Sa’ar, Livni object to notion that Judaism has no streams

“There is no one Jewish stream, and there shouldn’t be one Jewish way of life that monopolizes Judaism,” education minister says in response to Margi.

By JONAH MANDEL
March 30, 2011 01:48
2 minute read.
EDUCATION MINISTER Gideon Sa’ar speaks with a stud

Saar Yemin Orde 311. (photo credit: Sasson Tiram)

 
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Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar (Likud) reiterated on Monday his objection to the proposed conversion bill, which “will destroy the unity of the Jewish people and also hurt the relationship between Jews in the Diaspora and Israel.”

Speaking at the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly annual convention in Las Vegas, Sa’ar was referring to Israel Beiteinu MK David Rotem’s proposal to place all conversions in Israel under the responsibility of the Chief Rabbinate.

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Rotem’s bill was put on ice by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu till this summer.

Sa’ar expressed similar sentiments earlier this year at the annual Masorti Movement convention in Jerusalem.

The education minister also addressed the remark of Religious Services Minister Ya’acov Margi, who last week called for legislation determining “that there are no streams in Judaism, only one that has been passed down to us from generation to generation.”

“There is no one Jewish stream, and there shouldn’t be one Jewish way of life that monopolizes Judaism,” Sa’ar told the Rabbinical Assembly, the umbrella organization for the Conservative movement representing 1,600 Conservative rabbis serving some 1.5 million Jews worldwide.

Opposition head Tzipi Livni (Kadima) also weighed in on Margi’s aspirations at the Las Vegas event, and said that as Israeli and Jewish leaders, “our responsibility is to respect the idea that each and every Jew can express his own faith and religion in a manner that gives him the possibility to do so according to his heart and mind, and this is something that all of us need to respect. The State of Israel needs to give every Jew the possibility to feel at home in Israel.

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“When I heard these voices saying that there is a need to take some of the movements or streams outside the law, this is not acceptable to me or the State of Israel,” as such a notion goes against the very values of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, she said.

Livni also addressed the conversion bill controversy, which, she said, she came to realize through talks with Diaspora leaders last year “was not only about Israelis, but also about you,” she told the Jewish leaders.

“It affects not only the lives of new immigrants to Israel, but also your lives and feeling or need to be connected to the State of Israel.”

Regarding the conversions, Israel should do what it can “to make conversions possible, for those who want to be part of the Jewish people,” Livni said.

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