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The Israeli Knesset will vote in the next day or so on a bill that would fundamentally change the Law of Conversion and further concentrate power with the Chief Rabbinate.
As explained in Haâ€™aretz,
Under current practice, Israel recognizes only conversions performed by Orthodox rabbis inside Israel, but people converted by non-Orthodox rabbis outside the country are automatically eligible for Israeli citizenship like other Jews. The proposed legislation would give Israel’s chief rabbinate the legal power to decide whether any conversion is legitimate. The group most likely to suffer would be immigrants who converted to Judaism abroad and could now be denied Israeli citizenship.
If this bill passes, future historians will inevitably wonder why, at a critical moment in its history, Israel chose to tell 85 percent of the Jewish diaspora that their rabbis werenâ€™t rabbis and their religious practices were a sham, the conversions of their parents and spouses were invalid, their marriages werenâ€™t legal under Jewish law, and their progeny were a tribe of bastards unfit to marry other Jews.
This legislation is important to Interfaith couples even if they arenâ€™t presently contemplating conversion. Israelâ€™s chief rabbinate is totally hostile to any acknowledgment whatsoever of interfaith relationships or any welcoming whatsoever of interfaith families. Extending the chief rabbinateâ€™s power is not in the interest of any interfaith couple that has any interest in Israel. I urge you to go to the Reform movementâ€™s Religious Action Center website and send an email to Prime Minister Netanyahu asking him to intervene and urge withdrawal of the proposed legislation.
The proposed legislation has engendered a storm of protest from the Jewish community outside of Israel, including the Reform and Conservative movements, the Jewish Federations of North America, the Boston federation, and others.
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