Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Another casualty in the Jewish Civil War.

Those who think that the Israeli Chief Rabbinate has nothing to do with Judaism for US born Jews need to read this and think again.

By Smadar Shir • Yediot Achronot
April 30th 2010
Hat tip: Failed Messiah.

..."Seven years ago, I [Jessica Fishman] arrived here as a Jewish and Zionist woman," she says teary eyed while packing her suitcases. "Now I am leaving Israel because in the eyes of the Chief Rabbinate I am not a Jewish woman, and when I myself am already not so sure I am so Zionist."

...[Her mother laments] "I chose, I converted, I immersed myself in a mikvah. Today for the first time in my life, I do not regret this, but I am certainly sorry. I never wanted my conversion to destroy their lives."

...Two years ago [Jessica] met M, who almost became her husband....When we started to talk about marriage I told him that my mother was a reform convert, which the orthodox rabbinate in Israel did not accept. This I learned in the army. M said he did not want our children to suffer and asked me to convert. I was opposed. I claimed "Why should I convert? Am I not Jewish? After all I contributed more to the country than many who wear the kipa who refuse to serve in the IDF...

...According to her, M's mother used to say: "I love Jessica as if she is my daughter, but your children will suffer, they will not permit them to get married in Israel," And she applied indirect pressure. In the final analysis Jessica phoned her parents and asked them to try to obtain a certificate of validity for her mother's conversion. And then the blow struck.

Rabbi (advocate) Uri Regev, director of Hadush (Freedom, Religion, Equality) stated unequivocally: "Israelis born in Israel who want to get married go to the Religious Council, bring two witnesses who verify they are Jewish and single and the marriage is registered. When new immigrants want to get married, they are sent to Rabbinical court to verify their validity for marriage, and it demands that an orthodox rabbi from the place they live will verify that the party making the request is Jewish and single."

Suzie Fishman [Jessica's mom] relates: "One day we received a phone call from an orthodox Rabbi who asked to know the names of my parents, and I understood that he does not realize I am a convert. So I told him that since the conversion I am called Shulamit daughter of Avraham. At that moment he stopped talking to me. My husband raised the telephone receiver in the next room, and the Rabbi continued talking but only to him. The orthodox Rabbi claimed that Reform conversion isn't valid and that Jessica is not a Jewish woman because the Jewish spirit was not in my womb when she was conceived. I broke out weeping. This was the first time that someone dared state to me that I who chose to be Jewish, am not Jewish."

...[Jessica's native born Jewish] father said that he felt he was raped. He wept and said Jessica I am so sorry we have not managed to help you get out of this trap."

In November Jessica said goodbye to her mate (it was no longer pleasant between us. The arguments killed the love") And she decided to leave Israel. "I felt that the country betrayed me, humiliated me and spit in my face."

...Jessica's story is a sad human saga, strong and powerful, that exemplifies the growing crisis between Israel and Jewish leadership in the US, "says Rabbi (advocate) Uri Regev. According to him the thing that causes the crisis is the proposed law on conversion from MK David Rotam from Israel Beiteinu, chairman of the Knesset constitutional committee. "His proposed law is aimed, as it were, to increase the number of orthodox converts in Israel, but in fact it grants for the first time to the chief rabbinate the authority over conversion in Israel, and it is liable to cause Reform and Conservative converts ˆ who are the decisive majority of converts in the US ˆ not to be recognized as Jews even for the purpose of the Right of Return," Regev cautions.

[A proposed law would allow her to go through a quick conversion, if it passes, but] Jessica Fishman does not want to go through another conversion, either long or short. According to her she is Jewish.

...Jessica is leaving and is very angry about it especially toward the rabbinical establishment. "This is not Jewish behavior, this is antisemitic behavior that causes discrimination. Everyone thinks that the proposed new law relates to Russians and foreign workers, and they don't understand the extent to which it is likely to influence people like me, Americans who came to Israel out of Judaism, Zionism and idealism. I came to Israel because I thought it is a country where everyone is Jewish, but this beautiful dream was shattered. It is finished. My case is already lost, but I agreed to tell my story in the hope that it will raise public consciousness about the matter. I intend to build a new life in the United States, and I have no doubt that I will only marry a Jewish man. What will happen when my children want to immigrate to Israel and get married to Jews here?

They will be told they are not Jewish, because demographically, the Chereidi are poised to have complete control over marriage, divorce, and aliyah - and they have no intention of respecting the rights of other sects of Jews. American Jews think that Israel is a country like America - but it is not. There is no right to both citizenship and freedom of religious practice for those born abroad. Kids born to American Jews anywhere in the world can come to the US and be accepted as Jews. Kids born in the US who go to Israel are not being accepted unless they can prove their mother was Observant Orthodox - which the VAST majority of Reform, Conservative, Unaffiliated and Secular Jews simply CANNOT do.

Is that clear to everyone? Without a letter from their approved list of Orthodox Rabbis, no American born Jew is now considered Jewish in Israel by the Chief Rabbinate.

What to do about this? Complain loudly to the secular government, not the Chief Rabbinate (because he doesn't give a rat's rear end about you). And tell them plainly that you intend to put your money where your mouth is - no Israel Bonds, no investing in Israeli companies, no charitable support for Israel...NOTHING until they pass a law making it impossible for the Chereidi to remove your right to be considered Jewish and to make aliyah and to marry and enjoy all the rights of citizenship as a Jew in Israel.

But, if you don't care, then do nothing. Let the Ultra-Orthodox take over aliyah the same way they have already taken over marriage and other civil rights in Israel. And then watch yourself be called not Jewish and be excluded forever.

Pick one.

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