culture/multiculturalism · Hispanics/Latinos · Israel · Jews/Jewish/Judaism/Orthodox Judaism · language · race/racism

The Latest News in Conversion, Jewish Diversity and More!

I apologize for some of these articles being more than a week old. I’ve been trying to reacclimate myself to New York life and so the news articles have been piling up in my inbox.

“The Zionist Melting Pot Boils Over” (The Forward)

“Integration of Ethiopian immigrants, always a challenge due to cultural and racial differences, has become far more complicated in recent years.”But integration of the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) and Israeli Arab communities, according to the article, have proved just as complicated.

“South African Jews Look For Support” (The Forward)

“But in a country where charges of “apartheid” against Israel for its policies toward Palestinians carry enormous emotional punch, it remains to be seen whether the president’s message—delivered within the Jewish community and not more broadly—will be enough.”

“Don’t convert” (Haaretz)

“The fact is that every convert is in danger of having his conversion certificate revoked at any moment. And the secular are shocked: How is it possible that such crude racism has emerged among us?” So the answer is not converting at all? I think not.

“Looking Past the Cry of Racism” (Israel National News)

“Many of the new immigrants from Ethiopia are not on par with Israeli students academically, meaning that their additional education will be a burden carried by the religious schools. Logically, they would need separate classes in order to get the immigrants up to par; and in a year or two, they would be fully integrated into the Israeli school system. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Education calls this racism, even though all the other classes have a mix of White and Black students, as long as the Ethiopian immigrants in those classes are up to par academically.
And the secular are shocked: How is it possible that such crude racism has emerged among us?”

“Masa ends controversial campaign” (The Jerusalem Post)

“Masa ended its controversial Israeli ad campaign early this week after it drew angry reactions from many prominent American writers and even a few Israelis.Deeming assimilated Diaspora Jewish youth as “lost,” the campaign urged Israelis to help Masa connect to these young people “so that we don’t lose them,” in the words of a television ad that was part of the campaign.” Well thank G-d that’s over. Everyone from Esther Kustanowitz to Jewschool weighed in on this crazed Masa campaign.

“Sephardics change last names to fit in” (Ynet News)

“Sephardim switch to ‘Ashkenazi’ surnames to ensure their children’s admission to top seminary schools.”

“Discrimination in the name of Judaism” (Haaretz)

“Successive governments allowed the rabbinical establishment to pile up inhuman difficulties on the new immigrants from Ethiopia, making them traverse a humiliating “via dolorosa” of giyur lehumra (a pro forma conversion required in cases of doubt about one’s Jewish heritage) and endless examinations of their lifestyles. Ostensibly, the immigrants were to have been granted conversion and a sense of belonging. In actuality, they found themselves permanently marked and excluded. “

“Jews, Seeking Allies, Reach Out to Latino Evangelicals” (

I’m grateful and hopeful that this means many Latinos will learn about Judaism in a positive way, as opposed to the anti-Semitism that got passed around in my family like a virus.

“Why Jews see racism in Israel”(Christian Science Monitor)

“Ethiopian immigrants say the refusal of schools to integrate their children is part of a pattern of discrimination that has diluted the idealism that drew them in the first place.” This story of Ethiopian immigrants hits home when I hear stories from converts here in America who are having trouble placing their children in day schools because the children are “well behind their peers in language, religious studies, and other area.”

“Ethiopians ask for chief rabbis’ help on schools” (The Jerusalem Post)

“Photo exhibit shows breadth of Mexican synagogues” (

“Photographer Moy Volcovich was born in Mexico City in 1963 to an Ashkenazi father from Poland and a Mexican-born Sephardic mother. At the time, this was a highly unusual pairing among Jewish couples in his country, Volcovich says.”

“Israel stumbling in bid to ease conversion process” (Haaretz)

“A group of religious Zionist rabbis and Knesset members came out
Wednesday against one of the government’s flagship initiatives to ease the conversion process – a bill to give the Chief Rabbinate a greater role in the process. At the same time, several organizations that run conversion programs said they are on the verge of closing, because the government funding they formerly received has not been transferred since the start of the year. “

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