Israel is not America

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By Mr. Whiskers   09March2016 ג באדר ב׳ ה׳תשע״ו
OK, Everyone has seen the news about the new Pew Research Center poll about Israel’s Religiously Divided Society and even the Pew Research Center had to write something;7 key findings about religion and politics in Israel By
Click to download PDF file
Click on the pdf full report for all the details or just look below

But to try and place Israelis into a Diaspora box is all wrong. We have a different history then from the German Jews of the 1800s and their descendent that immigrated to the US in the 1880s -1920s from Europe. What Jews in America are not taking into account is all the Sephardic Jews from North Africa/Middle East that were not influenced by European History of the 1800s. Then there is the Baal Teshuva Movement of Jews returning to Hashem (G-d), when they realize there is more to life then the latest things.

American and Israeli Jews: Twin Portraits From Pew Research Center Surveys

Jews in Israel generally place themselves into one of four informal categories of Jewish religious identity. These labels – Haredi (ultra-Orthodox), Dati (religious), Masorti (traditional) and Hiloni (secular) – are not connected to formal Jewish organizations or denominations, but instead are loose identity groups (similar, for example, to an American Christian calling herself an “evangelical” rather than a “Southern Baptist”).

Something to look at:Thoughts on the Conversion mess

Israelis are different from Americans – they look you straight in the eyes when they talk to you, and some will tell you what they see.

pg. 124 Vintage Wein by Dr. James David Weiss ISBN 0-899-06-599-6

If you classify American Jews as the Israelis do then the majority are Hiloni and not Reform. They just go for the social events. They care more about Football then the sermon.

“To be a Jew is the greatest privilege,”… “To be unaware of it is the greatest catastrophe — spiritual genocide.”

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis – Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1999.


US Jews ‘more pro-choice than pro-Israel,’ new study says

26 September 2016,

A new report released by the Ruderman Family Foundation found that most American Jews consider a sense of “liberalism” central to their Jewish identity, and their voting patterns this November will gear more toward a concern for “liberal causes” than for Israel.

Arutz Sheva

Conservative Movement to allow membership to non-Jews?

Ben Sales and A7 Staff , 29January2017

Confronted by the growing level of intermarriage in the American Jewish community at large and in many Conservative congregations across the country, along with dwindling memberships, Conservative movement members will be voting on a measure from their umbrella body that would allow congregations to admit non-Jews as members

Jerusalem’s Sephardic chief rabbi… said a new mixed-gender plaza at the Western Wall would constitute an “unforgivable wrong” that will “weaken Jerusalem” and the Jewish people.
The Sephardic chief Rabbi also suggested that if the non-Orthodox’s Jewish lineage was scrutinized “they would find themselves outside” of Judaism.

Elder of Ziyon logo

Elder of Ziyon logo

Hamas’ plan to use NGOs – and liberal Jews – to help destroy Israel

Elder of Ziyon October 08, 2018

Senior Hamas official Ahmad Yousef wants the terror organization to reach out to anti-Zionist Jews of the world – and he has identified the Reform Jews of America as a prime target for his message.

Writing in Al Watan Voice, Yousef says that there were a significant number of anti-Zionist Jews in Europe before World War II who were targets of German security services in the 1920s and their names are now lost in the alleged Holocaust.

He then looks at America: …

Conversation with Rabbi Zevulun Leiberman Z’l 2004


…In the 1990s I had a short-but-memorable conversation with a Jew who was born in Syria and moved to New York City in 1959.

He insisted with great emphasis that when he left Syria in 1959, 99% of Jews in Syria observed Shabbat; and there was NOT EVEN ONE Jew in all of Syria who was a public-Shabbat-desecrator [Mechalel Shabbat Bepharhesia].

Maybe this happened because the Syrian Jews never accepted Reform or Conservative.

There was never a Reform or Conservative Syrian synagogue; only Orthodox.

