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WZO Ponders ‘who is a Jew’ Issue

The World Zionist Organization Executive discussed several cables from the United States reacting to the possibility that the Law of Return will be amended as part of the ongoing bargaining between the religious parties in Israel and Premier Menachem Begin in the effort to establish a new coalition government.

At issue is the demand that the “Who is a Jew” amendment to the Law of Return be adopted by the next Knesset that would define a Jew as any person born of a Jewish mother or converted by an Orthodox rabbi “according to halacha.” Some Conservative and Reform Jewish leaders in the U.S. have expressed opposition to the amendment while leaders of Orthodox Jews in the U.S. have been urging the religious parties in Israel to insist on its adoption as a precondition for entering the new coalition government. Cables by these groups have been sent to Begin and the WZO.

Leon Dulzin, chairman of the WZO Executive, commenting on the cables, said: “The Zionist movement is pluralistic. It includes various trends in Judaism and treats them all with respect as equals. One must make sure that all Jews continue to work together.”