This is very welcome news from Israel.
Mr. Sharansky, the former Soviet dissident who once led a Russian immigrant political party here and who will head the conversion compromise search, said by telephone that intensive contacts over the past week had created increased understanding between the sides. He added that at a time when Israel’s legitimacy was increasingly under attack the Jewish people needed unity and that the legitimacy of all strains needed to be acknowledged.
Creating a working group of Jewish leaders from across the spectrum to meet later in the year and hammer out an acceptable framework for handling identity issues, conversion, and citizenship. It is what Zionism is meant to be. And it makes great sense and I am grateful for the incredibly hard work put into this effort by so many people over the last few weeks.
Here's the bit from Haaretz.
Here's David Horovitz in the JPost--a bit too much hand-wringing for me.
In 1970, speaking to a group of Reform rabbis in Jerusalem, Gershom Scholem argued for a new definition of Jewishness that was beyond the halakhah. He said, "During the last hundred years, following the full achievement of emancipation in Western world around 1860, there has set in a new historical process which has profoundly changed our self-definition as against that of the Halakhah." He also said, "The question is whether the definitions found in sacred books are really decisive for most Jews in the determination of a personal affiliation to the Jewish group." If you want the article, I'll send it to you. Just write and let me know. Incredible to think that dealing with the Chief Rabbinate has still not yielded a positive result in more than a generation. Time to try something else, you think?
By the way, of everything written in the last couple weeks, nothing holds a candle to Alana Newhouse's piece in last week's NYT--always worth another read.