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Conversion in Israel: Russians vs. Rabbis

This past week the Israeli political party Yisrael Beiteinu once again tried to introduce legislation that would ease up the conversion process in Israel. The proposal, like all other such initiatives, will inevitably be shelved by the right wing religious establishment and their political proxies. Which means, roughly 300,000 Russian Jews will continue to be viewed as pariahs by Israel’s religious establishment. Or put another way, though 300,000 people are willing to serve in the army and give their lives for the Jewish people, these haredi and religious Zionist rabbis will not recognize them as Jews–go figure? So it’s come down to this: the Russians versus the Chief Rabbiniate.


It no longer amazes me how Israel allows its minority fundamentalist haredi population to determine the most pressing of identity issues. Neither am I surprised that the haredim do everything in their power to ensure that their narrow reading of Judaism trumps the pressing needs of world Jewry. All that is old news and can be explained by simple economic and political concerns. However, what does continue to surprise me are those in the Modern Orthodox community who still claim to believe in a concept of klal Yisrael (Jewish peoplehood), who have no nothing to gain by throwing their lot in with these religious fanatics, yet sit on sidelines while the haredim dictate the spiritual face of world Jewry.
In recent years there has been some push back on the part of a new generation of Modern Orthodox rabbis in Israel and abroad. The young and charismatic Rabbi Benny Lau critiqued his uncle Chief Rabbi Lau for not doing enough to change the chief rabbinate during his time in office. Others in the group Tzohar have withstood all kinds of threats by standing up to other extreme rulings issued by the chief rabbis.
For years now legislation like the type being proposed by Yisrael Beiteinu has been put on the table. But the Russians will loose to the Haredim if they dont get outside help. Ultimately, the only thing that will change the status quo will be an internal revolution on the part of orthodox rabbis who will have the guts to stand up for the Jewish people. Short of that, the religious tyranny will continue in the holy land.

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posted January 10, 2008 at 12:15 pm

Why can’t these Gentiles simply compare themselves to Uriah the Hittite or Orde Wingate or John Hagee, or similar Righteous Gentiles?

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posted January 10, 2008 at 12:44 pm

Well, the saving grace is fundamentally in survival. The diffusion and diaspora of ever expanding but not restrictive thoughts is the way. They should seek common grounds that unify them in spirit. Isn’t it the way that the new stemmed from the old or is it vice versa? lol

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Scott R.

posted January 10, 2008 at 6:17 pm

Why can’t these Gentiles simply compare themselves to Uriah the Hittite or Orde Wingate or John Hagee, or similar Righteous Gentiles?
Because the Russian Jews are already Jews.

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Doug from PA

posted January 10, 2008 at 10:41 pm

The whole idea of matrilineal descent is silly. In the Torah, it’s patrilineal descent. I say anyone with one Jewish parent who considers himself Jewish and who identifies with the Jewish people and does not practice some other religion is Jewish.

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Marian Neudel

posted January 11, 2008 at 12:32 am

“Why can’t these Gentiles simply compare themselves to Uriah the Hittite or Orde Wingate or John Hagee, or similar Righteous Gentiles?”
Well, back in Uriah’s day, nobody much minded his marrying a nice Jewish girl.

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posted January 25, 2008 at 11:10 am

Why are they Gentiles? If they’re Jews then they should be welcomed- why else would they make the Aliyah? If they ONLY wanted to get out of Russia- there are easier places to immigrate to! There is considerable history of problems with the chief Rabbinate of Israel ONLY recognizing “orthodox” conversions- if the Russian immigrants are Jewish by ANY official standard of world Jewry, then they should be allowed to make Isreal their homeland (and this has become the standard for immigration as well). The problem is about the minority of Israel’s rabbis controlling the fate of Jewish identity in Israel, and leading (whether they choose to or not) the world definition WITHIN Judaism of who is a “real” Jew- meanwhile Jews all over the world embrace their identities differently, AND in some places are persecuted regardless of whether or not the chief rabbinate of Israel considers them “real” Jews or not.

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Khamies Sabah Al-Dosari

posted June 7, 2008 at 9:47 am

هناك 366 آيه في القرآن تدعوا الى كراهية اليهود والتشهير بهم ووصفهم بأبشع الأوصاف والتحريض ضدهم ويصل الأمر الى السب واللعن والضرب والأهانه والقتل..اضافة الى الأحاديث ومنها الحديث الشرير بأن الحجروالشجر يقولان يا مسلم خلفي يهودي مختبأ تعال واقتله لتدخل الجنه.
كل هذه الأشارات الشريره ضد اليهود موجوده في الكتب الدراسيه وينشأ عليها اجيال على الكراهية والبغض والحقد بسبب ذلك التعليم التحريضي وضد اليهود بالذات حتى لو كانوا مواطنين وللتأكد من ذلك يجب زيارة موقع جناب القمص الورع الشيخ زكريا بطرس
وعلى هذا الأساس يجب ابلاغ الرئيس جورج دبليو بوش ليقوم بالأجراءات اللازمه بشطب تلك الآيات والأحاديث الشريره وازالة كل ما يسيء الى اليهود في كافة مناهج التعليم
There is no 366 in the Koran calling for hatred of Jews and vilifying them and described ugliest descriptions and incitement against them and comes to insults, Cussing and beatings, humiliation and murder .. in addition to their chatter and talk evil Ahadjrwalcjr tell you that my successor Muslim Jew Mokhtba Come and murder for the intervention of Paradise.
All these references evil against Jews found in textbooks and created by generations of hatred and animosity and hatred because of that education provocation against the Jews even if they own citizens and to verify that he must visit the site Roko done a devout Sheikh Zakaria Botros:
On this basis must inform President George W. Bush for the actions necessary to write off those verses and Hadiths evil and remove everything that harms the Jews in all school curricula
Khamies Sabah Al-Dosari
KingDom Of Bahrain

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