J-REC Praises Prime Minister Netanyahu's Vow to Support Jewish Pluralism

Nov 11, 2015, 12:49 ET from American Jewish Committee

JERUSALEM, Nov. 11, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Jewish Religious Equality Coalition (J-REC) salutes Prime Minister Netanyahu on his commitment to the principle that the state of Israel recognizes and welcomes all streams of Judaism.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu's pledge to American Jews is precisely what J-REC has been advocating in our meetings in Israel this week," said Steven Bayme, AJC director of Contemporary Jewish Life, who staffs J-REC.

Created and led by AJC, J-REC is a broad-based coalition of American Jews and Israelis dedicated to the realization of full religious equality in the Jewish state, and is mobilizing support for the creation of alternatives to the Chief Rabbinate.

"Whether Jews decide to live in Israel or not," said Netanyahu, "I will always ensure that all Jews can feel at home in Israel – Reform Jews, Conservative Jews, and Orthodox Jews – all Jews."

In his remarks before the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) General Assembly in Washington, DC, the prime minister also announced the creation, in his office, of a roundtable that will bring together the various streams of Judaism "to discuss problems and more importantly to discuss solutions."

And, he announced that the Israeli government, together with the Jewish Agency for Israel, will "invest in strengthening Reform and Conservative communities within Israel."

"We look forward to the implementation of these bold initiatives that will strengthen the unity of the Jewish people, and Israel," said Bayme.

Since its founding a year ago, J-REC has warned repeatedly that the Chief Rabbinate's monopoly over personal status issues, such as conversion and marriage, poses threats to Israel's democratic nature and ultimately to its national security. Any weakening of the U.S. Jewish attachment to Israel could adversely impact the U.S.-Israel special relationship.

J-REC members this week are meeting with Israeli government officials, including in the prime minister's office and Knesset members, Israelis who have sought alternate ways to marry and convert, and civil society organizations active on promoting religious pluralism.

"We look forward to the prime minister acting quickly to follow up on his remarks, given the urgent need to reinforce the historically strong ties between Israel and American Jewry," said Dov Zakheim, chair of AJC's Contemporary Jewish Life Commission, who also serves as chair of J-REC.

"As Prime Minister Netanyahu stated in his JFNA address, 'maintaining the unity of our people is of paramount importance'," Bayme added. "For the sake of Jewish peoplehood and for Israeli security, we could not agree more."


SOURCE American Jewish Committee