Wednesday, January 26, 2011
American Jews on the road to Exclusion
Israeli Judaism is hardening and becoming more exclusive. There is a big problem with converts here, who are being rejected by the hard core of the religious establishment. The Army's rabbis tried to establish a military conversion channel that would allow soldiers to become Jews, but it is failing, as their conversions are not accepted by the establishment. Simply put, Israeli rabbinate is against conversions.
This situation has created a large group of Israelis who were born here and live full Israeli-Jewish life, but float in a religious limbo, not discriminated against in any way but considered not Jews or doubtful Jews (which is the same) by the religious establishment. And the tendency is not towards gradual integration but towards ever harder exclusion.
These people are already in Israel and in any religious reform (BTW, we had none in the last thousand years) or in any national emergency (like the Tchelmietzky children born to kosher Jewish girls kidnapped by the Kossacks) - they will be assimilated. Not so with American Jews. There will be a point when they are so intermarried and so unschooled in Orthodox Judaism that they will be unable to prove their belonging to the Jewish people and they will not be covered by the Law of Return. Even today there are many problems, which are not public because no one wants to alienate American Jewry. But the point is near where only Orthodox are recognized automatically as Jews, and the large mass of Reform Jews are finding growing difficulties to prove their Judaism. As my Mea Shearim uncle said: What kind of Jew are you if you dont keep the Shabbat?
The issue is not an important one today, because few American Jews are making aliyah to Israel. But Israel is fast becoming one of the most prosperous countries on Earth while American living standards have not improved in thirty years. May be I am imagining things, but American Jews may discover one day that their children are considered doubtful Jews, like the current immigration from Russia. Pic.: Rabbi Lewittes from the Sha'ar Community, Canada. She seems a nice person. She even seems to think that she is Jewish.