JEWS UPSET OVER BILL IN ISRAEL.Byline: David Bloom David Bloom (May 22, 1963 – April 6, 2003) was an NBC journalist (co-anchor of Weekend Today and reporter) until his sudden death in 2003 at the age of 39. Early life Daily News Staff Writer
For more than half her 80 years, Martha Goldberg of Reseda has watched Israel grow into a stable, relatively secure home for Jews of all types.
Sephardic and Ashkenazi, Russian and Ethiopian, Orthodox and Reconstructed, all had a refuge guaranteed them in Israeli law Israeli law
Legal practices and institutions of modern Israel. The ancient people of Israel created the law of the Torah and the Mishna (the latter was later incorporated into the Talmud). and society.
Now that's in doubt, say Goldberg and other Jews in Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. . They are outraged at a bill before the Israeli Knesset that would bar religious conversions in Israel not presided over by Orthodox rabbis.
``I've been a Jew all my life,'' said Goldberg. ``But it's not recognized by the Orthodox. I resent that. Who are they to tell me what to believe?''
The controversy has been building for months, bringing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week to a three-day U.S. tour, including Los Angeles on Monday.
In Indianapolis on Sunday, Netanyahu said there are ``no second-class Jews.'' In two Los Angeles appearances Monday, he attempted to downplay the bill and pinned hopes on a conciliation conciliation: see mediation. commission he named.
``We have to seek a broad and, indeed, historic understanding among all (Jews),'' Netanyahu said. But the commission's findings have been repeatedly delayed.
Netanyahu assured American Jews American Jews, or Jewish Americans, are American citizens or resident aliens who were born into the Jewish community or who have converted to Judaism. The United States is home to one of the largest Jewish communities in the world. that all conversions outside Israel will be recognized in the Jewish state.
Such comments did little to ease the fears of some Los Angeles Jews that the law will divide the country and its U.S. supporters.
``This issue reflects questions about whether Israeli society and the Knesset, under the power of the Orthodox parties, will be able to develop an open, pluralistic democracy,'' said Louis Lainer, a West Los Angeles
``It's clear that for a lot of American Jews, this is turning them off from continuing support of Israel,'' Lainer said. ``It's another area where non-Orthodox Judaisms are delegitimized.''
The bill does have its American supporters, including Orthodox Rabbi Marvin Sugarman, who heads the Shaarey Zedek Congregation in North Hollywood. He said the question of whether to keep supporting the country should never even come up.
``I'm just flabbergasted flab·ber·gast
tr.v. flab·ber·gast·ed, flab·ber·gast·ing, flab·ber·gasts
To cause to be overcome with astonishment; astound. See Synonyms at surprise.
[Origin unknown. they (non-Orthodox Jews) should even make a stand on this issue,'' Sugarman said.
``We religious Jews have a fundamental belief in the sanctity of the Jewish state. For Jews in America to decide whether or not they will support Israel based on an action by the Knesset is just disgraceful. They're grasping for straws. Their movement is almost a dead movement.''
But the bill tells ``non-Orthodox Jews here that they are not looked on as Jews. When I travel around the country, it's clear many American Jews are just livid livid /liv·id/ (liv´id) discolored, as from a contusion or bruise; black and blue.
adj. ,'' said Executive Director Norman Rosenberg of the New Israel Fund The New Israel Fund (NIF) is a fund that is set up as the result of a philanthropic partnership of Israelis, North Americans and Europeans to provide financial and technical support to hundreds of national and community-based organizations. .
At the Jewish Home for the Aged in Reseda, where Goldberg and others live in the state's largest Jewish rest home, residents said the bill denies the very things they've spent their whole lives building.
``I'm Zionist 100 percent,'' said Frieda Waxman, 92. ``But I myself think everyone has a right to decide what they want to think. I think (the bill) is wrong. If you're a Jew, you're a Jew. You can be Orthodox, Conservative or Reformed, but you're a Jew.''
Jay Abarbanel, a property manager active in many Jewish causes, said the American backlash over the bill caught Israeli politicians List of Israeli politicians:
``The backlash has been tremendous,'' Abarbanel said. ``Politics is a tough game. You make decisions as you see fit.
``But the time comes when you decide what kind of society you're going to have: a democracy or a theocracy theocracy
Government by divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided. In many theocracies, government leaders are members of the clergy, and the state's legal system is based on religious law. Theocratic rule was typical of early civilizations. . I think the Israelis are going to have to come to grips with this one.''
PHOTO Frieda Waxman, 92, expresses her views on the conversions bill before the Israeli Knesset.
John McCoy/Daily News