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Agudath Israel Assails Defeat of Amendment to the Law of Return

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The Agudath Israel of America blamed “the shortsighted and un-Jewish perspective to Judaism” of the Liberal Party faction of the Likud for the defeat in Israel’s Knesset of an amendment to the Law of Return which would have recognized as converts to Judaism only persons converted according to halacha.

The controversial “Who is a Jew” amendment was defeated last week by a vote of 58-50. Six Likud Liberals voted with the opposition Labor Alignment to reject the measure which was strongly supported by Premier Menachem Begin and the religious parties in his coalition. Six others did not vote or absented themselves from the Knesset chamber during the balloting. Five Liberal’s supported the amendment as did one Labor MK. The amendment was introduced by the Agudat Israel.

In its statement, the Agudath Israel of America noted that the action of the Liberal Party was particularly regrettable in light of the recent decision by the Reform Central Conference of American Rabbis which resolved at its national convention that the child of a non-Jewish mother married to a Jew is to be considered Jewish.

The Agudath Israel statement added: “The failure of Israel’s Parliament to finally amend the Law of Return to conform with halacha, coming so soon after the Reform rabbis’ action, will not only create chaos in Israel, but eventually can lead to intermarriage in our Holy Land.” Agudath Israel, which fought to amend the Law of Return, declared that it will not give up the battle to keep Israel spiritually intact.

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