Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

6 Teves 5759, December 15, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly







Opinion & Comment
The Need to Set Up a Jewish Identity Database

Recently, as the calls to allow free entry of non-Jews to the State of Israel have become more common and have come from higher and higher levels, we see how self-destructive is the liberal and permissive ideology that underlies these feelings.

Even the Minister of Absorption declared that she is happy to see non-Jews come to Israel because she views the separation of the Jewish people from the Jewish religion as a positive development. Members of the press also welcomed the non- Jewish immigrants, calling them allies in the struggle with religious Jews about the social and cultural future of Israeli society.

"If it were up to me, I would change the Law of Return to allow not only half-Jews and eighth-Jews to come. I would happily bring even complete goyim. The non-Jewish immigrants are our foreign legion; the allies of the secularists in their struggle over the chiloni image of this State. . . . They cannot be brought to teshuva or be softened by memories of their grandparents. They want to eat pork with milk, take buses on Shabbos and have a secular education.

"As one whose pedigree extends to Meah Shearim, I can say that I feel that I have more in common with pork-eating Provoslavs, kein yirbu, than with my cousins with curled payos." -- the words of Arye Caspi writing in Ha'aretz.

Many Leftist writers do not go this far, and some express concern about the trends that are clear from the latest official figures which put the proportion of non-Jews who immigrated this year at almost 60% -- and according to the independent research of the Vaad HaRabbonim Haolami LeInyonei Giyur headed by HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth the true figure is closer to 80%, as discussed elsewhere in this issue.

One angle of this problem is the Law of Return itself, which, due to the shifting demographics of the Jews throughout the world, probably applies to many more non-Jews than Jews. This is acknowledged to be true of Russia, and whispered to be true of America as well. The law as it currently stands allows relatives of relatives to come in and benefit from the whole generous absorption package )partly funded by donations from American Jewish communities(, even though they have no special relationship or feeling for the Jewish people. The parents of someone married to a Jew for example, are fully entitled to come.

Citizenship in every state is predicated on some commonality between all the citizens. When the Law of Return was passed, most Jews, whether religious or not, had a lot in common, and assimilation was much lower so that it was reasonable to assume that an immigrant under the Law of Return had so much in common with the majority of the State of Israel that he or she was entitled to become a citizen immediately upon arrival.

This cannot be said of the "Provoslav pork eaters." It is shortsighted to view them as allies. In the long -- and even intermediate -- run they will undermine the Jewish character of the country and not just support its secularization.

There is no doubt that those whose Jewish identity is weakest have the most to fear from these immigration trends.

We know what we might have to do to defend our own social integrity. If there is no choice, we may have to implement a database of Jews that will register all those known to be Jews. This may be the only way that our descendants can be sure that someone they want to marry is truly Jewish and not the offspring of someone who bought false documents for a few dollars.

Of course this registry would include everyone known conclusively to be Jewish, regardless of his or her level of religious observance.

Let no one ever accuse us of divisiveness. It is not our defensive actions that are divisive but the policies and ideologies that force us to take these steps.

It goes without saying that such a momentous step must be the decision of maranan verabonon gedolei Yisroel shlita, poskei hador ve'amudei horo'oh.

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