JERUSALEM (Jul. 26)
The 63rd annual convention of the American Mizrachi Movement opened here yesterday in the presence of the Chief Rabbis, Cabinet ministers, movement leaders in Israel and the United States and a large number of delegates and members.
Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren said diaspora Jewry faces the greatest assimilation threat in its history. He said in many regions in the U.S. 40 percent of Jewish youth intermarry and that many get divorced in civil courts.even if they wed in a religious ceremony. While in Tel Aviv, with a population of 500,000 Jews there are eight rabbinical courts loaded with work. Rabbi Goren said, in New York, with its population of 3 million Jews, there are only three rabbinical courts where there should be 50.
Rabbi Goren said only a small percentage of conversions in the diaspora are conducted according to the halacha and not much is done to correct this situation. The battle over the “Who is a Jew” question is to a certain extent a battle over the integrity of the people in the diaspora, he declared.
He said that separation between state and religion in Israel had been prevented until now, as well as any attempt to change the present personal law which follows the halacha. He said despite easing up of the conversion process with families of Soviet immigrants, these families are hardly seen at the rabbinical courts. The Chief Rabbinate intends to establish a special absorption center for mixed immigrant families and operate a national rabbinical court for conversions, Rabbi Goren said. “Whoever is worried about the situation in Israel,” he said, “should come to Israel and join the thousands of religious Jews in determining the character of the country.
Interior Minister Dr. Yosef Burg said there was more light in Israel than shadow. He said the National Religious Party was the first political force in the country that conducted democratic internal elections. He stated that before dealing with the question of “Who is a Jew” one should determine what is a Jew. One should also learn what real Judaism means in our day.”
Rabbi Tzemah Zambrovsky, chairman of the Mizrachi World Center asked the Mizrachi members to send their children to Israel and not to stay in the diaspora and complain there about the situation here.