowledgeable, reliable and competent lawyer who always had answers to all our questions which made us feel confident that everything would be fine with her assistance. We are now happily living in Israel and are so grateful to have Irena who is a genuinely nice person as our lawyer.

TarcisioePotira Freitas

I really recommend the law office's services. The service is very professional and efficient, the price is right. I am satisfied with the services I needed and happy to have known them.

Yossi Montrose

Very knowledgeable and professional

Наталья Мажуга

Great lawyers Joshua Pex and Nechama and Michael Deker who really want to help you and I have very trustful relationships with them. All my cases they took they won. Thank you and let’s keep working together

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I have been receiving services from this Law Firm for several years now and I want to say THANK YOU to the team, especially Joshua Pex. They are doing outstanding work. The services I have received for both our Israeli non profit association but also our social business have helped us solve many issues at hand and provided solutions in complicated situations. Personally, I am grateful for support in visa issues as a foreigner living now in Israel for many years.

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The best lawyer firm I’ve had dealt with. I would like to thank Anat Levi and Ariel Galili from the Jerusalem branch for all of their efforts and patience, we could not have been Able to reach to where we are now without them

Genaan Abdelall

I cannot recommend Nechama enough! Her expertise, professionalism, and dedication to her clients is unparalleled. From the moment I reached out to her, she provided clear and concise communication, and helped me navigate through a complex legal issue with ease.

Throughout the entire process, Nechama went above and beyond to ensure that I was informed and comfortable with every decision. She demonstrated a deep knowledge of the law, and was able to offer sound advice that ultimately led to a positive outcome.

What sets Nechama apart is her compassionate and empathetic approach to her clients. She truly cares about the well-being of her clients, and it shows in the way she handles every case.

If you are in need of a lawyer, I highly recommend Nechama.

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I am delighted to report that my wife and I have just obtained our Israeli citizenship. We will be forever grateful for all of the help, guidance and support which Ariel Galili of Decker, Pex & Co. provided through this process.
I am a Jewish, 80-year-old American, and my wife is not Jewish. We had started the process on our own back in November 2020 via the Jewish Agency and Nefesh B’Nefesh, but soon became entangled in the delays and often-changing regulations due to Covid-19. The pandemic also caused delays in obtaining the required apostilles for various documents from various state agencies and the US State Department.
We found Decker, Pex & Co. On the internet and began working with Ariel in late November 2021. Ariel did a superb job of leading us through the process, helping us to understand which documents were essential, which would most likely be required, and which, though included on the list of required documents, were rarely required. He helped us several times to understand what was likely and unlikely to occur as “the next step.” Helping us manage our expectations was extremely useful to us.
Besides his knowing the laws, regulations and procedures, Ariel also made us feel that he was truly interested in helping us to successfully work through this process in as smooth, timely, and frustration-free manner as possible.
My wife and I strongly recommend anyone planning to go through this process seriously consider hiring Decker, Pex, Ofir & Co. and, specifically, Ariel Galili.

Gáspár Erőss

If you need to solve any complicated legal issue in Israel, don't hesitate to contact them. Otherwise you will loose hours/days/weeks with things that they can solve in minutes. They helped me to obtain my expert working visa in Israel and even after that they responded further questions and gave me advices related to administrative issues in Israel which saved me a lot of time. Irena Rosenberg and Michael Decker worked on my case, they are very professional and helpful. They will not let you down, feel free to contact them.

Michelle Long

Josh has been helping me on and off for a few years now. I have needed legal advice and assistance with immigration due to a complex situation of mine, and he has been extremely available and responsive, honest and clear about my route and how to proceed. Very much recommended!

Michael Soffer

I would like to recommend Attorney Yehuda Elcharar. He assisted both me and my company in a complex lawsuit. He handled negotiations that led to a favorable outcome much quicker than expected.

I am extremely pleased with choosing Attorney Elcharar. Many thanks also to the office team, Oz and Chaya, for their assistance throughout the entire process.

Thanks again ????

Andreas Kelling

We have been working with Decker, Pex & Co - Law Firm in Tel Aviv for many years very well. Because we appreciated their lawyers services, we recommended businesses and individuals again and again to go there as well.

Adi Katina

Great Team. With no doubt, this office is actually thee best-leading office in Israel. Simply put, if you want your case to win, just join them, hand in your documents, and celebrate the victory.

Kindest regards,
Adi k.

