Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Photo: AFP

PM: Conversions bill won't cause a rift

Controversy over conversions bill grows, as Conservative, Reform movements warn Orthodox dominancy would 'cause irreparable rift' in Israel. Netanyahu promises final legislation would ensure people's unity

"Any legislative agreements on conversion will ensure the Jewish people's unity," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said recently, in a calming message to Jewish leaders in Israel and the Diaspora.


Reform and Conservative leaders, both in Israel and abroad, expressed concerns that the government's proposed conversions bill would cause a social rift.


Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser stressed the Netanyahu was committed to seeing the matter through with the utmost sensitivity to all parties' stances.


Attorney Yizhar Hess, who heads the Conservative Movement in Israel, welcomed Netanyahu's "appeasing statement," adding that the bill, initiated by MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu), could cause a rift within the Jewish people.


The Conservative Movement, he added, is expecting the bill to be pulled.


"Orthodoxy is a minority within the Jewish people. The majority are Conservative and Reform. The Jewish State cannot estrange itself from the Jewish people – it will cease to exist if it does."


Jerusalem fears that the current conversion bill may also affect the Diaspora's sentiment towards Israel.


Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, in a letter to JA trustees, warned against "an irreparable rift" with Reform Jews, and the "destructive potential" of Orthodox dominancy, and vowed to torpedo the bill.


The Conservative and Reform movements agree with the bill's core statement, which means to facilitate the conversion process, by allowing municipal rabbis to oversee it.


The concern stems from an article – introduced to appease the haredim – which stipulates that the Chief Rabbinate will have final say on the matter.


Both movements allege that the article disrupts the balance between the three Jewish denominations.


פרסום ראשון: 06.06.10, 08:23
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