To quote Vic Rosenthal on March 10, 2016




Two peoples divided by a common religion (Vic Rosenthal)


…the non-Orthodox populations are very different. In Israel, most of them are “hiloni,” usually translated as ‘secular’, and about half as many identify as “masorati” or ‘traditional’ (not to be confused with the tiny Masorati movement, which is the Israeli branch of American Conservative Judaism).
The survey describes Masoratim as holding the “middle ground between Orthodoxy and secularism.” Many Mizrachi Jews put themselves in this category. Although they vary widely in their degree of observance, one example is the man who votes for the ultra-Orthodox Shas party but still drives to the football stadium on Shabbat.

Neither of these groups correspond to anything in American Jewry. Israel’s secular hilonim are overwhelmingly married to other Jews (98%), they tend to be much more knowledgeable about Jewish texts (which they learn in school), they are more likely than unaffiliated American Jews to light candles before Shabbat, keep kosher, or attend a Pesach seder – even though 60% never go to a synagogue, and 40% of them say that they do not believe in God! But 28% of them oppose allowing Reform or Conservative rabbis to perform marriages in Israel, despite the fact that 88% believe that “religion should be kept separate from government policies.”…

Comment: Your average Reform or Conservative member would be classified in Israel as secular hilonim and have nothing to do with the non-Torah movements.
To the Reform: Can you past the Jewish Agency Test of Being Jewish. If the Russian can do it so can You! or is The Sephardic chief Rabbi correct? Take the test and find out Call 1-866-4-ALIYAH and make Aliyah,


Liberman, ‘troubled’ about US Jewry, warns the Diaspora is waning

Citing ‘very grave’ 2013 Pew survey, defense minister urges Jews to ‘pull themselves together’ and strengthen their identity
By Marissa Newman December 16, 2016
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman is “really troubled” about the state of American Jewry, he said Thursday, warning that if Diaspora Jews don’t “pull themselves together,” their ranks will be greatly depleted in less than two generations.“One of the things that really troubles me is the whole issue of Judaism, of the Jewish people in exile,” said Liberman, an avowed secularist politician whose Yisrael Beytenu party has long sought to scale back government intervention in religious affairs.Addressing Russian-speaking Jews at a Limmud FSU conference in the southern city of Eilat, the defense minister specifically voiced concerns about US Jews, citing the 2013 Pew survey that showed — among many things — that one-fifth of American Jews don’t call themselves “Jewish” when asked about their religion, and pegged the overall intermarriage rate at 58 percent, with a whopping 71% among the non-Orthodox.

“Whoever saw the last surveys by the Pew Center, the rates of assimilation, the connection between the new generation in the United States to Judaism — not just Israel –” ought to be concerned, he lamented, adding that more-distant attitudes toward the Jewish state were also worrisome.

“The picture [that emerges from the survey] is very grave,” Liberman warned. “If we don’t pull ourselves together, in a generation and a half, there will be nearly no Jewish people in the Diaspora, apart from Orthodox communities.”

As Israel prepares to approve its two-year budget, the government should allocate funds to strengthening Jewish identity abroad, he continued, noting that while the funds were there, what was lacking was the “priority.”

Israel has long depended the on support of Diaspora Jewry, Liberman added. “Now it is our turn to offer them a hand. For this, too, we can find money.

“We are fighting for the future and the survival of the Jewish people in the entire world — outside of Israel, outside of Orthodoxy,” he proclaimed.

As foreign minister in February 2014, Liberman voiced similar concerns, opining at one point that demographic shifts among global Jewry were a graver threat to the Jewish people than Iran.

“It must become the most pressing issue on the global Jewish agenda, Liberman told the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations that year. “More pressing than the Palestinian negotiations or the Iranian nuclear threat.”

“The Jews of America are facing nothing less than a demographic catastrophe,” he warned.

At the time, Liberman called for the establishment of a “global network of Jewish schools that are superior in standard to the American and international school network.” To reach that goal, he said, the Israeli government should dedicate $365 million per year, a sum he said he hoped Jewish communities in the Diaspora would be willing to match.