Jacob Newberry

A really excellent firm. They knew exactly how to handle my situation effectively and efficiently, and we got the result I needed without much fuss. Adi Berger was a wonderful advocate for me and I am deeply grateful for her help!

Paul Prince

The team of lawyers and assistants are incredibly professional. Aiming to give their clients the advice possible regarding the normative and the law of Israel. With well trained and professional secretary at the front desk to the lawyers team, I could say that I had one of the most professional services possible. I'm super glad of choosing Joshua Pex of Law office for immigration solution, lawyers to advise in my case, to me, it is remarkable.

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Incredibly knowledgeable, approachable, accessible, and evident across the board that they truly care about the people they are helping. They are quick to respond, engaged, and obviously top-notch lawyers. I couldn't recommend them highly enough. Thank you, Joshua and Itamar for your help with our Joint Life Application. You were a calming energy during a storm - always breathed a sigh of relief after speaking with you. It is so difficult to get straight answers from the Misrad Hapnim, but you guys are straight shooters. I appreciate your candor and evident integrity. Hope to work with you in the future, and will send everyone I know in need of legal aid your way. Thank you for your guidance and support.

Prima Lorenzo

I admire the Austrian citizenship team in Tel-Aviv branch! They deserve more then 5 stars!! They are very friendly and professional. I've got Austrian citizenship in 4 months for all family members which consists of 12 people! The entire team is very friendly and responsive. They are always answering questions and support during the process. I recommend to everyone. Was 100% satisfied.

Joshua Pex was both an amazing human being and an inspiring human rights attorney. I reported directly to him for various activities I performed as in intern. I was impressed with his incredibly solid character. He is trustworthy, fair, and goes above and beyond to advocate for the vulnerable. He is completely trustworthy and high caliber in his work. His partners and employees are very blessed to work with him. I am honored to know them.

Heather Lebrun

Dongdiet & Nellie

We are very happy with the services. Somehow they managed to translate the law lingo into language we actually understand 😉 and their outstanding YouTube videos helped us to have a better grasp of what process we had to go through. Their patience, clear explanation and experience are very valuable. It's also very nice to know that you will receive response promptly; it made us feel we can really trust their services. We recommend all those looking for immigration lawyers to get in touch.

Marce Ruth St. Rey

Party time in the heart, my beloved husband received his residence after so much time of battles and faith. Gratitude, God has blessed us with wonderful beings who have accompanied us, including a "precious angel" who touched our hearts, our excellent and fantastic lawyer: Maria Chernin Dekel, sweet and wonderful human being, who has guided us and stayed On our side. side in this intense legal transit whom we bless on every occasion. God bless you dear Maria, you have exceeded your professional duty by containing us and collaborating with us in hard times, very hard, for that we want to thank you publicly, you are unique!!!
We bless and thank the entire team at Decker Pex Tal Ofir Law Firm.

Lauma Zariņa

This is definitely the best lawyer I know!!! very honest and super helpful he really helped me a lot dealing with immigration issues in Israel and it was very successful!
I highly recommend

Michael and Ariellah Waizman

For Advocate Joshua Pex.

We were in a devastating situation when my wife received an order from the immigration office to leave Israel within 30 days, without any explanation, after we have been married and in the process for six and a half years. We heard of Advocate Pex through a friend of a friend. We contacted Mr. Pex and he was ready to help us when he heard of our situation.

The service is amazing! Always ready to assist without regard to the time it takes. The advice Mr. Pex gave us was great, such as what to do, he gave useful links, and advice about which officials to contact. The price for the service was great!

The process until we received the extension for another year for my wife was not long (3 months). Things started moving once Mr. Pex came into the picture.

We highly recommend Advocate Joshua Pex! We achieved our goal and the fear of deportation has been lifted!

Dumitrascu Cristina

Best lawyer house from Israel! I couldn’t dealt with my situation without their professionalism and effectiveness. Their dedication to every legal aspect and their drive it’s how a true lawyer house can be!
Working in European market and international now, I couldn’t dare to let myself wide my wings on countries unknown to me. Definitely they’ll be the lawyers representing me, my business at every international aspect and on personal development.
When you hear Decker,Pex,Ofir &Co, you hear 10+ class services, luxurious professionals, confidentiality and exclusive attention to your needs.

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Extrmely friendly, professional and helpful. A big thank you to Irina especially from the Jerusalem office. Highly Recommended.

