Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

3 Shevat 5768 - January 10, 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Foreign Minister Calls for Conversion Leniencies

By Yechiel Sever

Rabbonim, dayonim and public figures were outraged following remarks by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni during a cabinet meeting about easing conversion procedures for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who received Israeli citizenship based on the Law of Return. "Any attempt to intervene in halachic matters is wholly unacceptable," said rabbonim. "These types of remarks merely brought disaster on the Jewish people, who for generations kept the halochoh, which is the sole determinant of the conversion procedure."

During the cabinet meeting Livni said, "The issue of conversion is critical in reaching a solution to the problem of hundreds of thousands of immigrants living in Israel based on the Law of Return. Substantial easing is needed in the conversion process for these hundreds of thousands of people, and a solution must be provided.

"The Diaspora is linked to Israel through its feeling of solidarity with Israel. Within Jewish communities we're seeing a process of identifying less with Israel, less understanding and knowledge of history and fewer ties between Israel and Jewish communities...In Israel we have to strengthen the understanding of who we are as a Jewish nation and the meaning of our existence as a Jewish and democratic state. The Government of Israel must provide a solution by establishing a constitution, and in my view the fact that since Israel was founded a constitution has not been forged is a failure, both a technical failure and a failure in education."

In response to Livni's remarks rabbonim said that since conversion is an entirely halachic matter, nobody can dictate to rabbonim how to act.

A report presented at the cabinet meeting showed there are currently just under 5.5 million Jews living in Israel, making it the world's largest Jewish community with 41 percent of the 13.5 million Jews worldwide. During the past five years the number of Jews in Israel has swollen by 300,000, an increase of 6 percent, while in the Diaspora the number of Jews has decreased by 100,000 or 1.2 percent.

According to some these figures about worldwide Jewish population are greatly exaggerated and the true figure is about half of the commonly cited one.


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.