David Rotem

Israeli MK Apologizes, Says Comments On Reform ‘Misinterpreted’

02/06/2014
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JERUSALEM — Israeli lawmaker David Rotem apologized for comments attributed to him that members of the Reform movement are not Jewish, saying his words were “misinterpreted.”

Could Latest Conversion Flap Bring Down Israel’s Government?

The Knesset’s passage today of a preliminary reading of a bill that affirms the legitimacy of conversions performed by rabbis of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) seems benign on the surface.

After all, the IDF rabbis are chosen by the Chief Rabbinate, and the vote was an overwhelming 74-18.

A Prayer Book For The Ages

11/16/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Israeli Knesset member David Rotem, author of a controversial bill that would grant the Chief Rabbinate sole authority over conversions, defended his position recently. In response to complaints from leaders of non-Orthodox movements that the bill discriminates against them, he said, “In my opinion, there’s only one Judaism. There are no three Judaisms.” What he meant was that Orthodoxy is the only legitimate form of Judaism. The other streams don’t count.

Why Israel's Conversion Bill Is Bad For The Jewish People

09/03/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Over the last number of weeks, people with good intentions, and some with not such good intentions, have written and dealt extensively with the proposed Conversion Bill in Israel. I read what they are writing and wonder: do they really understand the Bill?

Following is an explanation, framed in a Question and Answer format. 

What is the problem the bill purports to solve?

On Rotem Conversion Bill, Focus Should Be On Israel

Conversions of Russians trump concern over Chief Rabbinate hegemony.

08/04/2010
Editor And Publisher

 I’m having second — and third — thoughts about the wisdom of rejecting outright the controversial conversion bill in Israel.

Before you get too worked up about that statement, please hear me out.

Gary Rosenblatt

With Conversion Bill Postponed, What’s Next?

Can 400,000 of Israel’s Russians be absorbed into society without alienating non-Orthodox Jews?

07/27/2010
Staff Writer

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.

Netanyahu brokers six-month freeze on conversion bill

07/22/2010

 An agreement has been reached to put a six-month freeze on a controversial Israeli conversion bill up for a vote in the Knesset.

Netanyahu Tells Cabinet He Opposes Rotem Conversion Bill

07/18/2010

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.

Even Orthodox Rabbis Here Bemoan (Privately) The Conversion Controversy

Amid all the furor from opponents of the proposed Knesset conversion bill that would turn the de facto Orthodox control into law, it’s instructive to note who isn’t speaking out, and why.

And one can appreciate how this controversy underscores the enormous gap in understanding between Jewish leaders here and in Israel.

Are we Indeed One People?

07/16/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

As I write this article, furious negotiations are underway in Jerusalem regarding the so-called “Rotem Bill,” which might possibly be introduced to the plenum of the Knesset as early as next week. In a Jewish world that often hyperbolizes potential disasters, this bill, if passed, has the capacity to drive a major wedge between the State of Israel and the non-Orthodox Jewish community here in North America. I suspect that certain sectors of the Orthodox community are not anxious to see it passed, either.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik
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