Decrease in Army `Conversions'
By Eliezer Rauchberger
Following the public debate over IDF "conversions," last year the number of soldiers undergoing army conversion dropped by 100, Col. Marcel Assulin, head of the Education Corps in the IDF's Personnel Division, told the Knesset Immigration and Absorption Committee on Tuesday.
In past years, Assulin reported, 800 soldiers went through the Nativ conversion program, while last year that number was around the 700 mark. He also said this year the IDF will "convert" its 5,000th soldier.
A representative from ITIM revealed that ranking army figures married to non-Jewish women would like to have them convert.
Muli Jesselson, head of the conversion department, said that every year 7,000 people apply for conversion, and in 2010 a total of 4,645 "converted" — 2,159 from the former Soviet Union, 1,813 from Ethiopia and 673 from other countries. He also noted that there has been a decrease in the number of conversion applications from Ethiopia, whereas the number of FSU applicants went up 17 percent, the third year it has shown an increase.
However, the number of "converts" has been declining sharply during the past four years — from 8,008 in 2007 to 6,221 in 2008, 6,231 in 2009 and just 4,645 last year. Jesselson says today there are no delays in the so-called conversion procedure.
In the past gedolei Yisroel shlita have spoken out sharply against army conversion, saying sanctioning "conversions not done according to halacha" is a "breach in the walls of Kerem Beit Yisroel" and called on "all those in a position to prevent this terrible chilul Hashem to close the breach" to take action.