NEW YORK (May. 18)
A demand for re-institution of halachic conversions in Israel was made here by 150 rabbis and more than 3000 Orthodox Jews at a two-day conference sponsored by the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada (Agudath Horabonim). The conference warned that if non-Orthodox conversions were recognized, they would “lead to the opening of doors to Reform and Conservatism from which the Jews in the diaspora are suffering so much.”
The conference also reaffirmed the call by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate and the Orthodox Rabbinate in the diaspora for the resignation of the “religious ministers” from Israel’s Cabinet. Rabbi Simcha Elberg, chairman of Agudath Horabonim, announced that a large international delegation would go to Israel to try to influence a change in the “Who is a Jew?” law. The 150 rabbis attending the conference were from the Americas, Canada, Israel, Europe and Australia.
The meeting resolved that when the Torah authorities in Israel proclaim a public fast on the conversion question, Agudath Horabonim would proclaim it in the diaspora. In addition, the conference issued three other appeals: to American Jewry to aid new Soviet immigrants in Israel, especially Georgian Jews; to the Israeli government to let Georgian Jewish immigrants “lead their lives in accordance with their traditions for which they have sacrificed themselves for the last 50 years,” and to the Soviet Union to “allow full religious freedom for the Jews in Russia.”