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Thursday, November 06, 2014 

New reforms for conversions approved, but Haredis detest it

The government made special approvals for conversion courts for converts to Judaism that could help new converts. Unfortunately, the Haredi movements who don't support Israel convincingly are the very ones to oppose it:
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Rabbi of Efrat in Gush Etzion and founder of Ohr Torah Stone, strongly criticized hareidi Knesset members on Tuesday for their stance on the government's conversion reforms.

In an interview with Galei Yisrael radio, Rabbi Riskin defended the proposed government decision regarding conversion which would remove Chief Rabbinate supervision of the conversion process, and criticized its opponents.

"I do not understand the whole issue. Yes, I think there is a (Torah) commandment of 'you shall love the convert.' Yes, I think that the Chief Rabbinate until now did not know what it is to get someone who wants to convert treated properly, with love and care," he fired. "How dare they say that my conversions were not done according to Jewish Law?"

In response the interviewer, attorney Dov Halberthal - who is himself hareidi - said, "They say it's an issue of love replacing halakha (Jewish law)."

Rabbi Riskin replied, "It's not 'instead of halakha.' The halakha itself talks about love. Don't you know a very simple mishna (Talmudic tract): 'be disciples of Aharon, loving peace and pursuing peace?' Love people and bring them closer to Torah through love."

Halberthal continued to respond, claiming that applies to "Jewish people and not the Gentiles," but Rabbi Riskin retorted: "there is no place in where it says that 'people' means 'Jews.' It means 'human beings' - period."

Halberthal then presented the position of many in the hareidi world that "neither the halakha nor the Jews want converts," apparently interpreting the Jewish prerogative to warn converts against the hardships of being a Jew as meaning Judaism opposes conversion entirely - a sentiment to which Rabbi Riskin responded harshly.

"That is against the halakhic tradition! I'll tell you, in my opinion the hareidim are the biggest 'Reformers', in many many things, including opposition enlistment into the army because 'there is nothing but Talmud (study)," he said, in a dig at hareidi opposition which has claimed those supporting the bill align with the Reform movement.
It's incredibly stupid to suggest only Reform want converts, especially at a time when Reform has dwindled. And IMO, converts shouldn't have to be put through too many hardships to qualify. Why not just what kind of food diet they should eat, which is easy enough? Certainly not how they should dress and what career they should work in, and I think that's what Riskin is arguing here. He's right to note the Haredi opposition to army service and defending the country is one thing that makes them unworthy of deciding who may convert. It's time to do something to limit their influence, and it looks like that's beginning to happen.

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