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Chief Rabbi Goren Seeks Meeting with Nixon on Israel’s Spiritual Role

Rabbi Shlomo Goren, the Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Israel, said today that he hoped to meet with President Nixon before or immediately after his summit conference in Moscow. He said he wanted to explain to the President, who has just returned from a visit to four Arab countries and Israel, the spiritual role of Israel among the nations and the religious and spiritual mission of Israel. According to Rabb Goren, who is visiting the U.S. on behalf of the Israel Bond Organization, the idea for a meeting with Nixon came from American Jewish sources.

Chief Rabbi Goren told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in an interview at his Waldorf-Astoria Hotel suite that he expected the Law of Return to be amended so that only halachic conversions would be recognized in Israel. He said that when that happened, the way would be open for the National Religious Party to join the Labor-led coalition government of Premier Yitzhak Rabin “and this will unify the people of Israel once again.”

Rabbi Goren was adamant against accepting conversions performed by non-Orthodox rabbis. He said the Reform movement in the U.S. was making a “grave mistake” by demanding that Israel recognize non-halachic conversions and claimed that they thus “demonstrated their alienation from the Law of Moses.” He said he would not seek meetings with Reform and Conservative rabbis in the U.S. “I will not initiate it, but, I will accept such requests on their part,” Rabbi Goren told the JTA.

Asked about his long standing public feud with Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Rabbi Goren said “The controversial point between us is the fact that he wants to have a veto right on all decisions taken by the Council of the Chief Rabbinate. I never had a fight with him.”

Rabbi Goren was enthusiastic about the reception he has received in the U.S. Earlier today he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by Yeshiva University. Next week he will attend a rabbinical conference in Miami.

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