Begin Asks for More Time on ‘who is a Jew’ Issue

Premier Menachem Begin has asked the Agudat Israel to refrain for the time being from pressing for a Knesset vote on the controversial “Who is a Jew?” issue. The proposed amendment to the Law of Return failed to pass a preliminary test in parliament last summer.

Begin has committed himself to the Aguda to do all he can to assure adoption of the measure which would establish Orthodox criteria in law to determine who is a Jew. After last summer’s failure, he told the chairman of the Aguda Knesset faction, Avraham Shapiro, to try again when a Knesset majority seems assured.

Shapiro apparently believes the time is ripe, since the Begin government now has a comfortable majority in the Knesset. But he was told by Begin to hold off because of the delicate political situation in the country and the strong opposition to the measure among non-Orthodox Jews in America.

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