The Issue of Conversion in the State of Israel’s Legislation

The process of judicial conversion allows a person belonging to another religion to convert to Judaism. The Law of Return of 1950 defines a Jew as someone who is born of a Jewish mother or who converted, and does not belong to another religion, and thus is able to make Aliyah (immigrate) to Israel. Despite the great importance of the topic of conversion, even to this day this area has not been fully or comprehensively settled through the law. The activity of the state conversion system and the religious courts designated for conversion has been regulated through a number of government decisions, according to which the authority to convert is given to the state orthodox conversion system alone.

Our law office specializes in matters of Aliyah and obtaining official status in Israel. In the past we wrote on the subject of the right to immigrate to Israel after conversion. As mentioned, the State of Israel and immigration authorities do not want the process of Aliyah after changing religion to Judaism to be simple and easy. If anyone in the world could have the ability to be approved based on conversion to Judaism, and thus immigrate to Israel, there is a concern that many will claim that they have converted, only so that they can receive Israeli citizenship.

The information in this article, by Advocate Joshua Pex, is a simplification of a complicated legal issue that is laden with many various elements. Nevertheless, in this article we will explain the legal background of the law of conversion in the Israeli justice system, as well as the recent developments that are important to know about.

The Judicial Conversion Process in the State of Israel

Judicial Conversion

As stated above, conversion procedures and legal status in Israel rely less on regulation in the law and more on government decisions. Mainly, government decisions no. 3155 (2/ע) on the date of 14.2.2008 and no. 3613 on the date of 4.7.1998.

The Supreme Court warned about the absence of laws in the area of conversion in a number of decisions, among them the Supreme Court decision 7625/06 Martina Ragchova v. Ministry of Interior, which was given on the date of 31.3.2016 and dealt with the question of whether or not to recognize a private orthodox conversion that is not within the confines of the state conversion process for the purposes of the Law of Return, that is, for the purposes of receiving Aliyah and citizenship in the State of Israel.

This revolutionary decision by the Supreme Court established that petitioners who passed through a conversion process in the private beit din of Rabbi Karelitz—in Bnei Brak—would be recognized as Jews as concerns the Law of Return. The decision opened the door to the submission of additional petitions to recognize Reform and Conservative conversions for the purposes of the Law of Return.

Response to the Supreme Court Decision on Ragchova – Memorandum of State Conversion Law

Supreme Court decision on Ragchova created an upheaval among many groups, chief among them the members of the ultra-orthodox factions in the Kenesset, who strongly opposed the recognition of a conversion that is not orthodox from the State. In response to the Supreme Court decision on Ragchova, in May 2017 the members of the ultra-orthodox factions presented a memorandum to the state conversion law before the Ministerial Committee of Legislation. The goal of the suggested law was to bypass the ruling that the Supreme Court case of Ragchova established and strengthen the standing of the state religious courts of conversion as the only entities allowed to perform legally recognized conversions in Israel.

On 25 June 2017 the Ministerial Committee of Legislation approved the memorandum; the decision was received almost unanimously – the only one who objected was Sofa Landver, who filed an appeal against the decision of the Ministerial Committee, thus halting the progress of the legislation. In October of 2017, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed Moshe Nissim to head the Ministerial Committee which would give its recommendations and conclusions regarding the issue of conversion. 

The Nissim Committee – Conclusions and Results

Mr. Moshe Nissim submitted a detailed report that examined the issue of conversion in depth, and presented a “friendly” approach to those seeking to convert.

In consideration of the Nissim Committee’s recommendations, a new state conversion law bill was introduced on 5 October 2018, initiated by Member of Knesset Yehuda Glick. Up until the date this article was written, the bill has still not been decided on, and it ignited great opposition from the ultra-orthodox political parties, because of the lenient approach it introduces.

The lenient approach, amongst other things, is expressed in section 22 of the proposal, in which it is suggested that instructions about conversion of foreign nationals be solidified. In the explanation of the conversion law bill it states that:

These instructions are intended to strike a balance between the necessity of the State to ensure that the conversion procedures will not be abused in order to obtain legal status in Israel or financial benefits, and between the necessity to respond to those who sincerely wish to join the Jewish people. These instructions are intended to make it easier to receive decisions concerning foreign nationals.

The condition for the conversion of a foreign national will be receiving approval from the committee of two members which appoints a conversion judge that serves in the highest position, and a representative from the Minister of Interior’s office. The rest of the instructions that were intended, as stated, to prevent an abuse of conversion proceedings will be established with regulations that will be implemented by the Minister of Interior in consultation with the Minister.

