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June 24, 2010 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2010-06-24

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Troublesome Conversion Bill
NEW YORK (JTA) -- American Jewish
leaders said they remain concerned about
Israeli conversion legislation following a
meeting with high-level Israeli govern-
ment officials.
Leaders of the Reform, Conservative
and Reconstructionist movements
met in New York to discuss a conver-
sion bill with Israeli Foreign Minister
Avigdor Lieberman, Deputy Foreign
Minister Danny Ayalon and Israeli U.S.
Ambassador Michael Oren.
"We remain concerned that this leg-
islation would drive a dangerous wedge
between the State of Israel and dias-
pora Jewry, 85 percent of which is not
Orthodox',' read a statement released on
June 9 by meeting participants.
The pending legislation would empow-
er any rabbi who is or was on a district
rabbinate in Israel, or was or is the chief
rabbi of a city or town, to perform a con-
version for any Israeli regardless of place
of residence. This would free would-be
converts from the discretion of the spe-
cial conversion courts and eliminate the
curricular requirements for converts,
leaving conversion to the discretion of
local rabbis.
Under the proposed law, conversions
could be voided only if the rabbinical
court that conducted the conversion
determined it took place under false
pretenses, subject to the approval of the
president of the national Rabbinic Court
of Appeals.
Also, a convert seeking to marry, but
encountering obstinacy at his local rab-
binate could return to the rabbinical
court that converted him to acquire his
marriage license.
Critics say the bill does not go far

enough to ease the conversion pro-
cess, expands the power of the Chief
Rabbinate, delegitimizes non-Orthodox
conversions and does nothing to secure
recognition in Israel for conversions per-
formed in the diaspora.
"As we have consistently said, and as
we reiterated yesterday, conversion must
not be tied to one religious stream or
point of view," the statement from the U.S.
religious leaders said.
"Any legislation pertaining to conver-
sion is by its nature directly linked to
the Law of Return and is, therefore, a
matter affecting the world Jewish com-

Israel's Critics

The Charge
Al Jazeera TV host Riz Khan charged
last week that Israel is clamping
down on internal dissent in the case
of Knesset member Haneen Zoabi.

The Answer

Zoabi was aboard the Gaza flotilla
and has been fiercely critical of the
Israeli navy's actions in that incident.
She has received much criticism from
some in the Israeli press and even
from fellow Knesset members. But
that is all part of a normal, robust
debate in Israel's democracy — the
opposite of what Khan charges.

- Allan Gale

Jewish Community Relations Council


of Metropolitan Detroit

Renaissance Media, June 24, 2010

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