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Saturday, 30 June 2007

JAFI conversion resolution quashed

JAFI conversion resolution quashed
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Haviv Rettig, THE JERUSALEM POST Jun. 26, 2007
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A proposal calling on the government to recognize non-Orthodox
conversions conducted in Israel was prevented from reaching the Jewish
Agency Assembly's plenum for a vote in Jerusalem on Tuesday following
complaints by delegates from several organizations that the resolution's
timing violated procedure.
"You can't give a resolution from one day to the next," one Jewish
Agency official told The Jerusalem Post. "The resolution was submitted
after the [May 15] deadline. It could only have been considered by the
Assembly if [it] decided to suspend the rules."
The resolution's sponsors are considering resubmitting it ahead of the
Jewish Agency Board of Governors meeting in October, but much depends on
what they hear on Thursday at a panel on the "Unity of the Jewish
People" at the capital's Inbal Hotel.
There, former justice minister Yaakov Ne'eman will report on his
meetings with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo
Amar regarding the appointment of more lenient dayanim (religious
judges) to deal with conversion.
According to the Assembly resolution, the courts have failed to deal
with converts appropriately and do not understand the gravity of the
situation. Citing the lack of a civil alternative to Orthodox rabbinical
control of personal status issues, it urged the government to recognize
conversions from all streams of Judaism.
Jewish Agency Chairman Ze'ev Bielsky recently called on the government
to recognize non-Orthodox conversions in order to encourage North
America aliya.
Ne'eman "is a serious man, and he really wants to accomplish something,"
said one of the resolution's sponsors. "In the short run, we expect that
Rabbi Amar and the prime minister will appoint some dayanim and that
real, substantial conversions will take place between now and October."
Rabbi Yosef Blau, the head of Religious Zionists of America, the
American branch of the Orthodox-Zionist Mizrachi movement, spoke against
allowing the proposed resolution to reach the plenum.
"We're deeply concerned with conversion problems," he told the Post
after the committee meeting that rejected bringing the resolution to the
plenum, "but before making a radical suggestion that will have many
unforeseen consequences," there should be an appropriate period of
discussion.
Blau said that mere official recognition was not going to solve the
problem. "Even in the US, where we have free religious expression, it's
not as though Reform and Conservative conversions are accepted by the
Orthodox.
"Groups that want change should work through the process," he said.

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