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Chief Sephardic Rabbi: Bolt Coalition if Conversion Law Fails

Rabbi Amar thinks religious parties should say: pass the conversion law or we leave the government.

By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 7/18/2010, 9:16 PM / Last Update: 7/18/2010, 9:20 PM

Flash 90

Rabbi Shlomo Amar, the Chief Sephardic Rabbi, said Sunday that in his opinion, the religious parties in the coalition should leave it if a proposed law regulating conversion to Judaism (giyur) is not passed.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday morning that he opposes the proposed law formulated by MK David Rotem (Israel Our Home). Rotem had obtained the agreement of key religious authorities from different Orthodox streams for the bill.

The bill would determine, for the first time, that the Chief Rabbinate of Israel is the sole body authorized to deal with conversions. In addition, all recognized Israeli rabbis could perform conversions, and they must be done in an Orthodox manner, i.e., after the convert “accepts the burden of Torah and commandments according to Jewish Law.” The proposal also states that conversions could not be nullified retroactively, except by the rabbi who performed it.

"If they were to listen to my advice,” Rabbi Amar told Hareidi-religious radio station Kol BaRama,  “they would all stand as one person with one mouth and one heart and tell [Netanyahu]: it's either the Conversion Law or we leave.”

"The Reform Jews are using the diplomatic situation to threaten the Prime Minister,” the Chief Rabbi said. “They sit there [abroad] and they want to dictate our lives [in Israel]. I told the Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, that if G-d forbid the High Court allows a Reform conversion, we will be splitting the nation into two parts.”

"The result would be that one part of the nation would not marry the second part,” Rabbi Amar explained. “This is not a game... this is not a social crisis. This is a tearing apart of the nation into two nations, and the ones who will lose by it are the ones who do not abide by the Torah and commandments. We will not be able to marry them. Such things have happened in the past.”