We remain concerned, even after yesterday's meeting, that this legislation would drive a dangerous wedge between the State of Israel and Diaspora Jewry ....
June 9, 2010 (New York, NY) A high level meeting focusing on the so-called "conversion bill" before the Israeli Knesset was held in New York yesterday between leaders of the Reform, Conservative (Masorti) and Reconstructionist Movements and Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, and Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren.
The following statement was released by those present at yesterday's meeting (Dr. Carl Sheingold, Executive Vice President of the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation; Mr. Richard Skolnik, President, United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism; Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, Executive Vice President of the Rabbinical Assembly; Rabbi Steven Wernick, Executive Vice President of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism; and Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President, Union for Reform Judaism);
We appreciate the opportunity to discuss the conversion bill directly with the Foreign Minister and his distinguished colleagues.
Our meeting yesterday was an important step in increasing understanding of our concerns about this proposed legislation which would for the first time place legislative authority for conversion under the offices of the Chief Rabbi. We remain concerned, even after yesterday's meeting, that this legislation would drive a dangerous wedge between the State of Israel and Diaspora Jewry, 85% of which is not Orthodox.
Our meeting yesterday was one in a series of conversations and communications we have had with Israeli political leaders on this critical issue. As we have consistently said, and as we reiterated yesterday, conversion must not be tied to one religious stream or point of view. Any legislation pertaining to conversion is by its nature directly linked to the Law of Return and is therefore a matter affecting the world Jewish community.
We note that Prime Minister Netanyahu will be coming to the United States at the end of the month. We hope to discuss our concerns with him directly at that time.
As we continue to voice our concerns regarding this proposed legislation, we also emphasize our steadfast love and commitment to the people and State of Israel, who must continue to live with the unceasing threat of numerous enemies and to defend themselves against terror, as evidenced by the recent flotilla incident.
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For further information on this statement, please contact Shira Dicker at the Rabbinical Assembly at 917/403.3989, firstname.lastname@example.org or Deborah Goldberg at the Union for Reform Judaism at 212/650-4153, email@example.com.