Aug 27, 2010

email conversation between a shefanik in Israel and David Rotem

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---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: glenn tamir <gtamir613

Dear Hevre,

I thought perhaps you might be interested in an e-mail thread I had recently with MK David Rotem, sponsor of the "Conversion Bill" in Knesset( where else can this happen but in Israel).  I think what strikes me the most is his obvious complete disregard for and lack of knowledge of the Masorti Movement.

I realize that to most/all of you, this is not some new revelation.  Perhaps it is merely a message to us that we must all focus hard on the important issues that affect us as World and especially Israeli Jews.  This is a civil rights issue so let's tell it on the mountain and reach out to the Israeli Public as best we can.  They (we) need to know about Masorti and the importance of religious pluralism.

Shabat Shalom

Glenn Tamir
Shorashim, Misgav

August 3, 2010 - Via e-mail - from Glenn Tamir to MK David Rotem:

Dear Mr. Rotem,

I have been following with interest your proposed conversion bill and I have been reading your arguments for it.  You say that you are confused why American Jews are opposed when it does not affect them but you are missing an important point.  It not that American Jews are concerned about conversions performed in America but that those Conservative and Reform Jews living in Israel - many of whom were born in Israel - will have to use rabbis who do not represent them or their religious traditions.

As an Israeli who moved here four years ago with my family, I completely agree with and support the opposition to your bill as it relegates Masorti and other non-orthodox Jews in Israel to second-class citizens.  We deserve the same civil rights to marry, bury our dead, etc... that our orthodox neighbors receive from their spiritual leaders.  Until we have these rights - perhaps under a future Constitution that will guarantee the right of this freedom of religion - I and thousands of other Israeli Masorti Jews living in Israel and millions in the US and abroad will continue to oppose the bill.

I hope now you can understand the reasoning behind this opposition and perhaps you will offer a bill to ratify a constitution or at least the option of civil marriage in Israel.


Glenn Tamir
Shorashim, Misgav


August 4, 2010 - Via e-mail - Reply from MK David Rotem:

Dear Mr. Tamir:

Thank you for your comments, and I really appreciate the fact that you are one of a very limited number of reforms leaders admitting that the opposition to my bill has got nothing to do with conversion in the U.S

Unfortunately the leaders of American Jewry claimed that they are afraid of splitting the American Jewry and are not willing to admit with the American conversion and the status of reformed and majority Jews in Israel.

Unfortunately, the reformed and massorty claim for equity, is taking as hostages about half a million citizen who are from the former Soviet Union.

Freedom of religion is a very important topic, but I am not willing to take hostages and prevent so many people from becoming a part of the Jewish nation because of this ideology.

It's a mere fact that most of this Israeli are secular and when they want religious services they go ever to any synagogue they want.

It is a fact that conservative communities did not get a grip in Israeli society.

Your rabies, would have got from the state exactly what the orthodox would have got if your numbers, And their followers would have been close to the orthodox Jews, but this is not the fact.

as to your remark about civil marriage, I ,in the name of my party" Israel betinuy", laid on the table  17th knesset, a "civil marriage" law, but this was voted against, by exactly by those people who are standing now with the conservative movements i.e ms. tzipi livni and her kadima party, Mr. Barak and his labor party.

Sincerely yours,

M.K david rotem.


 August 4, 2010 - Via e-mail - Reply from Glenn Tamir to MK David Rotem:

Dear Mr. Rotem,

I thank you for your prompt reply, and I very much appreciate the fact that you have taken the time out of your very busy schedule to write to me personally.  However, I must correct several of your statements.

I consider myself a member of the Conservative or Masorti movement - not the Reform movement to which you refered me.  I understand that like many Israelis, you see us as one but we are somewhat different.  We believe in a halachic process while our Reform brethren do not.  However, we are both very concerned about our civil rights to freely practice our traditions as citizens of the State of Israel.

I understand quite well the problem of the Jewish status of the approximately 400 thousand olim from the FSU who live in Israel.  However, the only ones who have "taken hostage" their situation are the people in the Knesset who have put in your bill that only the Orthodox Rabbinate may rule on conversions in Israel.  Would not it be more open and easier to allow those 400 thousand to have access to the rabbi of their choice - be they Haredi, Orthodox, Modern Orthodox, or Conservative - to perform the conversion?  It seems to me and millions of non-Orthodox Jews that it is the desire of the Orthodox Rabbinate to be in complete control of the conversion process that is preventing the passage of your very important legislation.

Also, your comments about the lack of acceptance of the Masorti traditions by the Israeli People are incorrect.  In fact, there are many thousands of Israelis - Sabras included - who have discovered Masorti Judaism and are active members of this movement.  While our numbers are much smaller than those of the Orthodox, they have grown over the years.  This, in spite of the lack of state funding and support for our leaders and institutions which is routinely provided the Orthodox groups and the Chief Rabbinate.

My personal experience has shown that when secular Israelis discover the Masorti way, they are very accepting and encouraged to become more traditional in their Jewish practices. Perhaps this is because our traditions teach them how to retain their Jewish values in the context of the modern world that they live in.

I want to personally invite you to come visit my yishuv of Shorashim to see our community and to witness the fact that most of our new members are not Anglos like me but native Israelis who were looking for a way to live in the modern world while keeping their Jewish faith and traditions.  There are many other communities in Israel that are growing and that reflect this progress.

As for your comment about certain Knesset leaders who have opposed your introduction of a "Civil Marriage Bill" I can only infer that their reason for not supporting it was due to the included amendments, like those in this "Conversion Bill", which do not allow for the level of equality necessary for support of the legislation.  I would be very interested in reading a copy of your proposed law if you would be kind enough to send it to me - in Hebrew or English.  Nothing of course was ever received....

While the issue of freedom of religion may not seem to be of the same importance as the Jewish status of those 400 thousand Israelis who came from the FSU, I am sure that there is a way to craft your bill to provide a remedy that meets both the needs of your constituents and the concerns of the millions of Jews who are voicing their concerns to you and the Prime Minister.  I know that you will have much support from Israeli and Diaspora Jews if you followed this inclusive path.  You might be surprised to know that I voted for your party in the last elections for Knesset.  Support that I have been criticized for but would very much like to continue to show in the future.

May Hashem give you the strength and vision to help lead our People towards a future that keeps Clal Israel together so that we may move forward as a nation and deal with the important issues that we all face now, and in the future.


Glenn Tamir
Shorashim, Misgav

...There have been no further replies from MK David Rotman.........