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Chicago Federation Chief Warns Israeli Lawmakers On Strict Conversion Law

(JTA) — Israeli lawmakers who vote for a conversion bill making its way through the Knesset are not welcome in Chicago, said a top Jewish leader there.

“The federation in Chicago will not be hosting any member of Knesset that votes for this bill. None. They will not be welcome in our community,” Steven Nasatir, president of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, told The Times of Israel in an interview published Tuesday.

On Sunday, government ministers approved a bill that would require the state to recognize only conversions conducted under the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate. It would nullify Israel’s recognition of conversions performed in Israel under Reform and Conservative auspices.

“We’re past the time when we’re standing and applauding and being nice because they’re members of Knesset or because they hold this position or that position,” Nasatir, who has been an associate member of the Jewish Agency’s board of governors since 1993, also told The Times of Israel. “They’re not welcome in our community, period.”

Nasatir, whose federation last year allocated over $29 million for beneficiaries in Israel and overseas, said he would not be surprised if the Jewish federations of other cities followed suit.

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