June 22, 2004
Top Diaspora leaders lobbied Israel's president and justice minister Monday to open up the conversion process in the Jewish state.
The delegation said it was especially concerned about the plight of as many as 300,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union who are not Jewish according to Jewish law but may want to convert. "Obstacles are being thrown in their place," said Robert Goldberg, chairman of the United Jewish Communities federation umbrella group of North America. Goldberg headed the delegation, which included the leaders of Reform, Conservative and Orthodox movements in North America as well as an official from Canada representing Keren Hayesod.
Conversion in Israel is overseen by the Orthodox-run Chief Rabbinate, which has been criticized for being overly stringent in its conditions for converting immigrants from the former Soviet Union, a charge the rabbinate denies.
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