Religion: Israel's New Conversion Crisis

Questions about Jewish identity are raised by a U.S. emigrant's case

One of the most troublesome issues facing Israel since its founding in 1948 has been the definition of Jewish identity. Divisive cases have forced the Cabinet, the courts and the Knesset to grapple with the question: Who is a Jew? The latest phase of the dispute, involving the legitimacy of an American woman's conversion to Judaism, led last week to the resignation of Interior Minister Yitzhak Peretz from the Cabinet and threats from the country's religious parties to quit the coalition government of Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.

At the center of the controversy is Susan Miller, 43, a onetime Southern Baptist...

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