Reform Cantors Urge Netanyahu to Intervene against the Passage of the ‘Rotem’ Conversion Bill

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Reform Cantors Urge Netanyahu to Intervene against the Passage of the ‘Rotem’ Conversion Bill

Chicago, IL—The American Conference of Cantors (ACC), representing over 450 Reform Jewish Cantors, wishes to express our extreme sadness and distress at the legislation being brought forward by MK David Rotem which seeks to redefine “who is a Jew” in Israel by moving authority over conversions from the State to the Orthodox Rabbinate.

The new conversion bill is overwhelmingly opposed by the majority of Jews living outside of Israel. Should this bill pass the Knesset, the power to perform conversions would rest solely with the Chief Rabbinate—which only recognizes Ultra-Orthodox conversions—and would remove the recognition in Israel of Reform and Conservative conversions.

We are deeply concerned about the intention to grant the Chief Rabbinate sole control over conversion in Israel. Such legislation would be an open attack on the legitimacy of non-Orthodox Jewry, which composes the majority of world Jewry. “We represent a pluralistic Judaism, where we embrace those who have studied deeply and seriously for conversion, and for whom living active, engaged Jewish lives brings great blessing to the future of Judaism.

As Jews, having lived through countless ages of persecution, let us not become the persecutor or judge of those who, with sincerity and integrity, desire to become a part of our people,” said Cantor Susan Caro, President of the American Conference of Cantors. ACC members are strongly connected to the Jewish psyche in Israel; we live and teach the critical importance of Israel through the countless  melodies of our people through the generations.

Therefore, we call upon the Honorable Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, who we believe cares deeply about the well-being of Klal Yisrael, to intervene and urge immediate withdrawal of this bill. May this action be one that inspires and ushers in for Israel an era of righteous democracy rooted in Jewish values.