Update on Conversion Bill

On their conference call today, Rabbi Steven Wernick and Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly, updated listeners on the situation of the Rotem bill in Israel.

You can listen to a recording of the call here.

They reported that they and other high-level Conservative and Masorti leaders who were in Israel have been lobbying hard. Their efforts - along with the efforts of Conservative/Masorti and other liberal Jews around the world -- seem to have paid off. Non-Orthodox Jews have come together in ways that never have happened before to make clear their unhappiness and to urge Prime Minister Netanyahu not to take a step that would institutionalize some of the schisms in the Jewish world.

As a result, it seems likely that the bill will not be presented to the full Knesset this session, which will end on Wednesday evening.

However, Rabbi Wernick and Rabbi Schonfeld warned, it is important not to stop the pressure on the prime minister. He is being pressured in every direction, and it is not clear what course he will take in the end. Just as the situation has changed in our favor, it could change back again.

Therefore, they urge us to keeping writing to Prime Minister Netanyahu. You can continue to use the email from Masorti, which is here.

You also could send him a more nuanced email, acknowledging his support so far and asking him to continue it. That email should be sent to


Here is a suggested template:

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

Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu,

I am writing, first, to thank you for listening to the arguments against passing MK Rotem's conversion bill, and for understanding and accepting them.

We Conservative/Masorti and other liberal Jews know that the danger that this bill poses still is real and still hangs over our heads, and that if it passes we, who represent more than 85 percent of the Jews around the world, will no longer feel at home in Israel. We understand the vital importance of passing some legislation that helps news immigrants who halachic standing is in doubt, but we know as well that MK Rotem's bill is not that legislation.

We urge you to stay strong. We appreciate that your decision to oppose the bill is a heartening sign of the respect and love you feel for diaspora Jews, just as the intensity with which we fight it shows the respect and love we feel for you and klal Israel. We urge you to keep that understanding and help us fight against this bill.