Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Shlomo Amar: Hardcore Sepharadi Chief Rabbi
Chief Sepharadi Rabbi Shlomo Amar (pic) is heading the hardening of Israel's attitude toward opening up the Jewish people. Converts will no longer be recognized as Jews under the Law of Return, blocking the immigration of people converted in the Diaspora and particularly it invalidates the Judaism of many Reform Jews. It is a normal situation when one group stigmatizes and doubts the legitimate Judaism of another one, rivalry and competition is a very Jewish phenomenon and leads to hardening of the inner nucleus of our people. Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar initiative will practically put an end to the Ethiopian immigration to Israel that has been going on for the last thirty two years. Some 150,000 Ethiopians succeeded in coming in, many of them bona fide Falasha Jews, most of them migrants on fake claims. The religion of the Falashas is a modified form of Mosaic Judaism unaffected generally by postbiblical developments. The Falashas retain animal sacrifice. They celebrate scriptural and nonscriptural feast days, although the latter are not the same as those celebrated by other Jewish groups. One of the Falasha nonscriptural feast days, for example, is the Commemoration of Abraham. The Sabbath regulations of the Falashas are stringent.They observe biblical dietary laws, but not the postbiblical rabbinic regulations concerning distinctions between meat and dairy foods. Marriage outside the religious community is forbidden. Monogamy is practiced, marriage at a very early age is rare, and high moral standards are maintained. In the last centuries, most of the Falashas have abandoned their religion and converted to Ethiopian Christianity or they became Muslims. The few thousands who remained faithful to Judaism were persecuted and escaped to Sudan and they were rescued by Israel in 1975. But the continuing mass immigration of the descendants of the Falashas has created a grave social problem in Israel, with children who do not go to school, adults who do not work and even some skin-color discrimination claims that were unknown in Israel. The Interior Ministry will close down its operation in Ethiopia in another two weeks, after signing the last aliyah permit for Falash Mura who are eligible to immigrate to Israel. The Falash Mura are Ethiopians of claimed Jewish descent whose ancestors converted to Christianity. Since polygamy and divorce is rampant, it is nearly impossible to establish reliable family genealogies. From the genetic viewpoint, Ethiopian Jews and Jewish descendants are 100% Ethiopians, that is, they do con carry any of the typical "Jewish" markers. They are not Jewish according to themselves (most come tattoed with crosses on the face) and according to Jewish law, but in 1999, under pressure from American Jewish organizations, the government agreed to bring them to Israel. They are currently arriving at a rate of about 300 per month. In late 2006, however, the government decided to bring the remaining Falash Mura here and wind up its operation in Ethiopia within a year. According to the government's immigration criteria, which are based on a halakhic ruling by Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, a Falash Mura must be able to prove their maternal ancestral line is Jewish for seven generations back, have a first-degree relative who is already in Israel and promise to undergo conversion upon arrival.