Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu:
We are alarmed to learn of the pressure being exerted by some Members of Knesset and by an organization called ITIM among others — who are actively joining with the American Reform and Conservative movements and the secular Federation — in expressing their hostility to the Chief Rabbinate and aggressively calling for the State of Israel to remove the Chief Rabbinate from all matters pertaining to marriage, divorce and faith identity.
They claim that in the short term, this move will increase Jewish unity and Diaspora support for Israel. They are sadly mistaken about the short term; whose causes lie deeper than any change of this nature can impact. However, even worse are the long-term effects of this proposal, which will devastate global Jewry and its support for Israel. This counterproductive proposal amounts to an invitation for chaos and divisiveness within the world Jewish community, resulting in even greater assimilation and loss of Jewish identity among world Jewry.
These religious-political parties’ opposition to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel reflects their unrestrained deviations from classical Judaism and Halacha that they promote under the guise of civil liberty and personal choice. Jews identify as Jews and support Israel due to love of tradition and respect for religious heritage. Undermining that tradition will devastate Jewish identity and support for Jewish causes.
As such, we the undersigned rabbis and spiritual leaders of congregations, yeshivot and communal organizations representing the Jewish community of the United States & Canada hereby reiterate our complete support of the institution and office of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel as it is presently headed by the venerable Rav Harashi HaGaon Rav David Lau and the venerable Rishon LeTzion HaGaon Chacham Yitzchak Yosef; may they prosper and lead Israel and the Jewish people in good health and success.
Mr. Prime Minister, the eyes of all Israel are upon you. We recognize the many pressures and elements both within Israel and from without who seek to weaken both the State and the people of Israel.
Although there may be improvements needed at the offices of the Chief Rabbinate, it is of the most urgent and immediate necessity that the Chief Rabbinate remain the exclusive authority of all matters pertaining to Giyur (conversion) and matters pertaining to religious identity and personal status as they are indicated and codified in the Code of Jewish Law – Halacha & Shulchan Aruch.
We join in support of the Chief Rabbinate’s call to not place matters of Giyur and marriage into the hands of an independent government commission or entity. This will only create confusion, strife and discord both in Israel and the Diaspora.
The time hallowed and established heritage and customs of our people (Halacha) serves to unite and preserve the unity and integrity of the Jewish people of all backgrounds and levels of observance. In fact, these standards continue to both protect and unite the world Jewish community from assimilation and intermarriage.
With the current General Assembly taking place in Tel Aviv, we recognize the unmitigated blatant pressures and threats they espouse in seeking to impose their non-compliance to classical Judaism and Jewish practice hallowed by millennia. They do not represent the majority of Jews, whether affiliated or not. They certainly do not represent the majority of Jewish schoolchildren, the next generation of support for Israel. They represent only themselves, an aging group of Jewish professionals who have lost their constituents to assimilation and poor leadership.
Rabbi Yehoshua S. Hecht, Chairman of the RAA presidium noted that the RAA represents nearly 1,000-member rabbis who support and uphold the standards that strengthen Jewish identity from the time Jewish peoplehood was established at Sinai.
May the One who makes peace in the Heavenly heights make peace upon us and upon all Israel, Amen.
Rabbi Hanania Elbaz, Brooklyn NY
Rabbi Yehoshua S. Hecht, Norwalk, CT
Rabbi Yaakov Klass, Brooklyn, NY
Rabbi Yaakov Spivak, Monsey, NY
Rabbi Herschel Kurzrock, Brooklyn, NY
Chief Judge Rabbinical Court
Rabbi Dov Aaron Brisman, Philadelphia, PA
Assistant Chief Judge Rabbinical Court
Rabbi Chaim Komendant; Passaic, NJ
Administrative Judge Rabbinical Court
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik
Executive Vice-President, Staten Island, NY
Rabbi Moish Schmerler, Woodmere, NY
Rabbi Shamaryahu Shulman, Lakewood, NJ
Honorary President & Sr. Judge Rabbinical Court