Sunday, March 14, 2010

Orthodox religious school or else.

Recently I posted a link to a letter written by a Jewish woman whose husband was a convert. She complained in her letter that her husband's bet din made it a requirement that they send their children to religious school whether or not they could afford it. The implication was that if he did not live up to this agreement, his conversion would be considered invalid. That same requirement is being forced on people by the Israeli Rabbinate regarding adopted children. These two steps are moves toward the Chief Rabbinate's ultimate goal: to require children of people who were already born Jewish to submit to an ultra-orthodox lifestyle, including forced chereidi education, or have their status as Jews annulled. The other sects of Judaism and secular Jews complain, but to no avail. The Chief Rabbinate has complete power and is not going to give non-UO Jews any slack.

Ha'aretz Online
Last update - 09:56 14/12/2009
Want your adopted son to become Jewish? Act Orthodox
By Orly Vilnai

...When they returned to Israel, they immediately began the process of having the baby converted to Judaism. They turned to the rabbinic court in Ashkelon, the seat of the head of the conversion administration, Rabbi Yosef Avior. The rabbi told them that if they wanted to have the baby converted, they would have to become observant Jews. The couple told Avior that they live a secular lifestyle but that they observe commandments: Yaron puts on phylacteries every morning and Nira observes the basic commandments for women. Nira and Yaron pledged in writing at the meeting that they would raise little Yair in the same way. It took a while, but at the age of 17 months, Yair underwent circumcision with the approval of the conversion administration.

When Yair got older, the couple decided to adopt another child. They raised the money, NIS 160,000, from family and friends and flew to Belarus again. When they returned to Israel with Yair's little brother, Dan, once again they went to see Rabbi Avior. This time, he refused. "I do not recall that the older brother goes to a religious school," he said, adding that until that happened, he would not covert the baby. It turns out that Nira and Yaron are not alone. The rabbinate in Israel requires adopted children to go to Orthodox schools...

...Nira went back to the rabbi and said she could not send him to an Orthodox school after all. The rabbi then said that if she did not, he would revoke Yair's Jewish status. He maintained his refusal to convert Dan. "The rabbis told me, 'at home you can pray to a statue and eat pork; the child has to go to a religious school," Nira said.

..."This is clearly religious coercion," Yaron says. "I am no less good a Jew than a religious person. We went to the army, we observe commandments, we work hard and we went through hell until we received these children. Why are they doing this to us? Who are they to say whether we are Jewish enough?"

His wife, Nira, says, "I asked Avior why he was doing this to me. He answered, 'it's not me, it's halakha [Jewish law].'

Of course, it's not halacha, it's a chumra - a stringency. The Jews who first settled in America until very recently all sent their kids to public school or to high-grade secular private schools and nobody accused them of being not Jewish, even if they were converts or adopted. They went to Talmud Torah classes in the afternoons and "sunday schools." Now private chereidi dayschool education is being forced on people as a condition of being considered Jewish by the Chief Rabbinate. It is a bold move to attempt to take complete control of the department of education away from the Israeli government, for one thing. For another it is an attempt to force more people to attend American private ultra-orthodox schools to hopefully provide more income to them. But mostly it is a step toward re-defining a "Jew" as someone who submits to chereidi/UO requirements.

This will not stop at converts and adoptions - it is simply another step on the road to declaring all non-uo sects of Judaism to be invalid. This, with the recent move to refuse citizenship to t hose who wish to make aliyah but were not converted by an "approved" (read: ultra-orthodox) bet din, reveals their intentions plainly. It's easy to pick on adoptions and converts because they aren't "really" Jews to begin with - and for the Chief Rabbinate, it will also be easy to act against American Jews in general because most of us are not UO or Chereidi, and therefore are also not "really" Jews. They do not believe in and intend to crush any supposed freedom of religious practice both in Israel and the Diaspora.

They make no secret of this, class. We should believe what they say - it's NOT just for the benefit of a few right-wings nuts that they say these things. This is their normative teaching. If you're not UO/Chereidi, then you're not Jewish. If you don't believe this is their true position, then just look at the comments posted to this article and the one we discussed a few days ago. It's very clear. The comments come from two sides - the first side says that you're "only" Jewish if you accept the commandments (their UO version, of course) and the other side that points out how idiotic and corrupt the whole UO establishment is on the matter. Some examples:

Title: #1 and #2, you don`t get it.
Name: Viejo
City: Jerusalem State: Israel
They want to have a Jewish life. This doesn`t mean orthodox life. The orthodox rabbis in Israel have a shameful monopoly on conversion. It`s easy in Montreal or N.Y. to go to a conservative rabbi and convert, but in Israel that`s not possible. The big problem is not that the orthodox maintain a high profile for conversion, but that with political coercion they don`t permit legal development of other types of jewishness.

Title: It is far too demanding
Name: joe
City: State:
For many and this is reason that those of Jewish ancestry do not even go there. If you want to live in a traditional manner, but not orthodox, conversion it is an ordeal and you have to lie or forget it, many choose to forget it, be true to themselves and are lost to the "Jewish" fold even though they live and act as Jews and have Jewish ancestors, fathers, grandparents. The demands of the orthodox are unfair to those- I understand conversion for a non Jew should be about religious belief and commitment but for those who are part of Israel yet not, it is a sad thing. I have heard and seen enough stories to be frustrated and saddened for them.

