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March 09, 1990 - Image 10

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-03-09

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

OPINION

6

ONE
WEEK
ONLY

.90/04c 4c

APIA on
,1
SOC

Rabbinical Perestroika

Continued from Page 7

UP 7.

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ELI

10 FRIDAY, MARCH 9, 1990

Absorption Minister Rabbi
Yitzhak Peretz — of the
ultra-Orthodox Sephardi
Shas party — have already
announced that they are
aware of the magnitude of
the problem, but that no at-
tempts will be made to com-
pel the olim, whose Jewish
pedigree is in question, to
convert. Special ar-
rangements are being made
to set up special conversion
courts and procedures for the
large number of non-Jews
among the olim, but no coer-
cion will be used.
Additional statements
have been made, however,
that when these olim and
their children eventually
have recourse to the rab-
binical courts, for marriage
and the like, no concessions
will be granted in checking
their Jewish pedigree.
If we are to judge from the
rabbinate's insensitivity in
dealing with Ethiopian olim
in this regard, we can be
sure that this field will pro-
vide us with no end of
troubles for many years to
come.
Ideally, the fight should be
mounted for a reverse
amendment to the Law of
Return which would abolish
all religious definitions of
Who is a Jew, and accept the
principle that any person
who declares his affiliation
to the Jewish people in good
faith will be legally accepted

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as a Jew. This will require a
major political fight, for
which the country may not
be ready.
Of much greater impor-
tance than the legislative
aspect, however, is the social
one. When I met Mikha
Chlenov in Moscow two
years ago, he told me that he
doubted he would come on
aliyah because he was fully
aware of the nasty at-
mosphere in Israel regar-
ding the treatment of the
non-Jewish spouses of olim,
and he was unwilling to sub-
ject his own wife to such
treatment.
This is a shameful situa-
tion. It is crucial that as
many of us veteran Israelis
as possible go out of our way
to make it clear to the new
olim that they are all
welcome, regardless of how
the rabbinate chooses to
define their identity, and
that we accept their act of
aliyah as a sincere declara-
tion of their intent of affilia-
tion with the Jewish people.
If enough of us behave in
such manner in our social
contacts, the field will be
prepared for the eventual
adoption of legislation to
formalize that definition.
We will not be able to con-
tinue sweeping the problem
of Who is a Jew under the
carpet for much longer.

Jerusalem Post Foreign Service

I LETTERS

I

Continued from Page 6

limited to the small number
within our community whose
counterparts in Israel have
been banned from participa-
tion in the electoral process
because of their extremism.
Moreover, the alleged inci-
dent cited by the writer of a
NJA member returning from
a visit with Palestinian
Liberation Organization
Chairman Yassir Arafat to
receive a standing ovation for
saying "Today I am a PLO
Arab" certainly never occur-
red in our community. As a
long-time Agenda activist, I
seriously doubt that it hap-
pened anywhere. In any
event, such sentiments are in
no way representative of the
views of the membership or
leadership of JNA either
locally or nationally. While
we believe that a settlement
between Israel and the PLO
is in the best interests of both
the Israelis and the Palesti-
nians, we reach this conclu-
sion — in the words of our na-
tional platform — "as Jews
committed to the existence of
Israel."

The policies of the Jewish
right wing are increasingly
being recognized by more and
more of American Jewry as
contrary to the best interests
of Israel. The most recent ex-
amples of this include the
condemnation by the Na-
tional Jewish Community
Relations Advisory Council of
the settlement of Soviet Jews
in the territories and the poll
by the Israel-Diaspora In-
stitute showing more than 70
percent of American Jewish
leadership supports direct
Israeli-PLO negotiations.
Such events have caused the
more extreme elements sup-
porting the Likud — and
those to its right — to become
increasingly isolated and
desperate in their efforts to
crush dissent. JNA has
become a primary target.
However, as Chaim Shur,
editor of the peace publica-
tion New Outlook recently
said:
"New Jewish Agenda takes
no stands that aren't also
held by many members of
Mapam, Rat and even Labor.

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