As foreign minister, he also said his aim was to convince 3.5 million Diaspora Jews to immigrate to Israel over the next 10 years, “so that the Jewish population in Israel will exceed 10 million.”

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

intermarriage by religious denomination 2013-Pew

intermarriage by religious denomination 2013-Pew

In America, about half of married non-Orthodox Jews have a non-Jewish spouse.

The unaffiliated American Jew is usually the assimilated Jew with no knowledge of Jewish texts or identification with Jewish traditions. And Reform Judaism has separated itself from Orthodoxy and even Conservative Judaism so much – both in practice and in philosophy (think of the Reform concept of tikkun olam as social action) – that those who insist that it is more like a different religion than a kind of Judaism have a cogent argument ….

intermarriage in the US vs. Israel If you want a Jewish spouse and have your children marry Jewish spouses make Aliyah

intermarriage in the US vs. Israel If you want a Jewish spouse and have your children marry Jewish spouses make Aliyah




Non-Torah movements are 1% – 2%? That is a statistically close to ZERO. No Israeli Wants You because you are all talk and no action sitting in your easy chair in America. Except for the non-religious High Court who hate the Haredim and the Politicians that are concerned with getting Money and keeping the “Diaspora Happy”, the Reform and other non Torah “streams” are nothing in Israel.

If you really care about Israel – MAKE ALIYAH!!!! If you want Reform here, Move Here. Stop Crying and Whining and Do Something worthwhile, Make Aliyah Today and live your life in Israel.

Gemara Megillah 6B Germanya,[Germany] a royal province of Edom; who, if they would but go forth, would destroy the entire world.

Gemara Megillah 6B Germanya,[Germany] a royal province of Edom; who, if they would but go forth, would destroy the entire world.

A Purim Warning to American Jews

The Gemara is incredible, it have everything in it. Such as:
Gemara Megillah 6B: Germanya,[Germany] a royal province of Edom; who, if they would but go forth, would destroy the entire world.
This was written 1500 years ago!


Horrific Poway Chabad House Shooting

April 29, 2019 Chabad of Poway, California,
“I’m defending our nation against the Jewish people, who are trying to destroy all white people,” John T. Earnest, who killed One Dead, Three Injured.

Caroline Glick The American Jewish Community’s Moment to Choose

From Pew Research Center

Comparing religious observance among Jews from the former Soviet Union and their children

Remember the Jews were forced into a Communist Anti-religious life where if you were praying you would find yourself in a Soviet Labor Camp or Dead. remember the experience of  Natan Statanski the Soviet Refusenik who wanted to make Aliyah.


Pew 2016.03.08 Comparing religious observance Soviet and their children

Pew 2016.03.08 Comparing religious observance Soviet and their children

First- and second-generation immigrants from the former Soviet Union (FSU) make up roughly one-fifth of Jewish respondents in the Pew Research Center survey; 14% are immigrants and 5% are children of at least one immigrant parent. Overall, Jews who immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union are less religious than Israeli Jews as a whole.

But the survey also finds that second-generation FSU Israelis are considerably more religiously observant than their parents’ generation. When it comes to Jewish subgroups, for example, 60% of those in the second generation say they are Hiloni, compared with 81% of first-generation immigrants. While 4% of first-generation immigrants say they are Haredi, among the second generation, this proportion has climbed to 14%.

Children of FSU immigrants also are much more likely than their parents to believe in God (70% vs. 55%). On this question, second-generation FSU immigrants are closer to Israeli Jews overall, 77% of whom say they believe in God.

Similarly, when it comes to Jewish religious practices such as lighting Sabbath candles, keeping kosher, holding or attending a traditional Seder and studying the Torah, children of FSU immigrants are considerably more active than the first generation. For example, children of FSU immigrants are about twice as likely as their parents to keep kosher, both in their home (50% vs. 24%) and outside their home (35% vs. 19%). And while about four-in-ten first-generation immigrants from the former Soviet Union (42%) say they eat pork, only 17% of second-generation FSU immigrants say they personally do so.

