"…Anyone who has undergone conversion is entitled to acquire citizenship. The State of Israel is dealing with a significant number of illegal residents [almost of whom are African asylum seekers – ed.], and they will do everything to enjoy what the state has to offer, [even convert].”
Above: Israel's haredi chief rabbis, David Lau, left, and Yitzhak Yosef, right
Chief Rabbi Argues That Conversion Reform Is Dangerous Because It Will Allow Africans To Convert To Get State Money
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
The council of Israel’s haredi-controlled Chief Rabbinate announced it has appointed a committee to draft a new policy to respond to the government’s decision to pass conversion reform and to decide if the Chief Rabbinate should refuse to recognize conversions to Judaism done under the new law, Ynet reported. The committee will be led by Sefardi haredi Chief Rabbi of Israel Yitzhak Yosef.
If the Chief Rabbinate decides to refuse to recognize conversions done under the reform, that refusal will almost certainly become a case heard by the High Court of Justice. But the Chief Rabbinate considers the High Court to be illegitimate to judge any decision it makes.
"It's unthinkable that a doctor would receive instructions from the Israeli government, and that the government would dictate which medicine he should prescribe for pneumonia," Chief Rabbinate Council's president, haredi Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel David Lau said Monday.
Conversion reform decentralizes conversions by allowing local state-employed chief rabbis of cities, towns and rural areas to form their own conversion courts and do their own conversions. Potential converts would be able to choose which of these conversion court to use to convert to Judaism or they will be able to choose to convert through the four regional conversion courts under the Chief Rabbinate’s control. All of these local chief rabbis who can now do conversions are Orthodox. But many are not haredi and some are even Modern Orthodox and moderate Zionist Orthodox.
Halakha does not mandate formal conversion courts or a hierarchy of conversion administration and throughout the history of rabbinic Judaism, local rabbis have always performed conversions.
One of the major things Lau, Yosef and their haredi colleagues reportedly want to do – besides blocking their moderate Orthodox rivals from having any power – is to limit or completely halt the conversion of minors (especially young minors) because the testimony of minors is not valid under halakha, and therefore they cannot affirm their commitment to abide by halakha. That affirmation a key part of the conversion process as understood by haredim.
However, halakha permits such conversions, even the conversions of newborn infants and toddlers who cannot yet speak. And in any case, all minor converts must under halakha both reaffirm their desire to be Jewish and their commitment to abide by halakha when they reach the age of Jewish majority. If they decline to do so, they are considered to be non-Jews.
Despite the halakha allowing it, haredi leaders want to prevent Israelis from adopting foreign non-Jewish infants and they also want to block minor children of intermarriages from converting.
But it isn’t just Asian and half-Danish babies Lau and his colleagues fear. They also fear African blood.
"The law says that Jews are entitled to acquire citizenship in Israel. In other words, anyone who has undergone conversion is entitled to acquire citizenship. The State of Israel is dealing with a significant number of illegal residents [almost of whom are African asylum seekers – ed.], and they will do everything to enjoy what the state has to offer,” Lau said, going on to argue that the haredi-controlled Chief Rabbinate and its conversion system that was in place before conversion reform was adopted could stop this from happening.