Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Rotem Bill explained

People have spilled large amounts of ink, virtual and tangible, about the recent conversion bill which hit the Israeli Knesset (Congress) floor, a law which would give designated Israeli Orthodox courts the sole rights over conversion to Judaism, and hence hold a monopoly over the age-old question of "who is a Jew" (certainly in reference to immigration to Israel).

The news left the banter of the Jewish world with Alana Newhouse's NYT Op/Ed; it continues to flow through the pages of the Jerusalem Post, HaAretz and every Jewish blog I've encountered thus far.
But my friend Jonah Lowenfeld has provided the best analysis I've seen thus-far. He outlines the politics of how the bill once really was out to help Russian immigrants gain status as Jews in Israel but turned to a political barnstorm of attempting to buy Charedi votes, giving political muscle to Rabbi Shlomo Riskin of Efrat and beyond.

If you read one article on the topic, this is the one to read.

It appears that the bill has been tabled until the next session of the Knesset, in no small part due to the outpouring of letters from Diaspora communities to PM Bibi Netanyahu (upwards of 50,000 — 25,000 through the Masorti website, alone).

Haven't written yet? Make it happen.

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