Agudath Israel: Mrs. Zeidmann’s ‘quickie’ Conversion Setback for Orthodoxy

The executive committee of Agudath Israel of America has recommended that the Rabbinical Council of America and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations quit the Synagogue Council of America because of its alleged failure to “contain the expansionist aims of the Reform and Conservative movements.” Agudath Israel acted in the wake of the Orthodox conversion of Mrs. Helen Zeidmann. According to Agudath Israel, Mrs. Zeidmann’s second conversion was not a victory for Orthodoxy but “a setback in the efforts to revise Israel’s ‘Who Is A Jew?’ law to conform with traditional halacha, because many may be deluded to believe that the crisis has been solved.” Agudath Israel’s executive committee continued: “The victory paeans over Mrs. Zeidmann’s Orthodox conversion cover up the fact that the recently enacted Knesset law recognizes Reform ‘quickie’ conversions. While the second Zeidmann conversion was a convenient last-minute escape hatch for the Mizrachi to justify its remaining in the Israel Cabinet…, it did not in the slightest solve the serious problem caused by the new Israeli law, which will act with jet-like propulsion to accelerate assimilation and intermarriage.”

The Agudath committee concluded that “The continued membership of the Orthodox groups in the Synagogue Council grants implied religious status to (the) Reform groups, and is a disservice to the united Orthodox attempt to deny the Reform groups religious status in Israel.” Concurrently,.Rabbi Bernard A.Poupko, national president of the Religious Zionists of America, praised the NRP “for courageously and steadfastly pursuing their struggle for a conversion legislation which will be fully in accordance with Jewish (halachic) law.” He told the RZA national banquet “The very unity and the authentic image of the Jew and Judaism is being threatened by introducing multiple and halachically unauthorized standards of conversion in the State of Israel…By diluting and distorting the Torah essence of the Jewish personality, we are endangering the secure, normal and historic continuity of the Jewish people.” He urged the Israeli government “not to accept or to recognize any conversion to Judaism which is not performed in accordance with Jewish law.”

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