Even though the Knesset is not in session our work continues. We are still trying to ensure that the conversion needs of Russian olim are met without handing authority over the issue to the Chief Rabbinate in Israel
A series of meetings and phone conversations are being held regularly among the coalition partners: the Reform, Conservative, and Federation movements and the Jewish Agency for Israel. Private one-on-one meetings are taking place with key members of Knesset and influential leaders and opinion-makers in the Jewish community in the United States. We continue to raise our voices through op-ed pieces and letters to the editor of Jewish newspapers throughout the country. Rabbis Eric Yoffie and Daniel Allen and Chairman Peter Weidhorn are addressing this subject to all American Reform households through the Reform Israel Appeal.
We urge you to continue to raise this subject with any local visiting Israel Government officials, Israeli Consular and Embassy staff, and with your Federation Community Relations apparatus. Our movement in Israel is strong and growing stronger. We can all make a positive difference for Israel and Jews world wide to continuing the growth of our movement in Israel.
July 21st Update from Israel: Success in Stopping the Vote
Success was achieved today in stopping a Knesset vote on the conversion bill. No issue in recent memory has so mobilized Jews from all streams and all parts of Israel and the Diaspora as has the bill proposed by MK David Rotem to vest authority for conversions in the hands of the Chief Rabbinate. Tens of thousands of emails and faxes against the bill received by the Prime Ministers office supported the conviction that the faith and practices of the overwhelming majority of the worlds Jews must not be delegitimized.
The Knesset has now adjourned until October. While a vote on the bill was prevented this week, there is more to be done. Over the next few months, we will continue to work with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Jewish Agency Chairman Sharansky, and MK Rotem to craft a bill that addresses the problems that currently characterize the conversion process in Israel and that respects all streams of world Jewry.
Sunday, July 11th, abruptly and with no warning, a committee vote was held on the bill sponsored by Member of the Knesset David Rotem that poses a dangerous threat to the rights of Conservative, Reform, and all non-Orthodox Jews, who comprise the overwhelming majority of world Jewry.
It has evoked the staunch, determined opposition of the vast majority of North American Jewry including the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist Movements, the Federation system and individual organizations like the American Jewish Committee. Read More>
Although some American Jewish leaders said this week that they will be entering upcoming negotiations over the proposed Israeli conversion bill free of preconceptions, a leader of Reform Jewry said there remains a "red line" for his movement.
Many American Jewish leaders are relieved that the conversion bill sponsored by MK David Rotem did not come up for a vote in the Knesset before its summer recess, but they are still reeling from the turbulence it has caused, and hope that the three months until the legislature reconvenes will be used to revise or block it.