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Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, issued a statement today on the proposed conversion bill introduced into the Knesset on May 10th, 2017, by Israel’s Ministry of the Interior, led by Shas MK Aryeh Deri:
MK Deri’s proposed legislation has the virtue of honesty. He believes that only Orthodox religious authorities should be recognized by the State of Israel, so his legislation would make clear that non-Orthodox Jews in Israel will be treated as second-class citizens – and that non-Orthodox Jews around the world will only be fully welcome in Israel if they submit to the Orthodox monopoly.
That is MK Deri’s view and the view of his party. It is not, however, the message of Israel’s Declaration of Independence or of the Israeli Supreme Court, or the view held by most Israelis. It is most emphatically not the view of the Reform Jewish Movement – and we are prepared to lead the charge against this noxious bill.
This proposed legislation is another step down a path of eroding the rights of non-Orthodox Jews in Israel and creating a monopoly on religion, to be led by the official government rabbinate. It is a direct insult to much of world Jewry and a danger to the unity of the Jewish people. It is also a threat to the independence of the Israeli judicial system.
We urge the Israeli government – beginning with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – to reject this attempt to bypass the country’s Supreme Court and, in doing so, to send a clear signal to the majority of Jews in Israel and around the world: that the joy of Judaism is not a wholly owned subsidiary of the Chief Rabbinate.