"I am in possession of statistics indicating that 80% of the
immigrants arriving in Israel today, are not Jewish," UTJ MK
Rabbi Shmuel Halpert warned, members of the Knesset Aliya and
The committee had convened to discuss the possibility that a
sefer yuchsin would have to be opened.
The issue was raised by MK Yossi Paritzki (Shinui).
The proposal resulted from the tremendous impact made by a
statement from maranan verabonon on the urgent need
for lineage records, due to the huge increase of non-Jews
immigrating from the C.I.S.
Currently, the practical aspects of expanding the sifrei
yuchsin project -- which was started about two years ago -
- are being examined and the idea is gaining impetus.
It is noteworthy that secular groups and non-religious public
bodies, who want their progeny to remain Jews, are showing
great interest in the possibility.
Rabbi Halpert also said, that he has information that of 100
children who immigrated within the framework of the Naaleh
plan, only two were Jews. He said that the problem isn't only
religious, but also a national one of the utmost importance,
which is threatening the Jewish character of the State of
In his opinion, records in lineage books will take place
whether one likes it or not, due to the dangers posed by non-
Orthodox movements and the massive non-Jewish immigration.
According to the spokesman for the Vaad Horabbonim Haolami
Leinyonei Giyur headed by HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth, the
original organizers of the sefer yuchsin project, the
problem is intensified since the Israeli Chief Rabbinate has
not taken proper measures to compile a complete and clear
list of the non-Jews and false converts in Israel.
Minister Michael Melchior admitted that 55 percent of the
immigrants in recent years are non-Jews, and that 10% of them
are grandchildren of Jews and immigrate to Israel under the
Law of Return. According to the information of the Vaad, the
percentage of current non-Jewish immigrants is around 80%.
"An increasingly large part of them have absolutely no
affinity to even the broadest definition of Judaism,"
Melchior said. He said that he supports the change of the Law
of Return in order to limit the non-Jewish immigration,
adding that there is no reason to regard this law as one
which cannot be changed.
Along with this, Minister Melchior reiterated his support for
conversion institutes which will operate together with the
Reform and Conservative movements, and said that these
institutes should be established both in Israel and the
The Conservative representative who participated in the
committee meeting congratulated Melchior for his plans to
expand the conversion activities and the institutes.
Benny Ish Shalom, the head of these institutes, said that
they are receiving broad government support, and reported
that there is a plan to establish 100 such institutions in
Israel and abroad.
Maranan verabonon, gedolei Yisroel vehemently oppose
the founding of institutes which collaborate with the Reform
and the Conservative movements or any form of collaboration
with these heretical movements. At the request of the Vaad
and Yated, the Israeli Chief Rabbinate issued an
official statement reiterating their position prohibiting any
cooperation with the Conservative and Reform, and
disqualifying them from taking any part in the conversion
All of the prominent rabbonim in Israel, including those of
Shas and the NRP, also sharply oppose such collaboration.
MK Yitzchak Gagula (Shas) said that since there are hundreds
of thousands of non-Jewish immigrants in the country, there
is no alternative but to establish a data base of the Jews in
the country, in order to prevent mixed marriages.
The chairman of the committee, Naomi Blumenthal (Likud)
claimed that the establishing of such a lineage database will
create class A Jews and class B Jews. "That is a disturbing
thought," she said.
She admitted that the likelihood of massive intermarriage is
indeed high due to the hundreds of thousands of non-Jews who
immigrate to Israel from the C.I.S. She said that there is no
choice but to change the Law of Return in order to restrict
the non-Jewish immigration to Israel.
In another development United Torah Judaism MK Rabbi Avrohom
Ravitz introduced a bill aimed at tightening up immigration
laws, only to withdraw it a few minutes later.
Similar to a bill presented by Nachum Langental (National
Religious Party), Rabbi Ravitz was calling for the abolition
of the section of the law which allows the non-Jewish
grandchildren of Jews to immigrate.
All religious MKs are backing the change, with signs that an
increasing number of other MKs are also falling in line with
the idea, given that an excess of 200,000 new immigrants are
said to be non-Jewish.
Secular MKs are launching a fight against such proposals.
Democratic Choice leader Roman Bronfman obtained the
signatures of 25 MKs on a letter he sent to Prime Minister
Ehud Barak arguing against any changes to the law.
Rabbi Ravitz said he decided to withdraw his bill for several
reasons: he decided at the last minute it was better not to
quickly pass the reform through the Knesset without a broad
political consensus; several supporters got what he called
cold feet just before the vote; the government and Knesset
Immigration, Absorption, and Diaspora Committee chairwoman
Naomi Blumenthal both asked him to work on the issue with
Though Bronfman applauded the withdrawal of the law, he noted
that 51 percent of Jews in the U.S., Canada, Russia, Ukraine,
and Belarus are now marrying gentiles.
A day earlier MK Nachum Langental (National Religious Party)
introduced a private member's bill in the Knesset calling for
the repeal of the "grandchild" section of the Law of Return.
The reason this section was included in the original law was
to offer a home to all those persecuted for their links to
Judaism, said Langental.
Today such threats do not exist, he added, but because this
paragraph remains, hundreds of thousands of non-Jews have
been able to enter the country in recent years.
The change he is proposing is that only Jews or their
children would be entitled to immigrate.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Minister Michael
Melchior, responsible for Diaspora affairs, and Interior
Minister Natan Sharansky are also working on a plan to
tighten immigration laws.
One of their main proposals is likely to be in line with that
proposed by Langental.
According to Melchior, in private conversations Barak has
displayed a flexible approach.
MKs from seven factions called on Barak to retain the status
quo in the Law of Return led by Roman Bronfman (Democratic
Choice). The MKs have been joined in their call by 16 former
Prisoners of Zion and refuseniks.
The feeling among those politicians who work closest with
American Jewry is that there would be an uproar should the
law be changed.
On the other hand, it seems there is a move among many MKs
from the former Soviet Union that the time has come "to
ensure the Jewish nature of the state" by preventing an
additional influx of immigrants whose Jewishness is