Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

4 Nissan 5765 - April 13, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











MK Rabbi Gafni Demands Amendment to Conversion Law

By Eliezer Rauchberger

In a blustery plenum session last week the Knesset discussed the recent High Court decision to recognize Reform and Conservative "conversions" performed outside of Israel.

MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni said that the coalition agreement between Degel HaTorah and the Likud includes a paragraph that obligates the government to rectify any alteration to the status quo on religious issues. "We will demand a legislative amendment and will insist the government rectifies this," he declared.

Shas Chairman Eli Yishai, who spoke first on the matter, said that at the beginning of the summer session Shas would table a proposal to amend the breach resulting from the scandalous High Court decision.

At the end of the meeting the religious MKs mobilized to remove from the agenda the motions for order raised by MK Tomi Lapid (Shinui) and MK Roman Bronfman (Meretz) and only the motion by Shas for further in-committee discussions was passed in a majority vote.

In a fiery speech Rabbi Gafni lodged harsh criticism against the High Court ruling and the High Court President. "One of the central issues in a sovereign, democratic state is who is given citizenship in the state," said Rabbi Gafni. "The High Court has essentially opened the way for anyone in the world to decide who will be a citizen in the State of Israel. Anybody can decide who can immigrate to here and receive immigrant rights. There is no book of laws for Reform and Conservative [Jews]. An individual can stand up and decide he is a rabbi and he has decided to convert [non-Jews]. And through the power vested in him by the High Court he gives the goy in a given part of the world citizenship in the State of Israel because he has become a `Jew.' Through a quickie conversion he becomes a `Jew.'"

Raising the tone of his speech, Rabbi Gafni said, "I know the High Court President knows he is creating total disorder here. But he has two [objectives]: one, to transform the State of Israel into what he considers an ordered state, and two, to transform the State of Israel into an `enlightened' country according to his worldview. And he decided to make a mess of things. But above all that it become an enlightened country.

"The Book of Law of the Jewish people, of entering the Jewish people, is one, and whoever speaks of various methods of conversion and cites Hillel Hagodol, this is a shame and a disgrace. It would be like someone coming up here and talking about brain surgery, not knowing anything and without having studied medicine. Therefore what the High Court did is unparalleled bedlam that does not exist in any democratic country in the world."

Shas Chairman Eli Yishai called the High Court decision wretched, saying it "jeopardizes the stability of the country, the social and economic security and the security of the State of Israel. A dangerous decision without equal. I think this is the most dangerous decision the High Court has made since the founding of the State," he said, adding that this is not a secular-religious issue but rather a decision that the majority of Israel's citizens oppose.

MK Yishai also cited a "shocking" study by Manof which found 80 percent of High Court decisions over the past decade were anti-religious. He also cited the minority opinion written by the judges opposed to recognizing Reform and Conservative conversions. "Is there a third-generation Jew among the Reform? Eventually all of them assimilate. This will pose an existential threat to the Jewish people. To enter a normal cooperative association is much harder than how the Reform bring Jews into the Jewish people. Is it such a simple matter to become a part of the Jewish people? The High Court has permitted anyone . . . to deceive the State of Israel, to lie to the State of Israel, to buy citizenship. Read what the minority judges say: with what ease a person will travel to Cyprus and become a Jew. In every generation Jews gave up their lives for their Judaism, died sanctifying the Name of Heaven to preserve their Judaism. And without their act of sacrifice and without the Torah, would we have remained the Jewish people today? Why did the Jews of Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Europe remain Jews? Why? Because we have a single Judaism. There are no streams in Judaism."

MK Roni Brizon (Shinui): "There are streams in Judaism."

MK Yishai: "There are no streams in Judaism. There is one Judaism and there are streams of turbid water that want to destroy Judaism. There are streams fighting against Judaism."

Yishai then discussed the various trials and tribulations the Jewish people have suffered through the course of history, including the Spanish Inquisition, the Expulsion, the Diaspora and the Holocaust. "What kept the Jewish people going? Why was no nation able to overcome the Jewish people? Because the Jewish people was united and one. It had a unified halochoh and a unified conversion. For there is no way to perform conversions except according to halochoh," he concluded.


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