Pew 2016.03.08 Hillonim lights Shabbat candles

Hillonim lights Shabbat candles

Pew 2016.03.08 israeli jews more observant

[The American Style of Orthodox is more like 49% of the Israeli Jews]

Israeli Jews more observant than U.S. Jews

Share of Jews who are Orthodox is twice as large in Israel as in the U.S.

Although they share the same religion, Israeli Jews and U.S. Jews often do not practice Judaism the same way. Israeli Jews themselves range from very religious to secular, but they are, on average, more religiously observant than American Jews.

One driver of the religiosity gap between Israeli Jews and U.S. Jews is the fact that Orthodox Jews make up about one-in-five Jews in Israel (22%) but only one-in-ten Jewish adults in the United States (10%). In both countries, Orthodox Jews tend to be far more religiously observant than other Jews.

Israeli Jews more likely than U.S. Jews to observe Jewish rituals and practices

Israeli Jews are more observant than U.S. Jews. Overall, Israeli Jews display more religious involvement than U.S. Jews on several measures. Roughly a quarter (27%) say they attend religious services at least weekly, more than double the share of American Jews who say the same (11%). Israeli Jews also are somewhat more likely than U.S. Jews to say religion is very important in their lives (30% vs. 26%), and considerably more likely to say they believe in God with absolute certainty (50% vs. 34%) and that they believe God gave Israel to the Jewish people (61% vs. 40%).

Additionally, Jews in Israel report more frequent participation in specific Jewish practices than do Jews in the U.S. For example, 56% of Israeli Jews say someone in their home always or usually lights Sabbath candles on Friday night, compared with 23% of U.S. Jews who say the same. Roughly six-in-ten Jews in Israel (63%) say they keep kosher in their home, nearly three times the share of American Jews who do this (22%). Israeli Jews also are more likely than U.S. Jews to say they hosted or attended a Seder for Passover (93% vs. 70%) and fasted all day on Yom Kippur (60% vs. 40%) in the last year.

Comment: In Israel the Holiday Shopping starts at lest 30 Day before the Holiday. The Store Ads and Specials are for all the Holidays, not just the major holidays like Rosh Hashana and Pesach (Passover).  Holidays like Chanukah, Shavuot, Purim, Tu B’Shevat, and Lag B’Omer along with other holidays like Yom HaAtzmaut, and Yom Yerushalayim are celebrated with great joy and happiness. There is the weekly reminder of being Jewish every week with Shabbat, both shopping and cooking for Shabbat and Shabbat itself. Do you have that in the States?

Arutz Sheva

29% of Israelis identify with Religious Zionism, poll shows

Arutz Sheva Staff, 10/05/18

A new survey found that over 29% percent of Israeli Jews identify with the values associated with Religious Zionism, despite not being religiously observant themselves in what is another sign of Religious Zionism’s growing influence across Israeli society….

“These figures show us that every third citizen in Israel sees himself as belonging to the values of religious Zionism, regardless of whether he observes Torah and mitzvot,” said Unity Conference organizers. “Our public has a very strong moral statement that attracts other audiences, and it obligates us to consider this.”

Researchers at the Israel Democracy Institute, who first identified the phenomenon, said Religious Zionism’s influence currently rivals the power wielded by the kibbutz movement in the early years of the state. During Israel’s first three decades, the Kibbutz movement was a major center of influence despite being less than 10% of the population and many Israelis identified with its values.

