On Thursday afternoon, Rabbi Steven Wernick, CEO of The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) and Rabbinical Assembly CEO Julie Schonfeld, delivered a letter to New York Consul General of Israel Dani Dayan on behalf of the movement.
The letter is addressed to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and discusses what the movement describes as feelings of “dismay, anger and a sense of betrayal concerning events of June 25, 2017 in which the Cabinet tabled the Kotel (Western Wall) Agreement of January 2016 and simultaneously the Legislative Committee of the Knesset put forward a new Conversion Law that would codify the Israeli Chief Rabbinate as the sole authority in Israel for conversion to Judaism.”
The letter also states that the writers find it “unconscionable” that Israel does not “recognize or support” all Jews equally. It speaks about the movement's belief that “that this is a unique moment in Israel’s relationship with Diaspora Jewry” and love for fellow Jews.
It also demands “diversity” in determining the definition of a Jew.
According to Jewish law, Judaism is matrilineal. Children born to a non-Jewish mother and a Jewish father are not Jews. Reform clergy recognizes patrilineal Judaism, causing a schism in who is recognized as a Jew. Intermarriage rates among Conservative and Reform Jews is close to 80% with most of the children raised as non-Jews.
On August 31, at an Israel High Court of Justice hearing, Supreme Court President Miriam Naor stated, “Things that are frozen can be thawed,” and told the Israeli government to either provide legal support for their decision not to go through with the Kotel plan, or to reverse their decision.
In July, nearly 200 North American halakha-observant rabbis called upon the Reform and Conservative movements to "stop dividing the Jewish People" with what it termed a "disinformation campaign" regarding Israel's Western Wall.
The rabbis noted that on the Fast of the 17th of Tammuz, when Jews commemorate the breach of Jerusalem's walls which led to the destruction of the Holy Temple, the Western Wall's egalitarian section stood entirely empty.
Meanwhile, Women For the Wall appealed to the police to reign in Women of the Wall, who violate the Supreme Court's ruling by holding their controversial gatherings in the central plaza instead of in the designated prayer section.
Conservative synagogues in the USA are empty and many of them rent out rooms to Orthodox schools, a fact which led Conservative synagogues to decide to allow non-Jewish spouses to be synagogue members so as not to lose additional members. This decision was a sharp turn towards Reform practice but was preceded by a decision to allow the Conservative USY youth movement counselors to date non-Jews.
In Israel, the number of Reform and Conservative Jews barely reaches 3% of the Jewish population.