Mrs. Meir Urges Nrp Not to Quit Cabinet; Supreme Court to Decide Conversion Case

Premier Golda Meir appealed to the National Religious Party today not to quit her coalition cabinet. She warned that this is not the time to take “such a grave step.” The Orthodox party has threatened to walk out over the issue of conversion. The Israeli Supreme Court will render a decision next Wednesday in the case of Mrs. Helen Zeidman, an American-born Israeli who is suing the government for official recognition as a Jew. Her conversion was performed by a Reform rabbi in Tel Aviv whom the Orthodox Rabbinate refuses to recognize. The NRP, backed by the Chief Rabbinate, has demanded that the government initiate a new law that will invalidate conversions to Judaism performed by non-Orthodox rabbis. The government has refused and the NRP executive is scheduled to meet Wednesday to decide on whether or not to leave the Cabinet. The Cabinet also decided today to meet in extra-ordinary session Wednesday following the Supreme Court’s decision. It is regarded as almost a foregone conclusion that the Court will rule in Mrs. Zeidman’s favor, especially as the States Attorney refused a week ago to contest the case. The Chief Rabbinet has banned the Orthodox politicians from continuing to serve in the coalition Cabinet unless the government gives in to their demands on the conversion issue. The government apparently is standing firm against Orthodox pressure at home and from abroad. Mrs. Meir met last night with two NRP leaders, Minister of Welfare Joseph Burg and Minister of Religious Affairs, Zerach Warhaftig, but no agreement was reached. Mrs. Meir reportedly reiterated that no new legislation in the matter of conversions can be contemplated.

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