Title: This issue really tugs at ones heart, but...
Name: a voice
City: State:
...when it comes to Jewish issues, it is not the knesset or a non-religious minister who deems what a Jew is and is not. the religious rabbis who follow halacha do. There is a simple chain that requires certain commitments which if a family cannot make, then they cannot bring new entries into the system. It has far reaching affects on our future, but some parents only experience the `today`. Perhaps these parents wanting to adopt should read the writing on the wall and in the scroll- and try something more beneficial that tv, designer clothes,& materialism. to all those who criticize halacha, pretending to be dumb and letting anything happen for momentary happiness is shortchanging Jewry`s mission in this world from Sinai to today. Your standards may have slipped over the last 50-100 years, but Jewry will be maintained by those who are traditional (orthodox) and who will safeguard the ORIGINAL BRIS AT SINAI.

Title: religious coercion...
Name: observer
City: State:
...does not mean deciding who is jewish - ie obliged to lead a committed jewish life - or who may receive rabbinic approval for the kashrut of his shop. Coercion means forcing people to do things they are not obliged to do. If you want to join my football club, you`d jolly well better learn to play football. I don`t care how good you are at basketball. If the state wants to invent some sort of `israeli-ness` to pander to those who serve in the army and pay taxes, go ahead and do it. In fact they already have: it`s called an israeli.

Title: 3 & 8. What`s so special about being a Jew?
Name: Michael
City: UK State:
Quote: "You are Jewish if your mother is Jewish, whether or not you are atheist. You can also convert according to Jewish law, which means accepting all the commandments, something unlikely to happen if you are in public school. He can even convert when he is older. This couple can lovingly and generously adopt a non-Jewish kid and raise him as a non-Jew."

Doesn`t that seem a bit odd to you Judith? If you`re born a Jew, it doesn`t matter what you believe or do, you`re still a Jew. But if you want to convert you have to be like a super-religious Jew in observing every available commandment. Why make it so difficult to become a Jew? What`s so special about it? Most religions love converts. What`s Judaism afraid of? Diluting the Jewish bloodline? Is it all about race really?

Title: Ignorant Rabbis
Name: Chaim Ben Kahan
City: Efrat State: Israel
All the couple had to go was offer more money to the Rabbi and the Rabbi would do the conversion as this is how the religious authorities work in Israel and abroad. You want kashrut, Pay, you want a get, pay, and you will pay and pay more as long as they can milk you. They find all kind of reasons and excuses as to make obstacles so they can line their pockets. These are Rabbis? and to make it like all secular Jews eat pork at home and pray to idles is not only ignorant but belittling. Why dress like your a Pole from the 17th century and what does that have to do with the torah or Judaism? Please this Rabbi has no right to convert anyone and only Hashem can truly say or who is a Jew or not.

Title: Some rabbis do not care ...
Name: Anne
City: State: Israel
...what has been written in the Declaration of the Independence of Israel and even less, what the Declaration of the Human Rights (article 2) says ..." will quarantee the freedom of conscience,worship,education and culture and willdedict itself to the principles of the charter of UN.

Title: It seemed like a good idea 60 years ago
Name: Mark Lincoln
City: Houston State: Texas
Giving the Orthodox a say in matters religious made them happy and kept them from getting in the way of the problems of waging the War of Independence and building a nation. The problem no one could foresee over half a century ago was that while religious extremism was fading then, it is prospering now.

Title: absurd!
City: tel aviv State: ISRAEL
The overwhelming population of jews in israel and abroad are not Orthodox or Secular!! they do not live a superstitious, backward lifestyle that cultish Haredim maintain! This couple is 100% Jewish and their first adopted son is now 100% jewish- why can`t they convert their newly adopted child?! The rabbinical courts here should be disenfranchised and separation of religion and state needs to happen NOW! before these cultists become even more influential!!
And why can`t a Jew go to a public school in ISRAEL and maintain even superstitious Orthodox observance? I knew Ortho Jews in NY public schools surrounded by non-Jews who were just fine!!

Title: Amazing and deja vu
Name: becoming cynical
City: State:
How déja vu! I adopted 2 children, in my country there is no Mikva for converted so had a choice to try to convert my kids in Israel or France. it actually took me 5 years to do it. And Rav Avior had the same reactions as written in this article. I come from a a religious/traditional background, jewish school, Kosher home etc...and the kids go to a secular jewish school: his reactions were:
1. The school is not religious
2. You`re not religious
3. They will not be religious
4. We will not give you the conversion
The I went to Paris, and the Rabbis there asked me to convert too!!!! It made me laugh! Then friends told me , if you pay this amount or that amount , in Israel, Marocco will get conversion but, I always refused to go that road, I kept on going back to Avior for 4 years after till out of the blues got a call and was told I could have the kids converted. It took 3 minutes to do it but since then am a complete cynical on the subject.It`s just disgusting but very real.

Title: 19
Name: zionist forever
City: State:
The fact that you are not orthodox does not make the heredim backward because they believe something different to you. All conversion in Israel the law says must be in a halachic conversion ( based on Torah rules not the more modern attitudes to religion like reform)...

The problem with those who are pointing out how corrupt the process is and how much people's right are trampled on is that they have no voice and no authority. The Chief Rabbinate knows their opinions and does not care - they have the demographic and the political power to force their sect of Judaism on everyone else, both in Israel and in the Diaspora, and they intend to do just that.


SJ said...

I'll take the or else. XD

Ahavah Gayle said...

I think most people will take the "or else." It's just not worth bankrupting themselves over.

Hope you're doing well. Shalom.