Manual This is Not the Way: Jews, Judaism and the State of Israel

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But none of these expressions of raw political power has carried more symbolic weight than the new basic law. Netanyahu said after the bill was enacted in the early morning after hours of impassioned debate, just before the Knesset, or Parliament, went into summer recess. It passed in the seat Parliament by a vote of 62 to 55 with two abstentions.

One member was absent. Two others, on human dignity and on liberty and freedom of occupation, both enacted in the s, determine the values of the state as both Jewish and democratic. He noted that a right to equality in Israel had been derived, by interpretation of the Israeli Supreme Court, from the Basic Law on Human Dignity, but that the new law was explicit in elevating the status of Jews. Critics decried it as a populist measure that largely sprang from the perennial competition for votes between Mr. The law, which also was subtly changed where it addresses the Jewish diaspora to mollify ultra-Orthodox leaders, who feared it could promote Jewish pluralism in Israel, also drew protests from overseas.

They remain angry nearly a year after Mr. They will then be tested and formally accepted, the convert is issued with a Shtar geirut "Certificate of Conversion". However there are a number of rabbis who are willing to conduct decentralized conversions today, and are recognized by each other. Two of the more prominent of these rabbis are Chuck Davidson and Haim Amsalem. Conservative Judaism takes a more lenient approach in application of the halakhic rules than Modern Orthodox Judaism.

Its approach to the validity of conversions is based on whether the conversion procedure followed rabbinic norms, rather than the reliability of those performing it or the nature of the obligations the convert undertook. The requirements of Reform Judaism for conversions are different. The denomination states that "people considering conversion are expected to study Jewish theology, rituals, history, culture and customs, and to begin incorporating Jewish practices into their lives. The length and format of the course of study will vary from rabbi to rabbi and community to community, though most now require a course in basic Judaism and individual study with a rabbi, as well as attendance at services and participation in home practice and synagogue life.

Although an infant conversion might be accepted in some circumstances such as in the case of adopted children or children whose parents convert , children who convert would typically be asked if they want to remain Jewish after reaching religious adulthood — which is 12 years of age for a girl and 13 for a boy. This standard is applied by Orthodox and Conservative Judaism, which accept halakha as binding. Reconstructionist Judaism values the symbolism of the conversion ritual, and encourages those who were not born of Jewish parents and who wish to convert to undergo this rite of passage.

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The Reconstructionist course of study for a prospective convert, which is determined by the rabbi and congregation the individual is working with, includes history, observance and beliefs, and learning how to make educated choices. The completion of the process is marked by ritual immersion for men and women; circumcision or hatafat dam brit symbolic drop of blood for men unless there exists an extraordinary physical or emotional hazard ; a Bet Din a dialogue with three knowledgeable Jews, at least one of whom is a rabbi , and often a public welcoming ceremony.

Karaite Judaism does not accept Rabbinic Judaism and has different requirements for conversion. Traditionally non-proselytizing, Karaite Judaism's long standing abstention from conversions was recently lifted. On 1 August , the Karaites reportedly converted their first new members in years. At a ceremony in their Northern California synagogue, ten adults and four minors swore fealty to Judaism after completing a year of study.

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This conversion comes 15 years after the Karaite Council of Sages reversed its centuries-old ban on accepting converts. The Amoraim who produced the Talmud set out three requirements for a conversion to Judaism Keritot 8b , which must be witnessed and affirmed by a beth din hedyot rabbinical court composed of three Jewish males above the age of thirteen they do not need to be rabbis : [ original research?

The consensus of halakhic authorities also requires a convert to understand and accept the duties of the classical Jewish law. This is not stated explicitly in the Talmud, but was inferred by subsequent commentators. After confirming that all these requirements have been met, the beth din issues a "Certificate of Conversion" Shtar Giur , certifying that the person is now a Jew.

According to the Jewish Encyclopedia article on circumcision of proselytes , [23] in the 1st century CE , before the Mishnah was edited, the requirement for circumcision of proselytes was an open issue between the zealots and liberal parties in ancient Israel. Joshua argued that besides accepting Jewish beliefs and laws, a prospective convert to Judaism must undergo immersion in a mikveh. In contrast, R. Eliezer makes circumcision a condition for the conversion. A similar controversy between the Shammaites and the Hillelites is given regarding a proselyte born without a foreskin : the former demanding the spilling of a drop of blood symbolic of the Brit Milah, thereby entering into the covenant; the latter declaring it to be unnecessary.

