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JEWISH FEDERATIONS URGE GOVERNMENT OF ISRAEL TO DIALOGUE WITH DIASPORA JEWRY ON PROPOSED LAW OF RETURN CHANGES

 

March 10, 2010

The Jewish Federations of North America, representing 157 Federations and 400 smaller Network communities, urges the Government of Israel to enter into dialogue with Diaspora Jews before making any proposed changes to the Law of Return, which allows Jews to migrate to Israel and become Israeli citizens. 

Committees in Israel’s Knesset have begun debating a proposal to allow local municipal rabbis in Israel to perform conversions to Judaism. The proposed bill also includes a provision that could prevent a non-Jew who converts to Judaism, in Israel or in the Diaspora, from receiving Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return.  Although we commend the Knesset for its initial rejection of the proposed bill today, this issue remains unresolved and is of urgent importance to our communities. 

We implore the Israeli government to seriously consider the concerns and sensitivities of Diaspora Jews before acting on such proposals. Changes to the Law of Return could adversely affect many members of our community by preventing them from making aliyah and becoming Israeli citizens.  Any action of this type would be an affront to world Jewry. 

Leaders of the Jewish Federations movement today hand-delivered a letter to the Office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to express our concerns. Representatives in JFNA’s Washington and Jerusalem offices have additionally communicated our concerns to Israeli officials in Washington, New York and Jerusalem. 

Members of The Jewish Federations of North America’s Large City Executive Committee also convened today to discuss these developments. Natan Sharansky, Chair of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel, briefed the committee on the issue.  Sharansky and the Jewish Agency stand in solidarity with The Jewish Federations of North America on this important issue. 



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