Converts in the diaspora are still having trouble getting citizenship in Israel. We’ve been seeing this going on for years, of course, but every time the soup simmers down, someone throws in a new bone and turns up the flame.
Seems that the Interior Ministry has changed the rules again. Of course, the new rules haven’t actually been approved, but that hasn’t stopped the normally rule-bound Israelis (can you detect the sarcasm? Okay) from employing them.
Critics say the new rules are too stringent and are disenfranchising Diaspora Jewish communities that approve the conversions, ultimately making it harder than ever for converts from the Diaspora to immigrate to Israel. Supporters say the new rules are meant to separate genuine converts from those interested in little more than a quick path to Israeli citizenship.
Yes, of course. It has nothing to do with the battle between certain of the power-holding Orthodox and everyone else.
According to the new regulations — they have not been approved officially but already are being employed, according to advocates who deal with converts — converts to Judaism from the Diaspora must remain for at least nine months before and after their conversions in the community where they converted before they can immigrate to Israel.
The rules also mandate 350 hours of classes and hands-on practice for converts in the Diaspora (modeled on standards set in Israel for its official conversion institute) and bar any convert who has a non-Jewish relative living in Israel and anyone whose stay in Israel was previously deemed illegal for any period of time.
My favorite part is that if you have a non-Jewish relative living in Israel you aren’t eligible to be Jewish. WTF? Yes, I’m aware that there are foreign workers living in Israel who might want to -God forbid- become Israeli. And we all know that OF COURSE there could only be ulterior motives.
Um, they DO realize that this is counter to halakhah, right?