Yuli Edelstein has served as Israel’s minister of public affairs and the diaspora since March 2009. Edelstein, 52, was born in the former Soviet Union and was an aliyah activist and Hebrew teacher in Moscow before he was allowed to immigrate to Israel in 1987. He served from 1993-94 as an adviser to then opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and has been a member of the Knesset since 1996. He was interviewed here late last month about the controversial conversion bill and the future of Israel-diaspora relations.
Gary Rosenblatt does not hesitate to tackle difficult matters, but his latest column about the Rotem Conversion Bill is off the mark.
For more than 15 years, as well as in our several meetings with MK David Rotem, we have emphasized our strong desire to address the issue of the status of olim from the former Soviet Union. There are multiple ways in which the situation could be meaningfully addressed.
Maybe some Orthodox Jews are feeling “triumphalist” these days, with their high birthrates, high degrees of Jewish literacy and low assimilation rates, but to read the papers lately is to see Orthodoxy as a Palooka getting pummeled in a Pier 6 brawl. Between Chelsea Clinton’s intermarriage and the shelved conversion bill in Israel, the Orthodox are certainly getting the worst of it.
Can 400,000 of Israel’s Russians be absorbed into society without alienating non-Orthodox Jews?
Although some American Jewish leaders said this week that they will be entering upcoming negotiations over the proposed Israeli conversion bill free of preconceptions, a leader of Reform Jewry said there remains a “red line” for his movement.
“The critical point will be giving ultimate authority to the Chief Rabbinate, which is a fundamental violation of the status quo,” said Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism. “In my opinion, that is the red line.
The crisis in Israel over the so-called Rotem Bill regarding conversion practices and who should control them has been averted, at least for now. The bill was not brought to the floor for a vote because its sponsor realized he was short of the votes needed for passage.
Only the truly naïve about how these things work believe that this is the end of the story. Like a retrovirus, this issue of “who is a Jew” will surely rear its ugly head again in the not too distant future.
Who opposes Knesset member David Rotem’s proposed conversion legislation?
In Israel, Bibi Netanyahu, the Likud prime minister, who has displayed vision and political courage in rebuffing efforts to pass it in its current form this week; and Labor, Kadima and Meretz, joined by a number of Likud members. This opposition reflects something Rotem, a member of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, does not appreciate: a clear recognition of the importance of the Reform and Conservative movement worldwide to Israel and the Jewish people.
JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he opposes a proposed conversion bill, which "could tear apart the Jewish people."
Netanyahu made the comments Sunday at the regular Cabinet meeting.
The bill, which has been roundly condemned by the Reform and Conservative movements in the United States, Israel and in other countries in the Diaspora because it centralizes conversion in the hands of the Orthodox Rabbinate, could come up for a first reading this week.