Global, Identity, Israel, Politics, Religion

Converts? Not really…..

Thought your overseas conversion would serve to get you into Israel? Hah! Turns out the Interior Ministry is rarin’ at the bit to kick yer tushie back to galus. And it doesn’t even matter exactly which movement you cotton to… yes, apparently even some Orthodox converts will no longer qualify.
According to the JPost, this past Monday distributed a preliminary draft of new citizenship criteria. The new rules would no longer grant citizenship to converts from abroad, instead,

the convert would be asked to fulfill requirements that include: a minimum of nine months in a preparatory course in Judaism; proof of participation in the activities of a Jewish community abroad for at least nine months after conversion; and residing in the Jewish community that performs the conversion for at least three months prior to conversion.
In addition, converts who converted abroad and apply for Israeli citizenship would face rejection for a number of reasons: The convert applied previously, before conversion, for Israeli citizenship and was rejected; the convert stayed in Israel illegally for a period of at least six months; the convert has relatives in Israel [who he or she wishes to join]; and the convert applied for citizenship immediately after converting and family members, who did not convert, want to come too.

So, if you have Jewish relatives, and you want to join them, your conversion is automatically suspect. Nice. Got relatives who aren’t Jewish who want to come? Conversion doesn’t count. Sweet!
The Ministry claims this is to “prevent exploitation of the conversion process to obtain Israeli citizenship.”
As one rabbi stated, there are some obvious problems with this new set of restrictions, first,

the Interior Ministry has no right to be involved in determining the length of time it is necessary to prepare for a conversion. There is nothing in the law, neither Jewish nor civil, stating a minimum period of time.
“Second, it is unfair to disqualify a convert from citizenship simply because a previous request for citizenship was rejected or because he or she has relatives in Israel.

Then, as the article itself says, this new set of regulations seems to be trying to do an end run around the Supreme Court’s ruling that the ministry may not set criteria defining a religious act such as conversion; if this isn’t an attempt to do just that, I’ll eat my fuzzy purple Borsalino.
This whole thing is disgraceful. Mishpat echad yihiyeh lachem. yeah, right.
xp Kol Ra’ash Gadol

5 thoughts on “Converts? Not really…..

  1. If the religious act didn’t have so many financial and political ramifications, and was dependant on cronies employed by the government, then maybe the ministry of Interior wouldn’t interfere.

  2. The article also talked to an orthodox rabbi who rightly stated that this goes against the Jewish view of converts. This is a political solution to something that is too wrapped in religion to be dealt with this way. I would hope an American Orthodox Rabbi wouldn’t be so careless with a conversion.
    Speaking of boneheaded moves when it comes to dealing with Jewish immigrants, what ever happened to the Persian Jew whose Musilim wife was denied entry? Here’s the original article I read quite a while ago:

  3. This is ridiculous. If they want to define Jewishness as something you can’t convert to, then they should follow India’s ‘person of Indian origin’ example, hand out semi-citizenship cards to Jews worldwide and scrap the law of return.
    But if they want a law that lets in all Jews, how dare they fiddle with the religious definition?

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