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Israeli Conversion Bill Meets Opposition From American Jews 


by Joseph Ernest July 22, 2010


Newscast Media — Jewish leading figures in Israel have received opposition from American Jews who are against the conversion bill that is making its way through the Knesset. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said over the weekend, the disagreement over a controversial law that deals with conversion to Judaism could “tear apart” the Jewish community.

There is a big difference between American Jews and Jews in Israel. Most American Jews are secular Jews who belong to more liberal branches of Judaism, while in their homeland, the Orthodox Jews tend to live more conservative lives based on the Mosaic law. The Mosaic law includes numerous rules of religious observance given in the first five books of the Old Testament. The books are: Bereshit(Genesis), Shemot(Exodus), Vayikra(Leviticus), Bamidbar(Numbers) and Devarim(Deuteronomy). In Judaism, these books are called the Torah, or “the Law.”

Currently in Israel, conversions performed outside the country by the more liberal branches of Judaism are honored. American Jews are afraid that the status of newly converted Jews could be nullified if power is handed over to the rabbinate.

Rabbi Daniel Allen, director of the Association of Reform Zionists of America said, “We do not want to see a schism among the Jews of the United States and Israel. This will say to the Jews of the United States that they don’t have a serious place in this country, and that is unacceptable to us.”

American Jews are worried that if the Knesset passes this bill, it would give sole control over conversions to Israel’s chief rabbinate, which is dominated by Orthodox Jews.

Rabbi Allen said, “This would be an affirmative act of the Knesset to create a second class of Jewery. And therefore it is a much more important moment in time in terms of the sweep of Jewish history.”   add Comments>>








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