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Haredim Genealogy Book & Reform in Israel

Rabbi Ari ShvatAv 9, 5777
81
Question
The Haredim are asking that the State of Israel produce a Genealogy Book that states clearly who is halachically Jewish and who had a legitimate Orthodox conversion. What is the Religious Zionist position on such matters? Many of the early Zionists were not halachically Jewish themselves, nor were many people who came to Israel after the War in Europe, or after the 6 Day War from America. Many of these people were not halachically Jewish, many were not even Jewish at all. Israel did not ask for proof then, so why is it necessary now for the Jews coming from America? Do you think a strong Reform movement in the Russian community would benefit Israel in this regard? Or do Israeli’s prefer that they become Christians?
Answer
Part of the beauty of having a Jewish State is that of unity and brotherhood, and I personally, am against anything which would harm those ideals, like having separate “lists” of genealogy and blacklisting ba’alei T’shuva, etc. The official Chief Rabbinate’s job is to ascertain whether one’s conversion is kosher, enabling him to marry everyone else, and if every sub-group starts questioning each-other, there is no end to the mutual accusations which will start taking place. Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai had many differences of opinion, including who would be a mamzer, yet they never stopped marrying each-other (Y’vamot 14a). Factually, all of the early Zionist pioneers were halachically Jewish, for intermarriage wasn’t common at all at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, especially among those affiliated with the national renewal of Zionism. Even after WWII, those who assimilated were the anti-thesis of those who came to Israel out of Jewish identification, and the same is true regarding olim from America, where very few reform and conservative, and even less unaffiliated, make aliya. When the first Reform Temple was built in Israel, Ben-Gurion is quoted as having said, “if I ever would want to go to a synagogue, I’ll go to a real one!”. In general, Israeli culture is relatively traditional, and the anti-traditional Reform movement, with many rabbis who don’t even believe in God, and where women don’t light Shabbat candles at sundown, is viewed as not serious. Olim from Russia generally “assimilate” into the aforementioned Israeli traditionalism, and see things similarly, and don’t find Reform appealing, and surely not Christianity!
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