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February 06, 1970 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1970-02-06

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Law of Return Amendment Alters
Israel's Position on Conversions

(Continued from Page 1)
In Israel, where Orthodoxy is

the only officially recognized
branch, the chief rabbinate alone
decides who is qualified to perform
conversions, but the vast majority
of conversions to Judaism abroad
are performed by Conservative
and Reform rabbis. The proposed
amendment to the Law of Return
takes this into account and pro-
tects immigrants converted io
Judaism abroad from being de-
clared non-Jews on their arrival in
The measure was passed by the
ministerial committee against
negative votes by the NRP, the
leftist Mapam and the independ-
ent Liberals, which opposed it for
entirely different reasons.
Arye Dulcin, representing the
liberal wing of Gahal, (Herut-
Liberal alignment) abstained.
While the government took

steps last week to nullify the
Supreme Court ruling that Israe-
lis can have Jewish nationality
without being Jewish by religion,
an Israeli naval officer had the
satisfaction Sunday of seeing his
two native-born children regis-
tered as Jews even though their
mother is not of the Jewish faith.
The two minor children of Lt.

Commander Benjamin Shalit and
his Scottish-born wife were offi-
cially designated Jewish by na-
tionality by the population regis-
trar in Haifa where the Shalit
family makes its home. Previous-
ly, their birth certificates had
stated "Jewish father, foreign
mother," leaving the Israeli
youngsters in a bureaucratic limbo
as far as their national status was
concerned. It was to rectify this
that Commander Shalit sued the
government. He was upheld by a
majority decision of the Israel
Supreme Court. But that ruling
aroused the storm of protest from
Israel's rabbinate and Orthodox
circles here and abroad, forcing
the government to take quick
steps to overrule the court. The
Orthodox insist that Halakha-
Jewish religious law—must apply
in all matters of personal status.
According to Halakha, a person is
Jewish only if born of a Jewish
mother or converted to Judaism.
The controversy over the legal
definition of a Jew continued un-
abated in Israel. A Peale
Agudat Israel deputy, Rabbi Kal-
man Kahane, asserted that
the proposal to give partners of
mixed marriages equal rights to
Israeli citizenship with Jews would
encourage mixed marriages. Rabbi
Shlomo Lorincz of the same party
agreed. Moshe Sneh, a Communist
Party deputy, called the cabinet
action "a blow to democracy."
Supporters of the HaOlam Hazeh
faction staged a minor demonstra-
tion Thursday in Tel Aviv where
the cabinet met.
It was learned that Mapam ca-
binet members voted against the
proposed amendment, as did
Moshe Kol of the Independent
Liberals and two Liberal minis-
ters of the Gahal f a c t ion,
Dulcin --and Elimelech Rimalt.
The Independent Liberal execu-
tive decided to vote against the
measure in Knesset if it is based
on the principles approved by the
cabinet. ■

Cut Imports of Lands
Friendly to Israel, Arab
Countries Are Urged

LONDON ,(JTA) — The seven
member nations of the Arab Eco-
Actinic Unity Council, meeting in
Cairo, have- recommended that

Arab countries- reduce their im-
ports from nations friendly to Is-
rael and give preferential treat-
ment to the Communist, African
and Asian countries.
It also recommended favored
treatment for countries such as
France and Spain, which were re-
garded as pro-Arab. The council
consists of Egypt, Jordan, Syria,
Iraq, Sticlan, Kuwait and Yemen. ,

Ile declared with bitterness
that "sometimes it seems" as if
the Israeli rabbinate "thinks we
live in a remote small township
in Europe of many years. We

have problems and we have a
state, and the rabbis should con-
sult other people before making
decisions." Ile added that he had

asked the Israeli rabbinate to
make conversion to Judaism a
and not to
make "so many difficulties" for
those willing to convert to Juda-
ism. Some members of the party
executive attacked him for criti-
cizing the rabbinate.
In defending the cabinet pro-

