(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky personally lobbied MKs to support conversion reform, according to a letter obtained by The Jerusalem Post Sunday.
In the letter, which was sent to all 120 lawmakers in July, Sharansky asked them to vote for "obtainable conversion."
A government order permitting municipal chief rabbis to establish conversion courts was approved by the cabinet on Sunday in what has been hailed by proponents as a significant breakthrough in efforts to improve access to the system inorder to increase conversion rates among the non-Jewish Israeli citizens who immigrated to Israel under the law of return from the former Soviet Union.
"For two decades the Jewish Agency is acting to remove obstacles before new immigrants when they want to convert and integrate in Israeli society. The conversion bill is an important continuation of this policy," wrote Sharansky.
Sharansky pointed out that the over million immigrants who came to Israel from the Former Soviet Union – including 300,000 who are not Jewish - were oppressed because of their religion. He added that the bill does not only apply to those from the FSU, but will be an important tool to fight assimilation around the world.
"This is the time to show national responsibility toward the immigrants we brought here and the ones we have yet to bring and to the Jewish people who ask that we accept its children with open arms and allow obtainable, halachic conversion for all those who want to join the Jewish people," he wrote.