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Knesset Defeats Religious Proposal on “who is a Jew Issue

The Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, defeated today a proposal by the religious parties to apply Jewish religious law to the determination of Jewish identity for national registration purposes. The vote was 30 to 17.

Prime Minister David Ben Gurion, who replied to the proposal, cited his Dec. 3 statement in the Knesset that all regulations of the Ministry of the Interior on registration of children of mixed marriages had been cancelled. He also noted that pending completion of a poll of Jewish scholars throughout the world, which he had organized, the registration of adults had been frozen.

Shlomo Lorenz, who proposed the measure, appealed to the deputies to remove the “shame and crime” of new regulations which enabled children of mixed marriages–as well as an adult who declared he had no other faith–to become a Jew without conversion. The issue led the National Religious Party to quit the coalition a year ago.

Mr Lorenz said the issue had created a controversy in world Jewry and had tended to cause divisions and widen the rift between religious and secular elements. Mr. Ben Gurion replied that the proposal would be interpreted as a pre-election gesture and counselled patience until the opinions of the Jewish scholars were available.

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