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Controversy Around Miller Conversion Case is Temporarily Defused

Shoshana Miller, the convert to Judaism from the U.S. whose right to status as a Jew was upheld by the Supreme Court although she was converted by a Reform rabbi, appears to have temporarily defused the fierce controversy aroused by her case.

The Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday that Miller, who returned to the U.S. to care for her ailing father, has elected to remain there and not claim the Israeli citizenship the high court said she is entitled to.

(However, the rabbi who converted her and whose Reform congregation employed her as a cantor, Rabbi David Kline of Temple Shalom, Colorado Springs, Colo, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency Wednesday that Miller “hasn’t announced her final decision” about remaining in the United States.

(He said she is one of “three or four candidates” for her old job, and that the synagogue would decide on a cantor by the end of the month. Kline added, “There are plenty of people in the temple who would love to have her for a cantor.”)

Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz, of the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party, resigned as Interior Minister two weeks ago rather than comply with the Supreme Court’s order to issue Miller an identification card as a Jew, without the description “converted” or any other qualification.

ORTHODOX ESTABLISHMENT FURTHER ENRAGED

Deputy Minister Ronnie Milo of Likud, whom Premier Yitzhak Shamir put in direct charge of the Interior Ministry until a new Minister is appointed, announced Monday that he was prepared to issue the ID card to Miller as soon as she applied for it. But her application must be made in Israel, not from abroad, Milo said.

His statement further enraged the Orthodox religious establishment, particularly because Milo acknowledged to the Knesset that the Supreme Court’s decision established a precedent which will have to be honored by the Interior Ministry in the future. The Orthodox parties are reported seriously considering leaving the Labor-Likud unity coalition government over this issue.

The Union for Progressive Judaism, as the Reform movement is known in Israel, says it has 15 converted olim waiting to apply for ID cards in the wake of the Miller decision. But it is apparently undecided whether to initiate another test case at this time.

‘A MISERABLE EXPERIENCE IN ISRAEL’

The Jerusalem Post, in an interview with Rabbi Kline, reported him as saying that Miller was being interviewed for the job of cantor in his temple. But he did not say unequivocally that she had decided not to return to Israel. He said that she “had a miserable experience in Israel” and now wants time “out of the limelight” while she considers her future.

The rabbi added, “Her aliya just didn’t work out… I’m not ashamed of her having come back. After all, the great majority of American olim end up leaving Israel.”

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