Jerusalem — Have the liberal streams of Judaism been left at the altar by the State of Israel, or can they forge an historic union in their quest for recognition? That’s the issue at the center of the Conservative movement’s annual Rabbinical Assembly convention, attended by some 350 American rabbis here.
Some rabbis say they should support the Neeman Commission’s proposal to create conversion institutes, to be taught by Orthodox, Conservative and Reform instructors — with or without the approval of the Orthodox chief rabbinate.
Jerusalem — Legitimacy, long sought here by the Reform and Conservative rabbinate, was denied again this week by the Orthodox chief rabbinate, but advanced by the state — leaving the door ajar for a resolution to the religious wars.
Despite the chief rabbinate’s strong disapproval of a key element of the Neeman Committee proposal on conversion, two-thirds of the Knesset is expected to endorse the plan this week.
Jerusalem — American students at Israeli universities will get gas masks if a state of emergency is declared, Israeli Defense Minister Yitzchak Mordechai told The Jewish Week after giving similar assurances to the president of Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan.
Shya Herman of Riverdale opened the newspaper last week to learn that Israelis were lining up for new gas masks. Upon learning that his son, a student at Bar-Ilan University, did not have one, he called the Israeli Consulate.
“All I’m asking is for my son to be safe,” Herman said. “Why doesn’t the university have [gas masks] on campus?
“I’m not asking that they be distributed, only that they be nearby. If we can’t be assured of the safety for our son, Aaron, we’re going to bring him home.”
Moshe Maoz, a professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern studies at the Hebrew University and former director of the Harry S Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace in Tel Aviv, is a recognized expert on Syria and Lebanon. Maoz, 64, and the father of two, lives with his wife in Jerusalem. He was interviewed while visiting New York as Secretary of State Madeleine Albright prepared for her visit this week to Damascus.
The Israeli government is falsely telling Jewish federation leaders that the conversion crisis is over, according to the leader of the Reform movement. “We think this is a political game by the government to try to proclaim victory out of what was a failure,” said Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Reform movement’s Union of American Hebrew Congregations.
He said some members of the Knesset criticized the government this Monday during a debate on the recommendations of the Neeman Commission, which was created to resolve the conversion issue.
Ramallah, West Bank — Saying he feared attacks by Islamic extremists who have created a bloodbath in Algeria, Palestinian Authority President Yasir Arafat pleaded with representatives of the American Jewish Committee to help him revive the stalled peace talks with Israel.
“We are in need of an outside push — both of us,” said Arafat. “We are in need of mediation to rebuild again confidence between both of us. Maybe American mediation, Moroccan mediation, Arab mediation from [Egyptian President Hosni] Mubarak or [Jordan’s] King Hussein.”
Although Israeli Arabs were blamed for two car bombs that exploded Sunday — less than 24 hours after Israeli and Palestinian leaders signed a revised land-for-security accord — a terrorist infrastructure in the territories “in all probability” made the attacks possible, according to Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Zalman Shoval.
With the anticipated signing this week of a modified Wye River land-for-peace agreement, the plea of right-wing Israelis to Prime Minister Ehud Barak not to dismantle any of the 144 Jewish settlements in the territories is likely to take on greater urgency.
“The peace process would not be hurt if our communities stayed where they are,” said Benny Kashriel, the recently appointed chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
As the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks inched fitfully forward this week, Yasir Arafat moved to shore up his leadership position in the Palestinian community by seeking to reunite with several Palestinian groups that had rejected his leadership after he signed the 1993 Oslo peace accord.