Jewish Agency and Jewish Federations Welcome Netanyahu's Stance Against the Conversion Bill

July 19, 2010 / 8 Av 5770 

The Jewish Agency and Jewish Federations call for a dialogue that will help preserve the positive aspects of the bill while preventing rupture in the Jewish people

The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Jewish Federations of North America welcome and support Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's clear stance against the passage of the conversion bill of MK David Rotem in its present form.

In his stance, the prime minister has shown leadership and commitment to preserving the unity of the Jewish People.

The essence of the bill – allowing potential converts to choose from among the country's municipal rabbis – is a welcome and important initiative. However, amendments made to the original bill would for the first time exclude vast segments of world Jewry by establishing a religious standard for conversion in Israeli civil legislation.

In addition, the bill that was presented to the Knesset Law Committee last week included a clause that denies the right to automatic Israeli citizenship for non-Jews who convert to Judaism in Israel. This would, for the very first time, create a class of Jews – ironically, all of whom are Orthodox – who are ineligible to be Israelis.

According to Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, “We believe the proposed legislation to be profoundly damaging to the State of Israel. At a time when world Jewry stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel against a vicious multi-front campaign of delegitimization, this bill is seen in large parts of the Diaspora as delegitimizing their own religiosity and Jewish identification.”

Jewish Federations of North America President and CEO, Jerry Silverman added, “We call for all parties to respect the direction suggested by Prime Minister Netanyahu and enter into a serious dialogue in order to bridge the disagreements over this bill. We believe that through such dialogue, the positive and necessary elements of the bill can be preserved without creating a rupture in the Jewish people.”

For further information contact:
Michael Jankelowitz,
Liaison to the Foreign Press, Jewish Agency for Israel
Mobile: +972-52-6130220;
Voice-mail: +972-2-620-2780



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20 Jul 2010 / 9 Av 5770 0