simpler procedure

posal, Shapiro said on the
radio that only an "ignoramus"
could argue that the cabinet had
acted to overturn the Supreme
Court ruling. He declared that the
Supreme Court had held only that
the instructions of the interior
ministry on registration of appli-
cants, requiring withholding of
registration of an applicant as a
Jew if he or she either had a non-
Jewish mother or had not been
converted to Judaism under Jew-
ish religious law, were not binding
in law. The minister added that
the cabinet had acted to make
such instructions law. The rabbin-
ate last week issued an "isur
Torah," a virtual religious ban, on
anyone signing documents design-
ating as Jewish a person who is
not Jewish according to religious
In a related decision, the cabinet
appointed a special ministerial
committee to look into the rabbin-
ate's conversion procedures to see
if they could not be speeded up.
The committee consists of Minis-
ter of Justice Shapiro and the
ministers of interior and religious
affairs, Moshe Shapiro and Zerach
Warhaftig, both of the NRP.
The proposed amendment to the
Law of Return also stated that no
person will be registered as Jew-
ish who was converted to another
faith even if born of a Jewish
mother. Nor will non-Jewish
spouses and children of new immi-
grants be accorded the same privi-
leges as Jews if they are Jewish-
born but converted to a different
religion. The Supreme Court has
already ruled that the term "Jew"
shal not be applied to Jewish con-
verts although the Orthodox ad-
herents of religious law claim that
such conversion counts for noth-
ing and that a born Jew is always
a Jew no matter what religion he
In Lakewood, N.J., a conference
of American Orthodox rabbis urged
Premier Golda Meir to take the
lead in nullifying the Supreme
Court decision. About 500 rabbis
attending the mid-winter confer-
ence of the Rabbinical Council of
America, passed a resolution as-
sailing the Israeli high court's rul-
ing. Rabbi Zeev Segal, president,

claimed that it "represented one
of the greatest dangers to survival
in the history of the Jewish peo-
Three Israel Supreme Court
justices accused the government of
behaving with "bureaucratic rigid-
ity, like in Czarist Russia or in
Saudi Arabia." The angry charge
was made at a hearing in the case
of Lawrence Goldberg, an Amer-
ican student who appealed to the
Israeli Supreme Court after the
ministry of interior refused to ex-
tend his visa so that he could
complete his studies here. The case
was heard by Justice Joel Sussman,
Alfred Witkon and Zvi Berinson.
The government's position was
argued by Deputy State Attorney
Michael Hashinf. A compromise
was reached granting a visa ex-
tension on condition that Gold-
berg does not use his studies as an
argument if he decides to apply for
another extension after his two-
year permit expires.
Goldberg originally applied for
immigrant status under the Law of
Return, asserting that he feels
Jewish and Israel is his home. The
young man's father is Jewish but
his mother and his wife are Chris-
tian. According to Jewish religious
law, Goldberg is not a Jew.
His petition for immigrant status
was denied by the ministry of in-
terior. The ministry also refused to
extend his visa. The three SuReme
Court justices maintained that the
applicant was not obliged to "make
the authorities happy." They said
"All he wants to do is study, and
elsewhere in the world, people pride
themselves on being friendly to
In another decision on the issue,
the Supreme Court refused to order
the regisration as Jewish of the
children of a Tel Aviv lawyer,
J. Ben Menashe, against the will
of their father. The government
registration office demanded that
the children be registered as Jews.
But Ben Menashe said he is a
non-believer and does not want
them so registered. The high court
instructed the clerk to leave blank
their religious and national affilia-
tion which, according to the Ortho-
dox view, is one and same thing.


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Friday, February 6, 1970-5

Teens Endorse Teaching of Yiddish in Temples

NEW YORK (JTA)—Six of eight
teen-age panelists have strongly
endorsed the idea that Yiddish
should be taught in Reform reli-
gious schools, while the other two
expressed the view that Yiddish
was either a dying or a dead lan-
guage which had no place in reli-
gious education for Jewish chil-
The views of the teen-agers,
four boys and four girls from the
eight grade of the religious school
of the Union Reform Temple of
Freeport, N.Y., were described in
a feature, "Let's Face the Issue,"
appearing in Keeping Posted, a
publication of the Union of Ameri-
can Hebrew Congregations, the
central agency for American Re-
form congregations.
The majority view contended
that "Yidish should be taught be-
cause most Jews all over the

world speak it." Many of the pro-
ponents of Yiddish cited the wide-
ning public interest in the works
of Yiddish authors, such as Sholom
Aleichem, and said Jews should
be able to read those writings in
the original.



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