Four hundred and fifty-two soldiers were converted by the IDF
Chief Rabbinate in 2004 and 2,092 soldiers completed the
conversion course according to figures presented to the
Knesset Immigration and Absorption Committee.
The Vaad Horabbonim Haolami Leinyonei Giyur founded by HaRav
Chaim Kreiswirth zt"l said that this new number is a major
increase since in the past only about 100 conversions a year
were done. In a radio interview last week with the chairman
of the Vaad and the IDF Chaplain, the latter clearly admitted
that the course which prepares the soldiers for conversion is
run in conjunction with the Institute for Jewish Studies
which is jointly administered by Conservative and Reform.
Some of the male teachers, according to the chaplain, do not
wear kippot, and the students are exposed to
Conservative and Reform ideologies.
The Chairman of the Vaad asked the chaplain how it is that
this Institute could be involved in preparing Orthodox
conversions if the Israeli Chief Rabbinate in a decision in
5758 strictly prohibited any sort of cooperation with the
Conservative and Reform movement, and specifically this
It further mystifies the Vaad how a true convert can graduate
from a course which exposes him to Conservative and Reform
Committee Chairman MK Avital (Labor) praised the IDF for its
work in the area of conversion and expressed hopes that
similar numbers would be achieved among civilians.
According to Brigadier General Ron Kenzi, head of the regular
army personnel division, 7,500 non-Jewish soldiers currently
serve in the IDF. "In 2004 we made arrangements to hold
conversion courses for 400 soldiers at a time," he reported.
"By the beginning of 2005, 3,258 soldiers had completed the
course, of whom 2,092 are not Jewish." Apparently the
remaining 1,166 are also not Jewish according to halochoh but
are listed as Jews in the Population Registry.
Prof. Benny Ish Shalom, head of the Joint Conversion
Programs, said that of the 2,092 non-Jewish soldiers 90
percent expressed an interest in continuing with conversion
proceedings and 1,600 are enrolled in a follow-up course. He
says that the IDF Chief Rabbi has a positive policy and
approach that assists the conversion of non-Jewish
In reaction to the alarming figures, MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni
said, "The conversion system in Israel must only be run in
accordance with halochoh and at established botei din.
Wholesale, assembly-line conversions cannot be allowed to
take place as if one could enter a machine on one side as a
goy and come out on the other side as a Jew. This kind of
conversion cannot be considered conversion. This is a joke,
and there is no room for jokes when speaking of an issue that
affects the very heart and soul of Judaism."