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An Orthodox Response to the Conversion Bill

Here is an interesting article opposing the Conversion Bill from an Orthodox perspective. He essentially makes the same argument that the Reform and Conservative movements have been making: that the bill places a disproportionate amount of power into the hands of the Haredi rabbinate. His beef is that it doesn’t include Modern Orthodox/Religious Zionist rabbis in the conversion solution. Obviously. I don’t agree with the assertion that conversion should be broadened only as far as Modern Orthodoxy, but it is interesting to see just how similar this M.O. perspective is to our own.

Much of this is temporarily moot, since the news out of Israel today is that Netanyahu now opposes the Conversion Bill and it will not be brought for a vote before the end of summer. (Apparently the enormous amounts of pressure from world Jewry didn’t fall on deaf ears after all.) But this issue is far from over. The bill will likely be brought for a vote sometime after the Holidays in the Fall, and the larger issue of Jewish pluralism in Israel is far from settled.

Where we differ even from modern Orthodoxy is our assertion that pluralism and decentralization of Jewish expression are a good thing – that having multiple options is good for the Jews. I have long held that due to their understanding of the role of Torah and halacha, we cannot expect that the Orthodox accept our way of life as authoritative Judaism and recognize our rabbis; but what we can expect is a place at the table, equal funding, and for our rabbis to be addressed as “Rabbi.” You don’t have to agree with us – you just have to admit that we exist and that we are an accepted expression of Jewish tradition.

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