July 20, 2010
Israeli Prime Minister Netenyahu has come out against bringing the Rotem conversion bill to the Knesset this session. While there is no absolute certainty the bill will not return in some form in the future, we wanted to express gratitude to all of you who sent e-mails, faxes, or made calls to lobby against this divisive bill. Working together with the Conservative and Reform movements, North American Federations, and as members of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, along with so many progressive Jewish organizations, we made our voices heard.
For more information about JRF's statements and positions on Israel, please visit http://jrf.org/israel/statement-and-resources.
July 16, 2010
Dear Rabbis, Cantors, Staff, Lay Leaders, and Members of JRF Communities,
We write to you again today following up on a similar e-mail a few weeks ago. This week, despite commitments to the contrary, the Israeli Knesset is considering legislation that would fundamentally change the Law of Conversion and further concentrate power with the Chief Rabbinate.
This new legislation would roll back the clock on all the achievements we have made for Reconstructionist, Reform and Conservative conversion rights in Israel: not only losing recognition for Reconstructionist, Reform and Conservative conversions in Israel, but even completely redefining who is a Jew. From now on the power to perform conversions would rest solely with the Chief Rabbinate which only recognizes Orthodox conversions.
This decision, which affects the very definition of who is a Jew for all of Klal Yisrael, is being made by a few politicians who happen to be in power during the 18th Knesset. They are not at all in conversation with world Jewry, on whom this decision will have a major impact.
At your next Jewish gathering, take a look at the people around you: chances are good that you are sitting next to someone who would no longer be considered a Jew in Israel.
There are millions of Jews in North America and elsewhere outside of Israel. The current Israeli leadership needs to hear from all of you and right away if we are going to stop this. We ask you to send urgent messages of protest to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to your ambassador from Israel.
We need the strength of your numbers to remind those who promote this bill that Israel and Judaism are not theirs alone.
It is critical that Prime Minister Netanyahu hear a loud and clear message from Diaspora Jewry that further alienation of non-Orthodox Jews goes against our deeply held beliefs in Klal Yisrael and creates a dangerous rift between Israel and world Jewry at a time when the relationship between North America and Israel is so vital.We urge you to contact the Prime Minister your Ambassador to Israel and share your concern over the future of religious freedom in Israel, the character of the Jewish State, and the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora. We also ask you to forward this urgent call to your friends and family.
Robert A. Barkin, President
Dr. Carl Sheingold, Executive Vice President
Jewish Reconstructionist Federation Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
July 16, 2010
The Honorable Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister of Israel
Office of the Prime Minister
Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu,
We write to request your immediate intervention to prevent passage of the legislation being brought forward by MK David Rotem.
We are deeply concerned about the intention to grant the Chief Rabbinate sole control over conversion in Israel. Such legislation would be an open attack on the legitimacy of non-Orthodox Jewry, which composes the majority of world Jewry. In addition, passage of this bill would have the effect of altering the Law of Return, or, at the very least, cause undue hardship to anyone in Israel who come from Diaspora communities and seek to convert in Israel.
While we are supportive of efforts to create greater accessibility to conversion courts in Israel, the overall impact of the Rotem Bill will set back these efforts. Should this bill be enacted, it will exacerbate a widening gap between the Jewish communities in the Diaspora and in Israel, which we are working very hard to avoid.
Therefore, we believe it is imperative that you, as leader of Israel, and as one who cares deeply about the well-being of Klal Yisrael, intervene and urge immediate withdrawal of this bill.
Prime Minister Netanyahus office: Prime.Minister'sOffice@it.pmo.gov.il
U.S. Ambassador Michael Orens office: firstname.lastname@example.org
Canadian Ambassador Miriam Zivs office: email@example.com