Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Israeli Taliban strikes again.

This article is worth posting here, because this issue is an important one for the future of American Judaism. Basically, what this means is that the Ultra-Orthodox Israeli Rabbinate has decided to declare war on American Judaism.

Last update - 16:47 17/10/2007
Chief Rabbi Amar to demand stricter conversions during U.S. visit
By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz Correspondent

Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar is expected to demand stricter criteria for conversions to Judaism, during a visit to the United States this week.

Amar is visiting the U.S. in order to approve the appointment of religious court judges (dayanim) to the conversion courts of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA).

The agreement reached between the RCA and Amar gives the Israeli Chief Rabbinate practical control over the conversion process in U.S. It will also create new problems for those wishing to convert to Judaism there, similar to the kind that exists today in Israel.
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For years, the religious councils in Israel accepted conversions performed by rabbis of the RCA, the largest body of Orthodox rabbis in North America. But in recent years, marriage registrars in local religious councils here have refused to recognize conversions by the RCA, and refused to allow those converted to marry in Israel. This new policy was dictated by Amar, who also provided the councils with a limited list of American rabbis who were the only ones authorized to conduct acceptable conversions.

Amar is actually considered to be more lenient in conversion matters in Israel, but he is under strong pressure from ultra-Orthodox rabbis who want to severly restrict the number of conversions, and who are demanding that all converts keep a strict Orthodox lifestyle.

The ultra-Orthodox rabbis object to the RCA in the U.S., which is identified more with the Modern Orthodox community, and have even set up a rival organization, Netzah Mishpahat Yisrael, to provide stricter conversions. The new group is trying to achieve full control of the conversion process in both the U.S. and Israel. As a result, Amar gave the RCA a list of demands in order for their conversions to be recognized in Israel.

Among other things, Amar demanded to end the common method of conversion in the U.S. whereby local rabbis were allowed to do conversions in their cities. Instead, Amar is demanding that only special conversion courts undertake conversions, and that he approve the members of these courts.

These demands were a source of controversy within the RCA, and a number of members even threatened to secede from the council and set up a separate organization. However, in the end they gave in and agreed to Amar's demands, since a lack of recognition of RCA conversions by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate would seriously harm the RCA's standing and cause potential converts to go elsewhere.

The new conversion courts will potentially force converts in the U.S. to travel long distances in order to be converted by an approved conversion court, which will demand that candidates keep a strict Orthodox way of life, without knowing them or their personal history.

"The rabbi went to meet the religious judges and check the courts," Amar's office said. "They were not promised anything, and they did not promise us anything. In the meantime, the Rabbinate is continuing to recognize conversions by the rabbis it recognized in the past."

Rabbi Basil Herring, the executive vice president of the RCA, said in response: "We are pleased to host Rabbi Amar on his visit to New York and Chicago. We are discussing a number of important matters with him, including the issue of conversion."

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This is a volley in a war whose ultimate goal is to eliminate Reform, Conservative, Modern Orthodox, Reconstructionist, and Secular Judaism from the map. It is a step a quest to uphold a "racial purity" which is imaginary and destructive. It is a no-holds barred statement that the Rabbinate does not recognize people's basic human right to marry, have children and to have freedom of religion.

It proves to intelligent people that the only difference between the Rabbinate and the Taliban is their costumes. They are 100% alike in all other respects.

These same Rabbis will, of course, be amazed and astonished when American Jew's willingness to send them money and support starts disappearing, class. They will be shocked - shocked, I tell you - that modern educated people aren't interested in being treated like slaves, only allowed to be considered "breeding stock" if their masters approve. Nor do they care to have their religion dictated to them by racists and bigots.

I hope that the next time you get a charitable appeal from a cheredi organization, that you will think twice about sending them money, class. If their goals are so right and good, let God give them money. We shouldn't.

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