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Friday, April 01, 2016 

Haredis should recognize private conversions and not make a fuss

If they cause any trouble over this high court ruling, which is not a bad one, they'll only be perpetuating a bad image they'd do better to avoid:
In the latest blow to the religious establishment, the High Court of Justice ruled on Thursday afternoon that non-Israeli nationals who convert in private Orthodox rabbinical courts conducted in Israel should be eligible for citizenship under the Law of Return.

The landmark ruling amounts to de facto of recognition of private Orthodox conversions, and the state will likely have to register such converts as Jewish in the population registry.

The decision seems sure to unleash a fresh political conflict, with the haredi leadership already declaring that it will seek to circumvent the ruling through legislation, a step which will further destabilize a government already rocking from disagreements on issues of religion and state.

Thursday’s ruling joins another recent High Court decision allowing non-Orthodox converts the use of public mikvaot, along with the government’s agreement with the non-Orthodox movements to create a pluralist prayer section at the Western Wall, as another blow to the Orthodox establishment’s dominance over religious life in the country.
I will say that, if longer qualification for citizenship is what they must wait for - specifically, a form that has nothing to do with religion - then maybe it is better to go that way. But apart from that, the Haredis should not be butting into private businesses, religious or otherwise. I do think it's hilarious that if the Haredis have no respect for Israeli nationalism and Zionism, they'd have such a problem with this. If they cause any problems with the coalition, that's wrong, and if they're planning anything, they'd better stop now. It only makes them look like selfish monsters, and I don't think that's what they want any sane person to think.
National-religious activists have for many years campaigned to make the state conversion system more accessible and effective, so as to increase conversion rates among the 300,000-strong community of immigrants to Israel from the former Soviet Union who are not Jewish according to Jewish law, Halacha, and thereby prevent the phenomenon of Jewish intermarriage with people who would otherwise be halachicly non-Jewish.

Last year, however, a group of senior rabbis from the sector gave up on this campaign and established a new, non-state Orthodox conversion system, Giyur Kahalacha, to increase conversion rates among the FSU immigrants.

In the wake of Thursday’s ruling, these activists proclaimed that the decision represented a precedent which would pave the way for state recognition of Giyur Kahalacha converts, who already number more than 150 people.
And they're doing the right thing. There may have been different sects and congregations in remote times, so it should not be any different today. If there can be different denominations of Protestant Christianity like Episcopelian and Presbytarian, then there can also be different denominations of Orthodox Judaism. The time has come to end the monopoly on Judaism that the Haredi society's been leading to.

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  • I'm Avi Green
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