Jewish Agency Urges Israeli Government Not to Make Any Changes in Law of Return

The Jewish Agency Assembly overwhelmingly approved today a resolution urging the government not to introduce amendments to the Law of Return in the Knesset.

The resolution was adopted by a vote of 119-38 after a bitter exchange between the Orthodox delegates and the representatives of Conservative and Reform Judaism. The Orthodox have been pressing for years for an amendment that would invalidate conversions to Judaism not performed “according to halacha.” The effect would be to deny Jewish status to immigrants converted by non-Orthodox rabbis abroad.

The amendment has been introduced in the Knesset several times in recent years and decisively defeated. It has been opposed on grounds that it is divisive and would create a serious rift between diaspora Jewry and Israel.

Leon Dulzin, chairman of the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization Executives, wrote Premier Shimon Peres recently demanding that the government consult with the Jewish Agency on any move to amend the Law of Return. Dulzin stressed that any changes could be harmful to the functioning of the Jewish Agency because aliya is one of its primary responsibilities.

DULZIN PROPOSES NEW UNIVERSITY

Dulzin proposed to the Assembly yesterday the establishment in Israel of a prestigious American-Jewish university similar to the American University in Beirut. He maintained that such a university would attract most of the 40,000 American Jewish students now studying in Europe and bring them to Israel.

Dulzin said the main educational goals of the Jewish Agency are to offer tens of thousands of Jewish youths from overseas periods of study in Israel of varying lengths; training hundreds of teachers to improve the quality of Jewish education in the diaspora; and to send Israeli artists to Jewish communities abroad.

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