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Eliana Benador: Government Affront at Chief Rabbinate of Israel

The Israeli government is interfering between Judaism and state in an abrupt reversal aiming at undermining the authority of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel regarding orthodox conversions instead allowing random conversions done by any rabbi.

A man holds up a Torah scroll as women stand across a fence at the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray in Jerusalem's old city, Wednesday, April 10, 2013. The rabbi of Judaism's holiest prayer site has backed a proposal to establish a prayer section for mixed-gender worship, a groundbreaking motion that could end a decades-old fight against Orthodox monopoly of the area. Credit: AP

The Netanyahu government has introduced a radical change on the horizon of Judaism as they have recently approved the indiscriminate all-rabbi "obtainable conversion" whereby conversions will be facilitated by any Israeli rabbi, thus breaking the strict orthodox conversion system controlled by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.

Judaism is a complex religion, which counts 613 strict commandments. It is a system that has been very well planned, carefully crafted to utmost perfection. Rabbis and Jewish sages understand that it was set up by none other than the Creator of the Universe. And therefore they are keen in following it to the letter.

The reader should know that a Jewish sage is one who is more than just a wise man, he is a thoroughly learned erudite in Jewish texts, from the Torah to the Guemara, the Tanach, the Talmud, the Kabbalah and so on. Most of them lived in the Middle Ages. Among them are, Hillel and Shammai, Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai, Rabbi Akiba, Rambam aka Maimonides, Ramban aka Nachmanides, and others.

Contemporary Jewish sages are chosen to sit at the Beth Din which are the Jewish courts of law that implement what is taught in the Torah, the book of Judaism.

It is that heavily intellectual and rigourous team of Jewish sages that have substantiated during millennia the understanding and application of the 613 commandments of Judaism that are found from the onset in the Torah (or the Old Testament as it is also known in the outer world.)

One of Judaism’s peculiarities is that, unlike all other religions, it does not proselytize. On the contrary they typically refuse converts and try to dissuade them. Only the most persevering cases succeed in joining Judaism.

For that reason, conversions to Judaism in Israel have to be regulated by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, the highest rabbinical authority who, naturally follow to the letter the laws of Judaism.

Reformists whose liberal views guide the secular movement in Israel have no respect for such an authority and have succeeded in their demands to abolish the supremacy of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, falsely arguing that it is but “one voice” when in reality it consists of two great contemporary Jewish sages who are the Chief Rabbis: an Ashkenazi rabbi and a Sephardi rabbi, also known as the Rishon le Zion. These Chief Rabbis are elected for 10 year terms. The present Sephardi Chief Rabbi is Yitzhak Yosef and the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi is David Lau, both of whom commenced their terms in 2013.

The Rabbinate has jurisdiction over many aspects of life of Jews in Israel. It includes personal status issues, such as Jewish marriages and Jewish divorce, as well as Jewish burials, Conversion to Judaism, Kashrut and kosher certification, olim, supervision of Jewish holy sites, working with various mikvaot and yeshivot, and overseeing Israeli Rabbinical courts.

Be it as it may, recently the Israeli government initiated steps to corrupt the strict conversion system put in place for millennia and their goal is to replace it with their own version called “obtainable conversion” that will permit local rabbis to convert individuals.

Netanyahu and his government, supposed to be the “only democracy” in the Middle East, are thus abandoning one of their democratic principles, violating the law of non-interference between state and Judaism.

However, as they needed extra help from their friends, in came the powerful Jewish former Soviet Union refusenik and Nobel Peace Laureate, Natan Sharansky, whose pressure has been critical for this endeavor. Born and bred in the communist, atheist, Soviet Union, Sharansky admits he was totally disaffiliated from Jewish education and surrounded by a fierce anti-Semitism that rather made him fear to be a Jew.

He succeeded moving to Israel from the Soviet Union in 1986, under the Law of Return, and is now the head of the Jewish Agency, a secular organization that “connects Jews with Israel, with one another, with their heritage, and with our collective future.” And no, no mention of Judaism, but his agency is planning one more massive Ukrainian immigration in the near future. This law comes in at the right time.

Who can be surprised to learn that it has been none other than the pro-Palestinian Hatnua chairwoman and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni who proposed the government order, along with Naftali Bennett, the Bayit Yehudi chairman and Religious Services Minister.

The law was approved by the cabinet, with only Bayit Yehudi’s Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel voting against it. This is a sad moment for Judaism.

"The bill helps our brother-converts to experience the conversion process in a positive and supportive way in accordance with Jewish law," according to Bennett.

Liberals always have hard times following rules and would rather live happier as hippies in the wilderness while relabeling anything wrong as “right”. A burdensome religion such as Judaism is an easy target for these "free" beings.

They have the audacity to complain about "overly strict standards": "The centralized beit din system almost invariably relies on the most stringent opinions of halachah, or Jewish law. As a result, the mainstream halachic tradition, which is far more inclusive and compassionate, is ignored. This overly strict approach to conversion causes unnecessary suffering on the part of would-be converts."

Truthfully, no where in the Torah are Jews told to pick and choose to the best of their comfort which commandments to follow and or how much of them. What appears in the Torah is not up for negotiation and if anyone wants to do that, will have to address God Himself.

That said, why fight a doomed battle with the Creator of the Universe, when there are all other religions waiting for Jewish deserters who, if so unhappy with their own religion, should not hesitate to move to better horizons, where they will be undoubtedly welcomed with open arms.

As expected, the chief rabbis and the ultra-Orthodox haredi and their political parties have manifested the utmost disagreement towards these reforms by secular authorities.

They are most likely bracing themselves, conflict will soon be looming between the religious and the non-religious in Israel.

Meanwhile, as never before, Muslim Palestinian terrorists are successfully doing their job inside Israel proper with innocent Israeli victims being slaughtered in the most authentic Islamist ways. And this is no coincidence.

One gets the impression that God can no longer wait to punish the seculars affronts against Him.

Eliana Benador is an author and contributor to The Blaze. She is a strategic and risk consultant, adviser, opinion writer who was the founder of Benador Associates. Her website is www.elianabenador.com. You may follow her at @ElianaBenador on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook.

TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.

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