Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ger V'Toshav - Which is Which?

I know that the conversion issue is beaten to death - but it always comes back to life. The Jerusalem Post seems to find the opinions of three non-religious tzeklopta hoshaanas (has beens) as newsworthy. I am reprinting last Thursday's JPost item and interspersing the thoughts that came to my mind. I wonder what anybody who read that item thinks about the mental acuity of these three "officials" and of the Jerusalem Post in general:

Conversion must be taken out of haredi hands, officials say

Comment: This is the title of the piece. Frankly, I had no inkling that conversion was in haredi hands. For more, click here.

The three Israeli officials most involved in relations with the Diaspora called on Wednesday to remove the country's conversion process from the "hands of the haredim."

Cabinet Secretary Ovad Yehezkel,

Comment: Remember him? Check this out (here).

Diaspora Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog

Comment: He's from Labor if you didn't know.

and Jewish Agency chairman Ze'ev Bielski, all outgoing

Comment: And we will sorely miss them.

as the country goes to elections and Bielski takes a leave of absence to compete in the Kadima primary, said the conversion process was too inflexible and harmed aliya and society.

Comment: How so?

The final legal authority on conversion is Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, a follower of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
Speaking at a Jewish Agency Board of Governors meeting in Jerusalem, Yehezkel said the current conversion process was "stuck" because of the demands of haredi political parties that converts "adopt a haredi, not merely observant, lifestyle after their conversions."

Comment: What is the difference? Did you notice any Conversion Authority stipulations for converts as to which hechsherim to eat or if they can rely on Hetter Mechira? Did any body (even Dayan Sherman) make an issue over what kind of kippa the convert wears or even if the woman covers her hair?
Neither did I.

Moreover, didn't Yehezkel say in March that the problem was requiring a convert to keep any observance at all? Did he get so much "frummer" over eight months?

The failure of the Conversion Authority to deal with some 300,000 non-Jewish olim who came to Israel as family members of Jewish olim "is not an administrative problem," Yehezkel told The Jerusalem Post. "It is a political problem. If the haredim don't begin to show flexibility, the moderate Orthodox establishment in Israel will begin to independently convert many thousands of Jews.

Comment: Where have you been? Haven't they been doing it since 1993?

In the end, the State of Israel will be forced to recognize these conversions regardless of the desires of the Chief Rabbinate or the official Conversion Authority."

Comment: This is unclear. The Law of return already is not based on Halachic standards. One does not need to be Halachically Jewish to be a citizen. The only ramification of conversion is for marriage. The state may decide to secularize marriage but they will be converted to State of Israel Jews which will be a separate class.

By the way, why is it called the "Conversion Authority" if it has no authority?

Bielski warned at the meeting that "the [overly] stringent conversion process could delay the decision of potential olim to come to Israel."

Comment: Hasn't yet. Also, if they aren't Jewish, why do we want them? (I know the answer, to give the waning Left more voter power).

Only a government coalition without haredim could enact the necessary reform to the conversion process, Herzog said.

Comment: Thank goodness he's outgoing.
To sum up, what these three stooges are trying to do is to legislate conversions and force the Rabbinate to accept non-Halachic conversions. This is as effective as legislating that a pig chews it's cud. It won't happen no matter who is in the coalition.
If you want to eat chazer, go eat chazer. If you force the Rabbinate to put a hechsher on chazer, nothing will change. Those who don't eat chazer won't eat it with a hechsher and those who will eat it, don't need a hechsher.

A conversion court judge who preferred to remain anonymous responded to the criticism by noting that the vast majority of his peers were religious-Zionist, not haredi.
"But I guess that from their [the officials'] point of view anyone who is Orthodox is automatically haredi," he said.

Comment: Couldn't agree more. and the upshot of what he is saying is that doing away with "hareidi" standards is just a more PC way of saying doing away with "Orthodox" standards.

"It just goes to show that they do not appreciate the differences of approach between religious-Zionist rabbis and haredim."

He did, however, question "why Rabbi Amar appointed 10 new conversion judges, most of whom are haredim.

Comment: Doesn't this mean that some of them aren't? And if the vast majority are religious Zionist what is he worried about?

The chief rabbi has to decide whether he has a lenient or a stringent approach to conversions."

Comment: I think he has.

Also on Wednesday, Kadima's candidate for prime minister Tzipi Livni told the thousands of Americans and Canadians in Jerusalem for the General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities that rabbis should not determine the Jewish nature of the state.
"A Jewish state is not a monopoly of rabbis," she said.

Comment: Maybe so, but I would imagine that a Jewish state should be a monopoly of Jews. I am not sure it is even that.

"It's what each and everyone feels inside."

Comment: In other words, it's each man for himself with no unifying criteria. This certainly sums up Kadima in a nutshell. I heard people cheered at this statement. I am not sure if they knew exactly what they were cheering.

"It's not about learning Hebrew or about joining the army, it's about Jewish tradition, Jewish history," Livni said.

Comment: Now she's talking like a chareidi...

"We need to keep the nature, the character of the State of Israel as a Jewish state because this is - excuse me for using the French - the raison d'ĂȘtre of the State of Israel."

Comment: And she hopes to accomplish this by showing Shas who's boss and shunning the haredim and importing as many goyim as possible and calling them Jewish so she can redefine "Jewish tradition" and "Jewish history" as "learning Hebrew" and "joining the army".
In any case, she is clearly talking out of both sides of her mouth which is - excuse me for using the French - quite gauche.

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