Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Israel Creating a Worldwide Jewish Conversion Outreach Effort?


Well, color me surprised. Apparently an Israeli government committee has proposed a worldwide program to interest people in Judaism and conversion. You know, since they really love the converts, conversion candidates, and patrilineal Jews they already have in Israel. #NoNotBitterWhyDoYouAsk

Last week a committee appointed by Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs suggested that Israel reach out to the tens of millions of people around the world like Sanchez who have an “affinity” to Israel largely because their ancestors may have been Jewish. 
The ministry, which is headed by Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett, a settler supporter, created the committee in 2016 to discover how many people have Jewish ancestry and to propose an outreach program. Once these communities are identified, the committee said, Israel should launch a pilot program to teach willing communities about Judaism and Israel, and to offer Hebrew-language lessons. Those who express a strong and genuine desire to become Jewish should be assisted to convert and possibly make aliyah.According to the committee, an estimated 5 million have distant Jewish relatives while another 35 million are descendants of communities that were forced to abandon their Judaism. An additional 60 million people, whether descendants of mainstream Jews, Jews who were forced to convert or members of other communities, but who either don’t know about their Jewish ancestry or don’t care, are another group primed for potential outreach, the committee said. 
In the report’s introduction, Dvir Kahane, the ministry’s director general, said connecting with “tens of million of people” could potentially foster “support for Israel and aid in the struggle against anti-Semitism.” 
... DellaPergola questioned why the ministry may reach out to millions of people who aren’t eligible to immigrate under the Law of Return at a time when it has failed to convert the roughly 400,000 Israeli citizens who immigrated under the Law of Return, most of them from the former Soviet Union. 
“I would expect that the first concern of the government of Israel would be devoted to the 400,000, which absolutely isn’t the case. The rabbinate converts something like 5,000 of them a year.” 
At this rate “it would take 100 years to convert half a million citizens. Their numbers are growing and the government’s policy is akin to emptying a boat with a tiny spoon,” he said. 
What can I say about this? Israel can't even sort out the conversion system it already has or that system's relationship with the conversion systems already in place around the world. But sure, let's create a new system on top of the current system rather than fixing (or even using) the current system, and I'm sure it'll all work out. Let's just admit this is about demographic warfare and not religion. I'm pretty tired of conversion being used as a political tool/target/boogeyman.


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