Jewish Community Recognized for the Purpose of Conversion

This lenient approach is also expressed in section 31, in which it is suggested that instructions concerning the recognition of converts who went through the process abroad be solidified. The explanation says:

This article in effect safeguards the ruling of Judge Barak Supreme Court 2597/99 Toshbaim vs. Minister of the Interior, P.D. (6) 721. This ruling says that a conversion that takes place in a recognized Jewish community abroad will be recognized for the purposes of the Law of Return. In accordance with this ruling the State also has the right to establish rules and conditions which will prevent misuse of conversion for the sake of acquiring economic rights or for any other reason apart from joining the Jewish people. In accordance with what was stated above, rules have indeed been established by the Ministry of Interior. Therefore, it is advised to authorize the Minister of Interior, in consultation with the Minister, to establish regulations, as already stated.

In defining the concept of a “recognized Jewish community” it says that this refers to an established and active community, possessing a common and well-known Jewish identity, possessing set frameworks of how the community operates and belonging to one of the streams of Judaism that is recognized by the global Jewish population. This definition includes the Reform and Conservative Jewish communities. Therefore, the meaning of this legal section is that conversions that take place in Reform or Conservative communities abroad will be recognized for the purposes of the Law of Return and for the purposes of being registered as a Jew in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. On the other hand, these conversions will not be recognized for the purposes of matrimony within Israel or for receiving religious services as a Jew in Israel.

Implementation of Conclusions Reached by Nissim Committee and Supreme Court Decision on Ragchova—Current Legal Situation

In conclusion, in spite of the Supreme Court’s decision on Ragchova and the parliamentary efforts to further the issue, the Knesset has not yet approved the state conversion bill that was presented by Member of Knesset Yehuda Glick. As of today, we find ourselves in the interim period of Supreme Court decision on Ragchova and the report from the Nissim Committee.

The tendency in the case law is to make things easier for the converts while at the same time being strict that those going through a legal conversion are not abusing the system in order to obtain status in Israel or financial benefits. Therefore, as long as the Knesset does not legislate the state conversion law, the courts will examine each specific request in accordance with Supreme Court decision on Ragchova. For example, Supreme Court 4870/17 Eleonora Ashtifani vs. Ministry of Interior, in which the convert—who converted through a private orthodox beit din—petitioned to be recognized as eligible for the Law of Return by virtue of her conversion. In his decision, the honorable Judge Vogelman noted:

It should be stated immediately that we did not find any grounds to prevent us ruling on the petition placed before us. The fundamental decision concerning the orthodox conversions that are not performed through the state conversion procedure was given in the case of Ragchova more than two years ago. The respondents are obligated to act in accordance with this decision, regardless of future legislative procedures, and in petitions concerning conversions performed within the Conservative and Reform movements.

Other conversion related verdicts by Israeli courts

An additional example of the implementation of the Ragchova decision can be seen in Supreme Court 4535/11 McLaren vs. Ministry of Interior (26.9.2016) in which it was decided that a lawful stay in Israel during the time of the conversion allows for the recognition of the conversion, even if it is not within the bounds of the state conversion system. 

In the ruling on motion 65786-03-17 Anonymous vs. Ministry of Interior et al., which was given on 20 August 2018, the request of a female converting was decided upon—an Israeli citizen who passed through the conversion process of the organization “Giyur KeHalacha,” a private beit din in Israel—to have her religion registered as Jewish in the population registry (the honorable court was not requested to recognize the conversion for purposes of the Law of Return). The court accepted the request of the woman converting and issued a declarative ruling that in light of the (private) conversion process that the petitioner passed through, she is a Jew for the purposes of registration with the population registry.

Nevertheless, conversion procedures through private religious courts in Israel – Reform or Conservative – are currently not recognized in an blanket manner for the purposes of the Law of Return, and every request is examined, and it will be this way until the issues of conversion are settled in a comprehensive manner and fully regulated legislatively.

Contact Lawyers for Immigration to Israel 

Our office specializes in representation of clients before the Ministry of Interior for immigration to Israel, Aliyah, and obtaining legal status for foreign nationals. If you have any doubt that Israeli authorities will recognize your conversion, or that of a relative or family member, contact us. Set up a meeting with a lawyer in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem to receive help concerning legal conversion, state conversion, and other immigration issues.

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