Correspondence Concerning the Conversion Bill in Israel

I sent a copy of a suggested letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu back in March protesting the proposed conversion bill. Just today I received a response. Here is the exchange.

March 9, 2010
The Honorable Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister of Israel
Office of the Prime Minister
Jerusalem, Israel

Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu,

I write to request your immediate intervention to prevent passage of the legislation being brought forward by MK David Rotem (הצעת חוק הרבנות הראשית תיקון- סמכות בעניני גיור)

Passage of this bill in its present form especially section 3, will have the effect of providing for a path to alter the Law of Return or, at the least, cause undue hardship to anyone in Israel who has come from Diaspora communities and seeks conversion in Israel.

Sadly, this is reminiscent of those attempts in 1997 to enact similar legislation which ultimately led to the establishment of the Ne'eman Commission.

While we are supportive of your efforts to create greater accessibility to conversion courts in Israel and have done all we can to aid in this effort, the overall impact of the Rotem Bill will set back these efforts. Moreover this legislation will adversely impact the work of our Masorti movement and its members in Israel. This we cannot abide.

Even more regrettably, should this bill be enacted, it will exacerbate a widening gap between Diaspora and Israel communities, which we are all working very hard to avoid.

Therefore, I believe it is imperative that you, Israel’s leader, who cares so deeply about the well-being of our people, intervene and urge withdrawal of this bill.

Thank you,

Rabbi Jonah Layman

June 15, 2010
Thank you for your recent e-mail regarding the proposed amendment to the Chief Rabbinate Law.

The Prime Minister attributes great importance to the issues raised in your e-mail and has given instructions that any proposed legislative arrangement ensures the unity of the entire Jewish people. The Prime Minister has further instructed that the legislative arrangements be carried out with sensitivity and care in order to bridge the various approaches.

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts regarding this important issue.

Prime Minister’s Office – E-Correspondence