The Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel

What Masorti/Conservative Jews Could Lose…If Shas Minister Arye Deri Gets His Way

As we move into the somber days of reflection leading to Tisha B’av, we’re facing yet another attack on our Conservative Judaism.

Minister Arye DeriIn a move designed to divide Jews from Jews, Deri has introduced legislation that would grant the ultra-Orthodox Chief Rabbinate a monopoly over Jewish conversion in Israel. Backing the legislation, New Right party MK Bezalel Smotrich says the quiet part out loud —  he would “not allow the recognition of Reform and Conservative conversions.” This cannot stand.

Conversion, says Smotrich, is “a national matter concerning Jewish law which touches on the essence of our existence as a people.” Here we firmly agree.  And we must insist on full rights and recognition for conversions (and by extension, marriages, divorces and other life-cycle events) supervised by Masorti/Conservative rabbis. We must protect our Judaism in the Land of Israel.

According to the Jerusalem Post, “the Interior Ministry’s policy of conducting unprompted Jewish status investigations into citizens from the former Soviet Union has resulted in the suspension of Jewish status of 2,200 Israeli children.” Is this the Israel of our dreams?  The Israel we want for our own children?  A country with “unprompted status investigations?”

Approaching Tisha B’av and the Days of Awe, we should reflect on the vision of Israel we do want: egalitarian, inclusive, respectful and embracing all our traditions and observances.

As Masorti Israel’s CEO has said, this legislation aims to “force on Israel the stringent ultra-Orthodox standards of conversion instead of allowing the State of Israel to be more Jewish and more democratic through the free choice of different forms of Judaism. The ultra-Orthodox veto is making the State of Israel far less Jewish.”

The Masorti Movement stands for making Israel more Jewish and more democratic. We hope we can count on you to stand with Masorti.