Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

26 Iyar 5763 - May 28, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Poraz Declares Orthodox Conversion not a Prerequisite for Citizenship
by Betzalel Kahn

In the latest of his inflaming proclamations, Interior Minister Avraham Poraz (Shinui) informed Attorney General Eliakim Rubinstein he supports granting citizenship based solely on the Citizenship Law, a law that allows entry to Israel based on "humanitarian reasons, uniting families, identifying with Zionism or those whose endeavors make a tangible contribution to Israeli society." Poraz told Rubinstein he would like the State to assume this as its official stance in pending High Court appeals filed against the Interior Ministry for its refusal to grant citizenship to goyim who undergo non-Orthodox "conversions," a position that would effectively remove Orthodox conversion as a condition for receiving citizenship.

In his efforts to grab headlines and torment the chareidi, national-religious and traditional sectors, Poraz claims, "The conversion procedure is being taken advantage of for ulterior motives."

He said conversion as practiced today has led to the settlement of Third World people in Israel. "As far as I'm concerned it makes no difference whether the conversion was Orthodox and certified by the Chief Rabbinate or Conservative or Reform. Whoever wants to convert after receiving [citizenship] would be able to do so, but then we would all know the conversion was done earnestly and not in order to gain benefits."

As in past remarks Poraz makes clear distinctions among various population groups based on their land of origin. "A more lenient approach should be taken and less suspicion should be cast on applicants with citizenship from developed nations than on those who come from Third World nations, because people who arrive from developed nations do not generally come due to economic incentives."

Mafdal Chairman MK Effie Eitam attacked Poraz' position saying, "Such an irresponsible individual cannot be allowed to handle such a sensitive issue." He announced he would demand that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon revoke Poraz' authority in this area.

According to reports last week the Interior Ministry already began to implement Poraz' approach six months ago based on a directive by the Attorney General then to stop granting citizenship and new immigrant rights based on the Law of Return to those who convert in Israel, claiming foreign workers were taking advantage of the ability to undergo quick and easy "conversions" at certain botei din.

Commenting on Poraz' remarks, a spokesman for the Vaad HaRabbonim LeInyonei Giyur, founded by the late av beis din of Antwerp HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth, said the present official geirus system under the auspices of the Israel Chief Rabbinate and run by a special court system has proven over the course of many years to be a faulty system that performs assembly-line conversions based solely on knowledge, and fails to properly ascertain the conversion candidate's true motives and whether he sincerely intends to observe Torah and mitzvos.

"The Vaad calls on the Chief Rabbinate to set up a proper conversion system to be manned exclusively by talmidei chachomim with yiras Shomayim who would carefully and properly evaluate the convert's sincerity. Under such a system the Interior Ministry would be proud of these genuine converts--who would be good citizens and would contribute considerably to the State of Israel--and therefore would have no qualms about granting them citizenship. In order to accomplish this goal the number of people undergoing conversion must be reduced and all candidates must be properly screened. The politicians and so-called rabbis who are calling for an expansion of the present conversion system and a lowering of standards merely aggravate the problem and cause goyim to enter Beis Yisroel."


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.