Israel looks to end crisis with Diaspora Jews

Bennett, Shaked intensify efforts to find compromise, prevent break between Israel and American Jewish leaders.

Nitsan Keidar,

Meeting in Jerusalem between Jewish Home ministers, Diaspora leaders
Meeting in Jerusalem between Jewish Home ministers, Diaspora leaders
Spokesperson for Justice Minister

Amid growing tensions between Israel and non-Orthodox Diaspora Jewish leaders, leaders from the Jewish Home party are expanding their efforts to reach a rapprochement and prevent a rift from forming between Israel and the American Jewish community.

Reform and Conservative leaders in the US expressed outrage earlier this week, following a pair of decisions by the Netanyahu government.

First, was the coalition’s decision to freeze indefinitely a 2016 proposal to set aside a portion of the Western Wall in Jerusalem for non-traditional, mixed-gender religious services held by groups affiliated with the Reform and Conservative movements.

The second move which has drawn the ire of many Diaspora leaders was the Ministerial Committee for Legislation’s vote to support the proposed Conversion Law, which would end government recognition of privately conducted conversions to Judaism.

American Jewish Reform and Conservative leaders blasted the government’s support for the Conversion Law and the shelving of the Western Wall plan, warning they would alienate Diaspora Jews.

Since then, Jewish Home ministers including Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, and Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan have conducted marathon talks with American Jewish leaders and representatives of Tzohar, an Orthodox rabbinic group which provides an alternative to the Chief Rabbinate for religious services.

The three Jewish Home leaders hope to hammer out a compromise agreement with Tzohar and Diaspora Jewish officials based upon the existing status quo with regards to conversion.