Special to the JTA Orthodox Rabbis Say Begin Will Do All to Amend the Who is a Jew Law

Leaders of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada claimed today that Premier Menachem Begin of Israel reiterated to them the commitments he made to his religious coalition partners in Israel, including a promise to do everything possible to obtain a Knesset majority to amend the Law of Return by including the term “according to halacha” in connection with conversions to Judaism.

In a statement released to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today, the Orthodox rabbis presented their version of a meeting last Sunday with Begin at the home of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, president of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis, before Begin left for Washington.

The statement quoted Feinstein as saying, “I have already pointed out numerous times, in writing and in speech, of the inherent danger in the who is a Jew law which recognizes false conversions, and it is therefore most important Mr. Begin’s promise to amend the law so it will clearly state that conversions are valid only if performed according to halacha.”

According to the statement, Feinstein also reminded Begin that in a previous discussion with him he “expressed satisfaction with the agreement between Agudath Israel and the Begin government which promised to institute changes in favor of Judaism, including prohibitions against working on Shabbos, drafting girls in the army, autopsies, the abortion law as well as other commitments in subjects of education.”

CONFIDENT COMMITMENTS WILL BE MET

Rabbi Simcha Elberg, chairman of the Union’s administrative committee, expressed confidence that after Begin’s agreement with the Aguda Israel Party in Israel “all of the commitments–beginning with prohibiting work on Shabbos till the recent abortion law–will be fulfilled. . . Also the commitment to amend the who is a Jew law should not merely remain a promise on paper.”

According to Elberg, “the inclusion of the word halacha within the legislation of Eretz Yisroel is in itself of monumental significance.” Israel must be governed by halacha, he asserted.

Rabbi Hirsh Ginsberg, director of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis, said, “Till now, we had to protest against negative developments, today, however, we live with hope that we will merit seeing Israel bloom in the spirit of Torah.”

According to the statement, “Mr. Begin answered to all the above, giving hearty thanks for the opportunity to meet with the rabbonim and reiterated that he will make speedy implementation of all his commitments, stressing that he will do everything possible to mount a majority to amend the who is a Jew law.” The meeting between Begin and the Union was one of several last Sunday the Premier had with Jewish communal and rabbinic leaders.

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