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Rabbi Asher Lopatin’s Knesset Remarks

by Rabbi Asher Lopatin (Posted on December 30, 2016)
Topics: Israel, Leadership

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Honorable MK Elazar Shtern, MK Aliza Lavie, Chairman Natan Sharansky, Rabbis, Rabbaniot, and all who are leaders and thinkers:

Israel’s Law of Return: Sometimes we in the Diaspora ask, does the State of Israel, the Jewish State, really believe in and support the Law of Return.  I say this because sadly we have seen that the Israel Interior Ministry does not allow genuine, serious Jews to make aliya to the Jewish State…

When I was a rabbi in Chicago of an Orthodox synagogue, Anshe Sholom … I was a member of a Beit Din which converted a wonderful, sincere man who later wanted to make aliya.  He already had a job waiting for him in Israel as a reporter.  However, since the Orthodox Beit Din upon which I was a dayan (judge) was not part of a larger organization, they did not allow this man to make aliya.  What a loss for the State of Israel, and what a personal loss for this man and his family.

Yet, the second example I want to mention is even more stunning:  There are nine individuals currently who did convert through an established organization of rabbis – Conservative (the Rabbinical Assmebly), but 100% acceptable according to the law in Israel.  They should have already qualified for aliya by the Interior Ministry, according to the rulings of the Israeli Supreme Court.  The Law of Return should enable these Jews to make aliya.  The Interior Ministry, however, does not allow them to leave Venezuela.  Their lives are now in danger because of the anti-Semitism and violence in Venezuela: these are Jews who want to come to the Land of the Jews, to the State of Israel, and the Interior Ministry is not allowing them to enter.  This is a question of saving lives!

I lived in here (in Israel) when, in 1976 Israel freed the hostages in Entebbe.  But now the State of Israel cannot save nine Jews in Venezuela to come to Israel to preserve their lives and their children’s lives.

Therefore, as an Orthodox rabbi who heads an Orthodox rabbinical school that has given ordination to over 100 rabbis, I ask from you: We in the Diaspora need to see that the State of Israel believes in and supports the Law of Return.  [We need to see] that every Jew, born Jewish or converted, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, from New York or Venezuela, can make aliya to Israel and to be part of the Jewish destiny in the only Jewish state in the world  – right here in the State of Israel.

I ask of you: A great miracle once occurred here!  Please place any pressure you can to enable the Interior Ministry to carry out the miracle of Chanukah, the miracle of a true Jewish State in the State of Israel, to all Jews, wherever they may live, and however they may have converted.



Rabbi Lopatin,  Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove of Park Avenue Synagogue and MK Elazar Shtern