The Jerusalem Post reports the Jewish Agency has asked head of the religious courts and Sefardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar to appoint more lenient, albeit still Orthodox, judges to the conversion courts. Rabbi Amar has refused to do so.
Interesting tidbit in the story, though:
…Amar has been trying for many months to get 10 haredi rabbis, including Bnei Brak Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, approved as conversion judges. So far, Rabbi Eliyahu Maimon, the Conversion Authority's administrative head, has managed to block the appointments, claiming they are based on nepotism.…
That is correct. Rabbi Amar, the man who welshed on his conversion 'agreement' with the Rabbinical Council of America, has been trying to appoint a slew of hardline haredi judges to the conversion courts, something that will certainly make the paltry number of yearly conversions go down.
275,000 non-Jews came to Israel under the Law of Return. About 2000 convert each year, a fraction of those who many think would convert, if the process were kinder.But an unnamed source in the Conversion apparatus claims there are no more conversions done each year because there is no demand for more. This flies in the face of government studies and media reports that assert otherwise.
In a bit of double speak worthy of Orwell, Rabbi Amar claims Rabbi Maimon is blocking conversions:
…Amar wrote a letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert complaining that Maimon was an obstacle to facilitating conversions.…
The unnamed source in the Conversion apparatus also claims "95%" of the current judges are "modern Orthodox." Of course, there is a hardline element of the National Religious movement that is as hard as haredim when it comes to conversions. That element is also represented on the conversion courts, so saying "95%" are "modern Orthodox" is meaningless with regard to attitudes toward potential converts or halakhic approaches to conversion.
The bottom line seems clear. Rabbi Amar is moving every part of the State's religious apparatus rightward. He is deceitful, thuggish and manipulative. And no one is standing up to him, in part because American Modern Orthodoxy is silent.
The RCA must find the baytzim to stand up to haredi intimidation. More than that, it become proactive, and must begin to do outreach to Jews of all stripes, presenting the classic (but now almost non-existent) MO approach to Judaism. If it does not, we truly will be two peoples – haredim and non-Orthodox. And RCA members will have no one to balme for this except themselves.
[Hat Tip: Michelle.]