Federation Leaders and Many Community Rabbis Express Disappointment Over Actions on Kotel and Conversion

We are deeply disappointed by the Israeli government’s decision to renege on its commitment to ensure egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall, a move that threatens to undermine the special relationship between Israel and world Jewry. The government’s callous disregard for the carefully crafted agreement reached by all denominations of Judaism is a betrayal of trust and the foundational principle that Judaism’s holiest site belongs to all Jewish people.

We are equally outraged by the government’s decision to support legislation that threatens the status quo on conversion to Judaism, dramatically expanding the authority of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate. Should this legislation pass, it would give Israel’s Rabbinate a monopoly on the conversion process with the potential to exclude hundreds of thousands of Jews in the diaspora from emigrating to Israel, marrying in Israel, and being legally accepted as members of the Jewish people in their historic homeland.

Our Greater MetroWest Jewish Federation and Jewish Community Foundation (JCF) have a deep and longstanding commitment to encouraging religious pluralism in Israel. Through our UJA Annual Campaign and JCF we support a wide range of programs that celebrate the diversity of Jewish observance: from The Grand Sukkah in Tel Aviv port that has allowed tens of thousands of Israelis to celebrate Sukkot in an inclusive, egalitarian fashion, to dozens of Jerusalem-based organizations that support religious expression, from secular to Orthodox. Religious pluralism is a core, foundational value that we believe upholds Zionism’s purpose, to bind the Jewish people.   

At a time when the divide between Israel and the American Jewish community has been growing (witness the steep decline – according to a recent study – of support for Israel among Jewish college students in the U.S.), yesterday’s actions threaten to deepen the fissures between our two communities. 

We call upon the Israeli government to reaffirm the highest aspirations of Jewish peoplehood by accommodating all members of our global Jewish community in Judaism’s holiest space.   We urge them to reverse these decisions and recognize that the strength of the Jewish people lies in recognizing the Kotel as a unifying force for all Jews, regardless of how they pray or what denomination of Judaism they adhere to.

Finally, we call upon the government to rescind its support for the conversion bill which threatens to diminish already dwindling support for the Jewish State and, instead, reaffirm unity and inclusivity as a sacred imperative of Zionism and Jewish peoplehood.

Leslie Dannin Rosenthal
Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ

Robert Kuchner
Jewish Community Foundation of Greater MetroWest NJ

Scott Krieger
Incoming President
Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ

Stanley Stone
Executive Director
Jewish Community Foundation of Greater MetroWest NJ

Dov Ben-Shimon
Executive VP/CEO
Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ


Rabbi Joel N. Abraham
Temple Sholom, Fanwood

Rabbi Steven Kushner
Temple Ner Tamid, Bloomfield

Rabbi Cecilia Beyer
Temple Beth Ahm Yisrael, Springfield

Rabbi Mark Mallach
Temple Beth Ahm Yisrael, Springfield

Rabbi Daniel M. Cohen, D. Min.
Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel, South Orange

Rabbi Steven Mills
Temple Beth Am, Parsippany

Rabbi Mark Cooper
Oheb Shalom Congregation, South Orange

Rabbi Randi Musnitsky, D.Min.
Temple Har Shalom, Warren

Rabbi Faith Joy Dantowitz
Temple B'nai Abraham, Livingston

Rabbi David Nesson
Morristown Jewish Center Beit Yisrael

Rabbi Marc Disick
Temple Emanu-El of West Essex

Rabbi Jesse M. Olitzky
Congregation Beth El, South Orange

Rabbi Renee Edelman
Temple Sha’arey Shalom, Springfield

Rabbi Karen R. Perolman
Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, Short Hills

Rabbi Avi Friedman
Congregation Ohr Shalom – Summit JCC

Rabbi Charles S. Popky
White Meadow Temple

Rabbi Daniel Geretz

Rabbi Ethan Prosnit
Temple Emanu-El, Westfield

Rabbi Stuart Gershon, D.D.
Temple Sinai, Summit

Rabbi Moshe Rudin
Adath Shalom, Morris Plains

Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz
Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, Short Hills

Rabbi Douglas Sagal
Temple Emanu-El, Westfield

Rabbi David Greenstein
Congregation Shomrei Emunah, Montclair

Rabbi Alan Silverstein
Congregation Agudath Israel, Caldwell

Rabbi Lawrence W. Groffman
Temple Sholom of West Essex

Rabbi Geoffrey A. Spector
Temple Beth Shalom, Livingston

Rabbi David Klatzker
Temple Beth-El Mekor Chayim, Cranford

Rabbi Elliott Tepperman
Bnai Keshet, Montclair

Rabbi Alexandra Klein
Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel, South Orange

Rabbi Howard Tilman
Congregation Beth Israel, Scotch Plains

Rabbi Clifford M. Kulwin
Temple B'nai Abraham, Livingston

Rabbi Ariann Weitzman
Bnai Keshet, Montclair