Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana (Yamina) plans to leave for the US Monday evening on a 10-day visit in an effort to convince the Orthodox Jewish leadership to support his kashrut and conversion reforms.
“There is a deep connection between Israeli citizens and Diaspora Jewry,” he said Sunday. “The actions of each of the parties have mutual effects on the other.
“After many months of intense work on the Conversion Law, I will travel to meet directly with the American Jewish communities to explain the principles of the law and its necessity for the future of the State of Israel and world Jewry. The Conversion Law is a historical law that allows the State of Israel to face one of the significant challenges it faces. Diaspora Jewry must be connected to this move.
“During my visit to the United States, I also intend to get a closer look at the kosher systems based on private-market mechanisms and the principle of competition to import effective models into the Israeli kosher market that has now opened up to competition following the Kashrut Law I passed. With great excitement I embark on this important journey,” Kahana said.
In recent months, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau visited the US and advised Orthodox Jewish leaders to oppose the reforms, as did Religious Zionist Party MK Bezalel Smotrich.
Kahana intends to visit New York, Texas and Washington, DC. In New York, he plans to attend the Erev Shabbat service at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, a Modern Orthodox synagogue in Manhattan. On Shabbat morning, he is scheduled to speak at the Altneu Synagogue, an Orthodox synagogue in the Upper East Side.
Kahana also plans to hold a dialogue with the leadership of the Rabbinic Council of America about his conversion and kashrut reforms, as well as learn about their work. He is scheduled to meet with the Orthodox Union’s leadership and discuss the issues with them, especially kashrut reform, since the OU is the largest kashrut organization in the world.
Kahana is expected to meet Bnei Akiva emissaries, Israeli Consul-General to New York Asaf Zamir, rabbis of all streams of Judaism at the UJA Jewish Federation of New York, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan and other senior officials.
In Washington, he is expected to meet with Chabad shliach Rabbi Avraham Shemtov, Israeli Ambassador to the US Mike Herzog, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and heads of the local Israeli community. In addition, Kahana plans to meet with Chanan Weissman, the White House’s liaison to the Jewish community, and other political figures.