Bein Adam Lchavero

Bein Adam Lchavairo is a blog dealing with interpersonal relations within the Jewish community and the interactions of the Jewish and Gentile worlds. We're new. Be gentle.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I'm Very Offended Right Now.

I'm breaking my rule about not using actual names for a moment to comment on a specific news story.

"Chief Rabbi for changing Law of Return

Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar has proposed amending the Law of Return so that converts to all three principal streams of Judaism - Reform, Conservative and Orthodox - would no longer be eligible for automatic Israeli citizenship.

Please read the whole article before you continue. I'll wait.


Are you as outraged as I am?

I'm not a Ger [convert]. I am, however, married to one. Several of my very good friends are converts as well. As such, I feel I have a horse in this race and every right to comment.

Let's go over the article a bit more, shall we?

"Over the last 10 years the concept of conversion has lost its religious meaning," the proposal reads. "It has become instead a means of immigration through which non-Jews seek automatic Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return without any intention of becoming a part of the Jewish people.

I'm sorry, but that's just wrong. I know six people who converted in the last decade, including my own wife. Not one of them, to my knowledge, had any intention of going on aliyah[Move to Israel]. They converted for intense, personal reasons, sometimes against family wishes and resulting in schisms between loved ones. To have their struggle spat upon, even with the best of intentions, is insulting as all get-out.

Although I'm not sure how "best" his intentions are. In my head, this sort of policy resonates with a "Keep Israel pure" mindset.

"This draft legislation proposes... that conversions - Orthodox, Conservative or Reform - will no longer give the convert an automatic right to citizenship. Rather, the convert will be allowed to naturalize in accordance with objective criteria of citizenship."

If getting citizenship is so simple and easy, then why not get rid of Right of Return completely? Right. Because it isn't.

I'm also a bit offended by the protestations in the article.

"Sadly, the Chief Rabbinate is prepared to harm basic Jewish values such as the prohibition to differentiate between a convert and a Jew at birth, in the name of protecting the Orthodox monopoly,"…" It's another example of the problems that flow from religious monopolies,"

Sorry guys, this isn't just about you. This is about Orthodox, Conservative and reform Converts. This proposal is bigoted across the spectrum.

Yeah that's right, I just called it bigoted. Because it is.

Why do I say that?

Because this policy greatest impact won't be on American or European converts. Shockingly, it's not always about us.

Rather, it is bigoted for the impact it will have on groups like the Lemba, Beta Israel, the Falash Mura, Bene Ephaim and other "lost" Jews. Jews who are suffering on foreign lands who need our help. All recognized as of Jewish descent, all granted right of return contingent on a token conversion.

I suspect that this policy's goal is nothing less than an effort to keep "poor" Jews out of Israel. It is a completely disgusting suggestion and not in keeping with the Torah in any way, shape, or form.

Even if such a goal is not the reason for the policy (and I want to give the benefit of the doubt that it isn't, I really do), that will still be the effect: stranding thousands of Jewish neshamas in dangerous lands.

I don't believe our people have fought and died for a homeland, a safe haven, only to slam that door in the faces of our brethren.

May we be zocheh that Rabbi Amar realize the impact his proposal would have on those less fortunate and retract it.