State of Israel is threatened by a serious socio-religious divide that could split the nation in half unless a law is passed to decentralize authority over Jewish conversion, said Tzohar President and Chief Rabbi Shoham Municipal, Rabbi David Stav.
Speaking on Jerusalem postIn the Zoomcast series, Stav dismissed concerns that conversions under such a law would not be widely accepted and said the legislation would allow rabbis to use the tools available in Jewish law to facilitate conversion. , especially for children.
Minister of Religious Services Matan Kahana is expected to submit legislation to the Knesset in the coming weeks that would allow chief municipal rabbis to set up their conversion courts.
The motivation behind the legislation is to convert large numbers of Israeli citizens who are of Jewish descent, but not Jews under Jewish law, in order to avoid mass interfaith marriages in the Jewish state and the creation of a large part of the population that is technically non-Jewish but fully integrated into Jewish society.
There are currently over 400,000 Israeli citizens, mostly from the former Soviet Union or their children, who fall into this category.
The legislation would allow large moderate municipal rabbis, such as Stav, to adopt more lenient conversion approaches in order to deal with the problem, especially with regard to children who are easier to convert than adults.
“On the one hand, we will have tens of thousands of Israelis who will marry [those who are not halachically Jewish people… and on the other hand they’ll be a group who says this [first] group is no longer Jewish, ”Stav said if the current situation persists.
The rabbi said this would divide Israeli society “into two immense nations” and endanger social cohesion, solidarity and even security.
“Many Jews in Israel are ready to fight for a Jewish state, but they are not ready to fight for an Israeli state [which is] not a Jewish state, ”Stav said.
And the rabbi even compared the situation to the split of the ancient kingdom of Israel following the death of King Solomon, as the Bible reports.
There is, however, intense opposition to the legislation of the Chief Rabbinate and ultra-Orthodox political parties, while senior ultra-Orthodox rabbis and some senior Zionist conservative religious rabbis are also likely to vehemently oppose it.
When asked whether advancing the reform of the conversion process in the midst of such opposition would not in itself cause socio-religious divisions, Stav rejected the argument that ultra-Orthodox rabbis do not recognize already not the conversions carried out under the auspices of the chief rabbinate.
“Not all Haredi rabbis, not most, all, do not recognize the conversions of the Chief Rabbinate… So the situation could not be worse than it is today,” the rabbi said.
Asked about opposition from Zionist religious rabbis, Stav said “95%” would accept conversions under the new system.