So, some group of ultra orthodox rabbis decided to fire Israel’s main conversion rabbi and nullify all the conversions he’s done, according to an Associated Press story.
What a great idea.
We really have to clamp down on all that riff-raff hoping to join the faith. We can afford to turn people away, and, in fact, de-convert them, since there are so many Jews in the world, and we are so loved and appreciated internationally.
The problem, evidently, is that this group of sticklers found that one of the women this rabbi converted was, a decade later, no longer keeping shabbat the way they’d like her to. Therefore, her conversion didn’t take, or something.
And if that’s the case, their reasoning went, then none of the conversions performed by the rabbi who converted her, can be worth the parchment they’re written on.
So they nullified them.
We’re talking about some 40,000 people who went to all the trouble to study and learn and do all the rest of the stuff required of a convert. People who have been living Jewish lives in Israel for years, only to have that fundamental rug pulled out from under them.
The story says this episode has re-ignited the centuries-old debate among Jews as to who qualifies as a Jew — a completely ludicrous debate, if you ask me.
In my humble opinion, there are two types of Jews — both equally Jewish.
There are the ethnically Jewish — those who are descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. As far as I’m concerned, if one is born a Jew by having a Jewish parent, it’s like being born Italian or Greek, Russian or whathaveyou. It’s your ethnicity and can’t be changed no matter what you do or don’t do. Therefore, again in my opinion, there can be such a thing as a Christian Jew or a Hindu Jew or a Jewish atheist.
And I think, though I realize that tradition holds one’s Jewishness is passed on only by the mother, we should rethink this, and allow Jewishness to pass from either parent.
Since the reason for the mother rule was to ensure parentage, modern DNA testing eliminates that need.
Then there are the religious Jews, and they can be either ethnically Jewish or converts. Converts can become un-Jews, by ceasing to practice, because, for them, it’s a religion, only. Or, maybe not only, but mostly or first.
But, it seems to me no good purpose is served by trying to make being Jewish like trying to gain membership in a snooty, exclusive club.
Besides the technical difficulties these unfortunate de-converted folks face, it’s just not smart to alienate people who are sympathetic to Jews to the point of wanting to become Jewish. Especially in a world in which certain other religions are creating converts faster than McDonald’s turns out fries, and are teaching them to aspire to kill Jews.
In such a world, it seems to me that the more people there are trying to become Jewish, the fewer there are trying to kill Jews, and that works for me.
But not, evidently, for these ultra orthodox Israeli rabbis, who are operating under the well-known, time-tested adage that, “If you can’t beat ‘em, whatever you do, don’t let ‘em join you.”
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