April 5, 2014
OF SNEECHES AND STAR BELLY SNEECHES:
Israeli Jews Who Aren't Jewish in Eyes of Rabbis Face Kafkaesque Conversion Plight : Immigrants Make Aliyah But Rejected by Rabbinate (Nathan Jeffay, April 04, 2014, Forward)
They live as part of Jewish society in the Jewish state, but the state itself does not consider them Jewish.For Israel, some 330,000 immigrants, mostly from the former Soviet Union, represent a big assimilation problem and a big political problem, made worse by the fact that the only solution is seen as a religious one. And the remedy lies exclusively in the hands of the country's state-sponsored Orthodox rabbis, who, under Israeli civil law, have sole authority to determine the Jewish status of the state's citizens.Now, the latest effort to address this problem has collapsed, as the Orthodox political party that was key to reform on many other fronts has balked. The religious-Zionist Jewish Home party, a member of the current government coalition, supported recent legislation to draft Haredim, or ultra-Orthodox Jews, for the first time; approved a liberalizing overhaul of marriage procedures, and created a modest dedicated space at the Western Wall for non-Orthodox prayer.Yet the same party backing these religious reforms -- the most progressive passed by any recent Israeli government -- appears to have sabotaged a bill to help would-be converts.That promises to leave the large number of Russian immigrants in Israel who are not considered Jewish under Orthodox religious law in limbo.
Posted by Orrin Judd at April 5, 2014 7:24 AM