In discussions about the necessity of circumcision for those born of a Jewish mother, lending some support to the need for circumcision of converts, the Midrash states: "If thy sons accept My Godhead [by undergoing circumcision] I shall be their God and bring them into the land; but if they do not observe My covenant in regard either to circumcision or to the Sabbath , they shall not enter the land of promise " Midrash Genesis Rabbah xlvi.

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Rabbah i. However, the opposing view is supported in the Babylonian Talmud : "A male convert who has been immersed but not circumcised, or circumcised but not immersed, is a convert. He was going to get circumcised, but his mother, Helen, who herself embraced the Jewish customs, advised against it on the grounds that the subjects would not stand to be ruled by someone who followed such "strange and foreign rites". Ananias likewise advised against it, on the grounds that worship of God was superior to circumcision Robert Eisenman in James the Brother of Jesus claims that Ananias is Paul of Tarsus who held similar views, although this is a novel interpretation lacking support in mainstream scholarship and that God would forgive him for fear of his subjects.

So Izates decided against it. However, later, "a certain other Jew that came out of Galilee, whose name was Eleazar", who was well versed in the Law, convinced him that he should, on the grounds that it was one thing to read the Law and another thing to practice it, and so he did. Once Helen and Ananias found out, they were struck by great fear of the possible consequences, but as Josephus put it, God looked after Izates.

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As his reign was peaceful and blessed, Helen visited the Jerusalem Temple to thank God, and since there was a terrible famine at the time, she brought lots of food and aid to the people of Jerusalem. The requirements for conversions vary somewhat within the different branches of Judaism, so whether or not a conversion is recognized by another denomination is often an issue fraught with religious politics.

The Orthodox rejection of non-Orthodox conversions is derived less from qualms with the conversion process itself, since Conservative and even some Reform conversions are ostensibly very similar to Orthodox conversions with respect to duration and content, but rather from that the convert was presumably not properly i.

In general, immersion in the mikveh is an important part of a traditional conversion. If the person who is converting is male, circumcision is a part of the traditional conversion process as well. If the male who is converting has already been circumcised, then a ritual removal of a single drop of blood will take place hatafat dam brit. Someone who was converted to Judaism as a child has an option of rejecting this after reaching the age of maturity, which in Judaism is age twelve for girls or thirteen for boys.

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In the United States of America, Reform Judaism rejects the concept that any rules or rituals should be considered necessary for conversion to Judaism. In the late 19th century, the Central Conference of American Rabbis , the official body of American Reform rabbis, formally resolved to permit the admission of converts "without any initiatory rite, ceremony, or observance whatsoever".

Thus, American Reform Judaism does not require ritual immersion in a mikveh, circumcision, or acceptance of mitzvot as normative. Appearance before a Beth Din is recommended, but is not considered necessary. Converts are asked to commit to religious standards set by the local Reform community. In actual practice, the requirements for conversion of any individual are determined by the Rabbi who sponsors the convert.

Typically, Reform Rabbis require prospective converts to take a course of study in Judaism, such as an "Introduction to Judaism" course, to participate in worship at a synagogue, and to live as a Jew however that is interpreted by the individual Rabbi for a period of time. A period of one year is common, although individual Rabbis' requirements vary. When the sponsoring Rabbi feels that the candidate is ready, a Beth Din may be convened. Other rituals such as immersion in a mikvah, circumcision or Hatafat dam brit , and a public ceremony to celebrate the conversion, are also at the discretion of the Rabbi.

In response to the tremendous variations that exist within the Reform community, the Conservative Jewish movement attempted to set a nuanced approach.

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The Conservative Committee on Jewish Law and Standards has issued a legal opinion stating that Reform conversions may be accepted as valid only when they include the minimal Conservative halachic requirements of milah and t'vilah , appearance before a Conservative Beth Din, and a course of Conservative study. Proceedings of Committee on Jewish Law and Standards: — , pp. In general, branches of Orthodox Judaism consider non-Orthodox conversions either inadequate or of questionable halachic compliance, and such conversions are therefore not accepted by these branches of Judaism.

