We write this letter as American Jews proud of our children who made aliyah 10 years ago. In that spirit, we write of an issue that potentially could create a larger divide between Israel and diaspora Jewry, particularly American Jews. We refer to pending legislation before the Knesset known as chok giyur, the law of conversion, that would give the chief rabbinate total hegemony over all conversion and eliminate all other religious tribunals.
We attended a caucus at the Knesset and heard from many streams of Israel’s leadership, addressing how devastating the passage of this bill would be for Israel and American Jewry and for Russian-Israeli soldiers and others of dubious Jewish identity who want to convert but are not willing to submit to the extreme standards of the chief rabbinate. Giving total control to the Chief Rabbinate would only dislocate the more liberal elements in Israel and America. Disenfranchising American Jews will threaten support and security for the State of Israel.
In Israel and in America we must do all we can to thwart the passage of this bill.
As a state, Israel opened its doors to all those in the diaspora. Israel must continue to support all streams of Jewry.