USCJ and RA Deliver Letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu

USCJ and RA Deliver Letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu

Posted on September 07, 2017

This afternoon, Rabbi Steven Wernick, CEO of USCJ (The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism) and Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, CEO of the Rabbinical Assembly, hand delivered a letter to Dani Dayan, Consul General of Israel in New York, on behalf of North American Jewry.  Addressed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the letter expresses “dismay, anger and a sense of betrayal concerning events of June 25, 2017 in which the Cabinet tabled the Kotel Agreement of January 2016 and simultaneously the Legislative Committee of the Knesset put forward a new Conversion Law that would codify the Rabbanut as the sole authority in Israel for conversion to Judaism.”

Five hundred and ninety-seven leaders, representing 417 institutions including 385 North American Conservative Jewish congregations, added their names as signatories to the letter, which further states, “… in the 21st century we find it unconscionable that Israel, the Jewish State, is the only state in the world in which not all Jews are recognized or supported equally under the law or in the public square.” 

“This letter demonstrates that issues of religious pluralism are a significant priority for Conservative Jews worldwide,” said Rabbi Wernick.  “The Prime Minister had the courage to solve this historic problem and now he has to have the courage to implement its solution.” On August 31, at an Israel High Court of Justice hearing, Supreme Court President Miriam Naor stated, “Things that are frozen can be thawed,” giving the state six weeks to consider reversing the suspension of the Kotel Agreement.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu must understand that this is a unique moment in Israel’s relationship with diaspora Jewry and he and his government must honor their agreement,” said Rabbi Schonfeld. “The Kotel is one of our strongest symbols of Jewish unity and the government must ensure that it remains that symbol in perpetuity. Talk of embracing all Jews in Israel and the Diaspora must be supported by action. As Hillel taught in Avot 1:12, “[love] your fellow creatures and [attract] them to the study of Torah.”

The letter concludes by asking the Prime Minister to “immediately implement the Kotel Agreement that you yourself led in serious negotiations…” and “assure that any Conversion Law put forward recognizes the diversity of Klal Yisrael in determining who is a Jew and does not allow for a Rabbanut monopoly in Israel or elsewhere in such determinations.” 

About USCJ

Founded in 1913, USCJ is the network of nearly 600 Conservative Jewish communities across North America. We represent the values and beliefs of an authentic and dynamic Judaism in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Israel. Our work strengthens kehillot (Jewish communities inside and outside the walls of a synagogue) by providing visionary leadership training, creating opportunities for Jews of all ages to learn and grow, sharing essential resources, and seeding innovative ideas. Learn more at

About the Rabbinical Assembly

The Rabbinical Assembly is the international association of Conservative rabbis. Since its founding in 1901, the Assembly has been the creative force shaping the ideology, programs, and practices of the Conservative Movement, and is committed to building and strengthening the totality of Jewish life. Rabbis of the Assembly serve congregations throughout the world, and also work as educators, officers of communal service organizations, and college, hospital, and military chaplains. More information is available at