American Rabbis Approve of Israel’s Supreme Court Decision

The decision of Israel’s Supreme Court rejecting the application for Israeli Jewish citizenship by a Jewish convert to Catholicism was approved here today by the Synagogue Council of America, which represents the Reform, Conservative and Orthodox groups in this country, as well as by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.

Rabbi Julius Mark, president of the Synagogue Council, declared: “Jewish identity implies a profession in our millennia old faith. It means involvement in the historic destiny of our people as a whole and being an integral part of the community of those who are committed to Judaism. Father Daniel, by voluntarily disowning the Jewish faith, has severed his bond with the historic Jewish community throughout the world. He therefore no longer shares a common destiny with it and has forfeited the prerogatives of being considered a Jew.”

Rabbi Balfour Brickner, the director of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations’ Commission on Interfaith Activities, said: “It should be made clear that the decision in no way precludes the possibility of Father Daniel’s becoming an Israeli citizen. It only says that his application for citizenship cannot be based on the fact that he once was, or may still considers him self to be, Jewish.

“This decision should make abundantly clear that, just as all Israelis are not Jews, so all Jews are not Israelis. It is possible to be a Christian or a Moslem and a citizen of Israel, just as it is possible to be an American Catholic. To be a Jew is to be a member of a religious and/or an ethnic group. Only in Israel does the word ‘Jew’ involve nationality. For far too long, this important distinction has been confused, sometimes purposefully, by those who have consistently tried to raise the specter of dual loyalty. It was a false issue when initially promulgated, and it is even more obviously a false issue in the light of this decision.”

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