The law again raises the issue of who is a Jew. It would give orthodox rabbis in Israel almost exclusive control over Jewish conversions, allowing them to determine who is recognized as Jewish and who can get married or buried in Israel as a Jew.Why do I find the absence of mention of this law on conservative sites interesting? Because time and time again, conservatives claimed to be the true friends of the Jews, and not Israelis, but they had claimed to be looking out for American Jewish interests as well. I am glad to see Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu come out against the proposal, but where are the Republicans who are making that same criticism?
The scope of the bill has caused a furor among more liberal Jews from the Reform and Conservative movements that represent the majority of Jews living outside Israel.
People who are recognized as Jews under Reform and Conservative rules are now accepted in Israel and can become citizens. If this bill passes their identity as Jews may be questioned.
Rabbi David Saperstein from the Religious Action Center in Washington DC is in Israel campaigning against the law.
"It would be an enormous blow to the unity of the Jewish people and the principle of religious freedom in Israel, " he told the Associated Press. "The message will be sent out that the government of Israel does not accept our rabbis and our movement as legitimate."
A commenter on the ABC article, coriander21, said it best: "If the Knesset upholds the radical sectarianism of its orthodox bloc, it demonstrates it's no different from the radical Islamic theocracies which surround the State of Israel and will definitely succeed in alienating the majority of American Jews."
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