Sunday, November 08, 2009

Chief Rabbinate to American Jews: you are NOT Jewish.

As we have seen, US converts have been given a hard time by the Israeli Rabbinate to prove they are "Jewish" by UO or Chereidi standards, which most are not. This blog and others have warned that the next step in their imperialistic civil war would be to deny Jewishness to anyone who was not born UO or Chereidi. Now, we see signs those steps are being taken by the Chief Rabbinate.

In this story, the woman grew up in Israel - her mother was an American who made aliyah to Israel. Immigrants to Israel have no guarantee that they or their children or grandchildren can marry, because there is no recognition of a basic human right to marry in Israel. The UO and Chereidi authorities are allowed to make rulings discriminating against other sects of Judaism, and the state does nothing to prevent this, in spite of the Declaration of Establishment of the State of Israel's supposed guarantee of Freedom of Religious Practice.

American Jews do not understand that just because that - for now - they can make aliyah under the Law of Return, that is NOT sufficient to give them civil rights in Israel. Most of them are going to be considered NOT JEWISH by the Israeli Rabbinate. They have no clue.

New York Times Online
March 2, 2008
How Do You Prove You’re a Jew?
[hat tip: Daas Torah]

One day last fall, a young Israeli woman named Sharon went with her fiancĂ© to the Tel Aviv Rabbinate to register to marry. They are not religious, but there is no civil marriage in Israel. The rabbinate, a government bureaucracy, has a monopoly on tying the knot between Jews. The last thing Sharon expected to be told that morning was that she would have to prove — before a rabbinic court, no less — that she was Jewish. It made as much sense as someone doubting she was Sharon, telling her that the name written in her blue government-issue ID card was irrelevant, asking her to prove that she was she...

...This stereotypical biography did not help her any more at the rabbinate than the line on her birth certificate listing her nationality as Jewish. Proving you are Jewish to Israel’s state rabbinate can be difficult, it turns out, especially if you came to Israel from the United States — or, as in Sharon’s case, if your mother did.

In recent years, the state’s Chief Rabbinate and its branches in each Israeli city have adopted an institutional attitude of skepticism toward the Jewish identity of those who enter its doors. And the type of proof that the rabbinate prefers is peculiarly unsuited to Jewish life in the United States. The Israeli government seeks the political and financial support of American Jewry. It welcomes American Jewish immigrants. Yet the rabbinate, one arm of the state, increasingly treats American Jews as doubtful cases: not Jewish until proved so...

...Now, as Sharon’s experience indicates, the status of Jews by birth is in question.

...Seth Farber is an American-born Orthodox rabbi whose organization — Itim, the Jewish Life Information Center — helps Israelis navigate the rabbinic bureaucracy. He explained to me recently that the rabbinate’s standards of proof are now stricter than ever, and stricter than most American Jews realize. Referring to the Jewish federations, the central communal and philanthropic organizations of American Jewry, he said, “Eighty percent of federation leaders probably wouldn’t be able to reach the bar.”

...Sharon’s mother was Jewish, so Sharon knew that she was, too. And yet it seemed impossible to provide evidence that would persuade the rabbinate.

Sharon left the office infuriated. Her mother was Jewish enough to leave affluent America for Israel; her brothers had fought for the Jewish state. Now, she felt, she was being told, “For that you’re good enough, but to be considered Jews for religious purposes you’re not.”

...At the court, Sharon told me, the clerk who opened her file told her to bring her mother’s birth certificate and her parents’ marriage certificate. “I said: ‘But my mother’s birth certificate doesn’t say “Jewish.” It’s from the United States. They don’t write that. And the marriage license — they had a civil wedding.’ ” After she waited hours to see a judge, he told Sharon to return with “any document that would testify to her mother’s Jewishness.” She asked a court official if a letter from a Conservative rabbi would solve the problem. Her mother has a cousin in Florida who is a rabbi, son of the uncle who originally sent Suzie to Israel. No, the official said, “that won’t help. It has to be someone Orthodox.”

And there's the rub - most Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Secular or Athiest Jews have not had any contact with the UO or Chereidi Rabbinate - nor have their parents.

...“When Sharon called me, she was crying,” Suzie told me. Her daughter said the court wanted testimony from an Orthodox rabbi who had known Suzie all her life. “Even if there was such a thing, he would be dead by now,” Suzie said. Lacking an official document labeling her a Jew and without a childhood connection to Orthodoxy, Suzie was again a typical American Jew.

...Ultra-Orthodox Jews increasingly question the Jewishness of those outside their own intensely religious communities.

And they are in charge of EVERYTHING regarding Jewish civil rights in Israel, NOT the secular government.

...Couples registering to marry were asked to bring two witnesses who could testify that the applicants were Jews under Orthodox law...Increasingly, rabbinate clerks sent anyone not born in Israel, or whose parents weren’t married in Israel, to a rabbinic court to prove that he or she was Jewish...The rabbinate’s expectations, however, are a poor fit with the United States. American Jews generally don’t have government papers testifying to their Jewishness. was becoming steadily less likely that an American Jew would be able to dig an Orthodox marriage contract out of her mother’s drawer. In the generation after World War II, most American Jews moved away from even a nominal connection to Orthodoxy. Today, young American-born Jews are likely to be two or three generations removed from any tie with Orthodoxy.

...Strikingly, the rabbinate’s doubts extend even to Orthodox rabbis in America. “They’re not familiar with them,” Friedman told me. “They say: ‘The rabbis in the United States, in England, aren’t the kind we know. Someone can define himself as an Orthodox rabbi, but really he’s Reform.’ ” A marriage registrar given a letter from an Orthodox rabbi abroad certifying that a person is Jewish is now expected to check with the office of Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, which maintains a list of diaspora clergy whose letters are to be trusted. The list is not publicly available. If the rabbi who wrote the letter is not on the list, the applicant is asked for other proof or referred to the rabbinic courts.

...It means “writing thousands of people, if not hundreds of thousands, out of the Jewish world.”

Which is, of course, the Israeli Rabbinate's intention. American Jews need to understand this clearly. To the Chief Rabbinate, they are not Jews and have no civil rights in Israel - and when the Rabbinate has their way completely (which the demographic and vote in the Knesset is creeping their way) Jews who are not UO or Chereidi won't even be able to make aliyah. They will be cut off from the Jewish people forever, because these power-mongering imperialists have been allowed to get away with appointing themselves as the arbiters of who is Jewish.


Religion and State in Israel said...

"...and the state does nothing to prevent this, in spite of the Constitution's supposed guarantee of Freedom of Religious Practice."

I believe you are referring to the "Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel" which states:

" will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture"

Israel has no formal Constitution; however the Basic Law of Human Dignity and Liberty states: "All persons are entitled to protection of their life, body and dignity."

For more on the issue of conversion in Israel, please visit: Religion and State in Israel and @religion_state on Twitter.

Ahavah Gayle said...


Of course, you are correct.