Jews/Jewish/Judaism/Orthodox Judaism · news · rabbi

Jewish Here, Not Jewish There

It’s articles like these “Jewish in Tel Aviv, Gentile in Ashkelon” (2/3/10, The Jewish Daily Forward) that led to the following joke I make in one of my speeches:

“In America, I am Dominican but in the Dominican Republic, I am American and in Israel, whatever I am depends on a couple of angry rabbis.”
What a life!
I heard another Orthodox Jewish woman who converted in America say of this of the situation in Israel: “I’d like to see those rabbis try to take my Judaism away from me. They would have to take it away from me while I was kicking and screaming. I would fight and I would never stop fighting.”
Now imagine if they try to take Judaism away from her children. Well, I think it’s safe to say things would get ugly, no? But then things have already gotten ugly, haven’t they?

4 thoughts on “Jewish Here, Not Jewish There

  1. Are you kidding me? I say, “If you think you might be Jewish, you probably are!” We need every single Jew, whether born or chosen (I've often heard people say “I didn't choose Judaism, it chose me.”)

    And that, my dear, from an old Southern Jewess with blue eyes and blond (OK, with help) hair and a name that was given intentionally (so that I would appear as a gentile).


  2. I wouldn't go that far. When I was in the conversion process, I remember a particularly sad moment when my coworkers came to me and were asking ME if they were Jewish. They didn't even know the basics of what would or would not constitute as Jewish. And as it turns out, most of them were. Sad.


  3. I understand where Rav Amar was coming from (we can't inspect the conversion standards of every single Beit Din which is considered Orthodox, so we're only going to except conversions overseen by a short list of orgs we know about)- not that I agee with him, though. What I don't understand are the rest of the participants in the conversion wars, though. It gets really nasty sometimes, and has nothing to do with halacha and everything to do with hareidi politics. It shouldn't be like that. After all, the Rabbanut doesn't inspect the participants in each Jewish wedding before deciding the marriage is halachicly sound (for the purposes of aliyah); why should they doubt the halachic legitimacy of the members of every single Beit Din convened for a conversion (which is just another change of personal status)?
    Speaking of getting ugly, did you know that in England, there have been rabbis who doubted the halachic validity of ISRAELI conversions?? That's not halacha, that's just the English rabbanut trying to stick it to the Israeli one.
    I declare shtuyot (nonsense)!!
    I would say that, despite the fact that my husband and I have yet to go to the rabbanut and make our case (now that we have ALREADY MADE ALIYAH, which we were only able to do because the rabbanut ALREADY RECOGNIZED THE HALACHIC VALIDITY OF OUR RESPECTIVE CONVERSIONS), we are very fortunate, because one of the rabbis on our batei-din is now the head of the Rabbinical Council of America, which is now the ONLY Orthodox umbrella body in America the Rabbanut will accept converts from- and that seems largely due to the maneuverings and bribery of R. Tropper, when he ran the Eternal Jewish Family. (For more info, see the relevant blog posts at Failed Messiah, Frum Satire and Un-Orthodox Jew- not to mention the Jewish news outlets…)
    You see? It's not about what you know (and do, as an “observant” Jew), it's about who you know (as a convert). Politics and protekzia trump knowledge and conviction, apparently.
    Maybe the nascent Sanhendrin (see Facebook page! 🙂 ) will have to become prominent for this to change. Or maybe the Mashiach will have to arise (so to speak) and give the Rabbanut a smack-down…


  4. Again, I am reminded of a paraphrase of a quote by Herman Wouk, “No matter how religious you are, you will always be on the treif side of someone who is more religious.”

    Sadly, Peek-a-Boo's comment is right. The well-meaning work of Eternal Jewish Family may be undone due to the unethical actions of Rabbi Tropper. It is common sense that there should be a standard for Orthodox conversions, but this is undermined when “it's not about what you know (and do, as an 'observant' Jew), it's about who you know.”


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