An Am Echad delegation with some 40 top business and community leaders from the US, South America and Europe, arrived last week in Israel to meet government and Knesset members for discussions on issues of religion and state.
On Wednesday, the mission met with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) and raised the concerns of Diaspora Jews about the conversion reform, warning the PM it would create irreversible damage to Diaspora communities. During the meeting, Minister Shaked assured the delegation that only changes that will be accepted by everybody will be made in the Western Wall.
The Prime Minister was touched by Am Echad's co-chair Dr. Irving Lebovics, who told him: “After your passing, your real legacy would be not what you did for the economy or other issues, but have you built Judaism or destroyed it.”
After the meeting, Am Echad Israel Director Leah Aharoni said: "The meeting was held in good spirits. The issues of the Western Wall and the conversion require the broad agreement of the entire Jewish people. We have agreed on continued meetings with Prime Minister’s office, especially on the issue of the conversion bill."
The mission members have met also with Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Blue and White), Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar (New Hope), Construction and Housing Minister Ze'ev Elkin (New Hope), Opposition Leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, and US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides.
Ahead of the delegation’s arrival, Am Echad exchanged several letters with Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana (Yamina) regarding his conversion bill.
"We were startled to see the gap between the bill and the statements made by Minister Kahana," said Leah Aharoni. "Unfortunately, the government approved a law that would affect millions of Diaspora Jews, yet ignores the outcry by rabbis and organizations active on the ground who warn of the acute damage of this bill to the communities in the Diaspora."
"The State of Israel is bluntly distancing the Diaspora Jews."