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Wednesday, June 04, 2014 

Conversion bill should be advanced if we're to do justice and honor for biblical Ruth

Two articles of interest here. One is rabbi David Stav's argument on Israel's very own modern day problem of assimilation:
Rabbi David Stav, chairman of the Tzohar national-religious rabbinical association, has warned of the impending threat to the Jewish people of intermarriage and assimilation in Israel because of state and rabbinic failures on conversion policy.

Speaking with The Jerusalem Post ahead of Shavuot, the festival on which the Biblical account of Ruth and her decision to join the Jewish people is read in synagogues, Stav made an impassioned call for the political and rabbinic leadership in Israel to take responsibility for the problem. [...]

A bill currently before the Knesset proposes to decentralize the conversion process, by allowing municipal chief rabbis to establish their own conversion courts away from the four conversion courts of the Chief Rabbinate.

The bill was proposed by MK Elazar Stern (Hatnua) but drafted in conjunction with Tzohar as well as other parties, such as the ITIM religious services organization.

But, it was opposed by the Chief Rabbinate because it does not wish to lose control over the conversion process and questions the qualifications of city rabbis to conduct conversions.

Stav rebuffed such questions, saying the exams taken by anyone who gained the qualification to serve as a municipal chief rabbi include the testing on the laws of conversion. [...]

The conversion bill in its current format also includes a requirement for any municipal chief rabbis setting up a conversion court to take an additional test on the laws of conversion.

And the rabbi also rejected arguments made in some quarters, including by Chief Rabbi David Lau and Deputy Religious Services Minister Eli Ben-Dahan, that the problem is not the conversion system but the lack of conversion applicants.

Stav said the conversion system is unhelpful and unwelcoming, and puts many people off.
Exactly. I'd even read about a TV performer who wanted to convert (via Emes Ve-Emunah), but the rabbinate insisted give up her career as a condition. Which is utterly stupid, and that's not the only bizarre thing they've done: once, they even opposed nurses as a career because it would require night shift! IMO, it's all part of the Haredi movement's quest for social dictation that everything be done solely according to their view.

Another take on the subject comes from rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who says that the Jewish community should be seeking converts to the religion. And he's right, for the most part, it hasn't, and that's surely the greatest mistake. Advocates of Judaism certainly shouldn't make the preconditions something that limit career opportunities for men and women, nor should they concern themselves with how a person dresses per se.

And maybe the chief rabbinate should be closed down in the end, since that way, it'll help cut down on the Haredi world's quest for a monopoly over who's a Judaist.

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