On Sunday, the Israeli Cabinet made a decision to reverse an earlier decision to establish a pluralist prayer space at the Western Wall. Additionally, there was an initial approval of a bill that would give the Chief Rabbinate a monopoly on conversion in Israel.
President of the ZFA, Dr Danny Lamm is currently in Israel for Board of Governor’s meetings with The Jewish Agency for Israel where he said these decisions have come as a tremendous shock to all participants.
Explaining the two decisions he said that the reversal of the decision in regards to the Western Wall comes after the Government had asked the Chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky to broker a deal that would enable this space to be made available for ALL Jews to perform services in the way that they wish.
In regards to conversion, he said this new law is set to retrospectively remove recognition of people who have converted either in Israel not through the Rabbinate or in the Diaspora by any group that is not recognised by the Rabbinate – which could be Reform, Conservative or any other private group – and to deny these people the legitimacy that they have obtained by seeking to convert.
Dr Lamm said, “this is a tremendous shock and people here feel that this is indicating a lack of interest, care and concern for Diaspora Jewry and threatens to make a division between the Diaspora and Israeli Jews.”
He continued by saying that the “ZFA aligns ourselves with a resolution that is being unanimously supported by the Jewish Agency for Israel, constituted by the World Zionist Organisation, the Jewish Federations of North America and Keren Hayasod who all share the same view – that this is not the best future for the Jewish people. That we have come so far to make Jews and people who desire to be Jews welcome in Medinat Yisrael and to be recognised as such. It is a very severe reversal and we condemn it.”