Greenbelt Interfaith News
    U.S. Brief

    September 30, 1997

    Orthodox Jews Condemn Conservative and Reform Pressure on Israel
    Greenbelt Interfaith News

    Religious pluralism in Israel could threaten Jewish unity – this is the theme of a strongly worded statement issued by four Orthodox groups in late September. The statement, which is entitled "A Heartfelt Message to Our Fellow-Jews," condemns recent attempts by Conservative and Reform Jews to prevent Israel from passing a law that would recognize conversions in Israel only if they were done by Orthodox Rabbis. Most American Jews belong to the Conservative or Reform traditions.

    The statement is signed by Agudath Israel of America, the National Council of Young Israel, the Rabbinical Council of America, and the Orthodox Union. The signers ask all Jews to "shun unworthy political posturing, as well as political, economic and social pressure, in favor of good-will and respect for the Jewish tradition that defines us as a people." The statement goes on to say that the halacha, the Jewish religious law, has been Israel's law since its founding, and that departing from it could cause Jews to split apart. According to Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Rabbi Ismar Schorsch, chancellor of the Conservative movement's Jewish Theological Seminary, commented, "Religious pluralism works for Jews in America; why should it be denied to Jews in Israel?"

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    ©1997 Heather Elizabeth Peterson