Conversely, both Conservative and Reform Judaism accept the Orthodox conversion process as being valid. Since , Haredi Orthodox religious courts in Israel have been rejecting conversions from a number of Orthodox rabbis, since the Chief Rabbinate do not accept the authority of the presiding rabbis. In , a Haredi-dominated Badatz in Israel annulled thousands of conversions performed by the Military Rabbinate in Israel. The Chief Rabbinate of Israel , which is the only state-recognized authority on religious matters, backed by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef , ruled against this, making the anullment legally invalid for purposes of Israeli law.

There are two orthodox conversion programmes in Montreal. This program provides a way to convert according to the rigorous rules of Halachah while making the process more "user friendly" for non-Jewish individuals seeking a more "hands-on" or "modern Orthodox" approach.

All conversion candidates—who could include singles, non-Jewish couples and adoption cases—must have a sponsoring rabbi and undergo a rigorous screening process. Conversions stemming from both programs are recognized in Israel and around the world. The process requires one year of learning, circumcision for males , and the taking of the vow that Ruth took.

In the s Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik and other members of the Rabbinical Council of America engaged in a series of private negotiations with the leaders of Conservative Judaism's Rabbinical Assembly , including Saul Lieberman ; their goal was to create a joint Orthodox-Conservative national beth din for all Jews in the United States. It would create communal standards of marriage and divorce. It was to be modeled after the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, where all the judges would have been Orthodox, while it would have been accepted by the larger Conservative movement as legitimate.

Conservative rabbis in the Rabbinical Assembly created a Joint Conference on Jewish Law , devoting a year to this effort. For a number of reasons, the project did not succeed. According to Orthodox Rabbi Louis Bernstein, the major reason for its failure was the Orthodox rabbis' insistence that the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly agree to expel Conservative rabbis for actions they took prior to the formation of the new beth din, and the RA refused to do so.

In , Rabbi Harry Halpern , of the Joint Conference wrote a report on the demise of this beth din. He writes that negotiations between the Orthodox and Conservative denominations were completed and agreed upon, but then a new requirement was demanded by the RCA: The RA must "impose severe sanctions" upon Conservative rabbis for actions they took before this new beth din was formed. Halpern writes that the RA "could not assent to rigorously disciplining our members at the behest of an outside group". He goes on to write that although subsequent efforts were made to cooperate with the Orthodox, a letter from eleven Rosh Yeshivas was circulated declaring that Orthodox rabbis are forbidden to cooperate with Conservative rabbis.

A number of rabbis were Orthodox and had semicha from Orthodox yeshivas, but were serving in synagogues without a mechitza ; these synagogues were called traditional Judaism. Over a five-year period they performed some conversions to Judaism. However, in the joint Beth Din was dissolved, due to the unilateral American Reform Jewish decision to change the definition of Jewishness.

The move was precipitated by the resolution on patrilineality adopted that year by the Central Conference of American Rabbis.

This decision to redefine Jewish identity, as well as the designation of Denver as a pilot community for a new Reform out reach effort to recruit converts, convinced the Traditional and Conservative rabbis that they could no longer participate in the joint board They could not cooperate in a conversion program with rabbis who held so different a conception of Jewish identity.

And furthermore, they could not supervise conversions that would occur with increasing frequency due to a Reform outreach effort that was inconsistent with their own understanding of how to relate to potential proselytes. Specifically, in , the Central Conference of American Rabbis passed a resolution waiving the need for formal conversion for anyone with at least one Jewish parent who has made affirmative acts of Jewish identity. This departed from the traditional position requiring formal conversion to Judaism for children without a Jewish mother. Radical Jewish groups employed terrorism against British forces in Palestine, which they thought had betrayed the Zionist cause.

Britain, unable to find a practical solution, referred the problem to the United Nations, which in November voted to partition Palestine. The Palestinian Arabs, aided by volunteers from other countries, fought the Zionist forces, but by May 14, , the Jews had secured full control of their U. On May 14, Britain withdrew with the expiration of its mandate, and the State of Israel was proclaimed. The Israelis, though less well equipped, managed to fight off the Arabs and then seize key territory, such as Galilee, the Palestinian coast, and a strip of territory connecting the coastal region to the western section of Jerusalem.

In , U. The departure of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs from Israel during the war left the country with a substantial Jewish majority. In , Israel and Egypt signed an historic peace agreement in which Israel returned the Sinai in exchange for Egyptian recognition and peace. The Israeli-Palestinian peace process moved slowly, however, and in major fighting between Israelis and Palestinians resumed in Israel and the occupied territories.

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