YNet Logo youth more right-wing, more religious, concerned about security

Sherry Makover-Balikov|:  05.12.17,7340,L-4961121,00.html

A comprehensive study examines the attitudes of Israeli youth and young adults in 2017; 67% of them define themselves as right-wing, 40% are defined as secular, and nearly half of the Jews are pessimistic about the future.
Sherry Makover-Balikov|Published:  12May2017

Israel’s young population is becoming more right-wing and more religious: 67 percent of Jewish youth in Israel today define themselves as right-wing, while only 16 percent associate themselves with the left. These are just some of the dramatic findings of a large-scale study conducted among young Israelis, and its results were published in the 7 Days supplement of Yedioth Ahronoth on Friday.

Since 1998, the Macro Center for Political Economics and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung fund in Israel have conducted in-depth studies of Israeli youth (ages 15–18) and young people (21–24) of all sectors in Israel. The current study, the fourth in the series, revealed that while in 1998 nearly half of the country’s youth defined themselves as secular and only 9 percent were ultra-Orthodox, now, only 40 percent define themselves as secular while the percentage of Haredim jumped to 15 percent….

73.9 percent of Jewish youth believe that the most important problem that the government must deal with is the cost of living. In the event of a conflict between democracy and defense needs, 82 percent of young Jews aged 21–24 will prefer security needs….

Jewish Pride, Connectedness and Responsibility in America

In the United States, younger Jews express lower levels of emotional attachment to Israel than do older Jews. Among Jews in Israel, however, the new survey finds few, if any, significant differences by age in attitudes toward U.S. Jews.
Israeli and American Jews also feel similar connections to the Jewish people more broadly defined. More than nine-in-ten in both groups say they are proud to be Jewish. Three-quarters or more of Jews in both countries say they feel a strong sense of belonging to the Jewish people (88% in Israel, 75% in the U.S.). And more than half of Jews in Israel (55%) and a solid majority in the United States (63%) say they feel a special responsibility to care for fellow Jews in need around the world.
From: If American Jews and Israel Are Drifting Apart, What’s the Reason? by Elliott Abrams

 “[T]he disappearance of the sort of ethnic solidarity that prior generations enjoyed as a matter of course . . . [and] our high intermarriage rate . . . means that Jews of the next generation will increasingly be people with no childhood Jewish memories and no obvious reason to maintain Jewish friends, associations, and causes at the expense of non-Jewish ones.”reform rabbi Lawrence Hoffman,….

Similar findings relate to the sense of Jewish peoplehood. According to the Pew study, only 20 percent of Jews with a non-Jewish spouse say they are raising their children exclusively as Jews. When asked if they have a strong sense of belonging to the Jewish people, only 59 percent say yes—as against 92 percent of those married to Jews—and only 49 percent say they feel a special responsibility to care for Jews in need—as against 80 percent of those married to Jews.

The American Jewish community is more distant from Israel than in past generations because it is changing, is in significant ways growing weaker, and is less inclined and indeed less able to feel and express solidarity with other Jews here and abroad.

Arutz Sheva

Interior Minister: No recognition for Reform Movement

Arutz Sheva Staff, 06/12/16

Aryeh Deri told a delegation of 100 Sephardic Rabbis that granting recognition to the Reform Movement would harm the Jewish people.

Deri criticized the Reform Movement during his speech. “I am asked, ‘Why fight for Jewish causes? Why don’t you make a compromise for the Western Wall…or on conversions?”

He said that granting recognition to progressive Jewish Movements that do not follow halacha (Jewish law) would only harm the Jewish people in the long run.

“If we want the Jewish people to be united then we need to strengthen it around something that has united it for years: the Torah of the Jewish people,” Deri said.

“Any recognition by the Knesset of communities with a different type of observance of Judaism will create questions that you will have to deal with, which come from recognizing something that is not the Torah of the Jewish people,” he added.

Arutz Sheva

US Reform standards are not even recognized by your own movement in Israel.

Perhaps US Reform Jewry should check into the movement’s practices in Israel before fighting for recognition.
David Bedein, 05/10/16
What gets little attention is the fact that the Israeli Reform Movement is far different from its American partner.

The Israeli Reform Movement does not recognize “patrilineal descent” as a legitimate determinant of Jewish identity. American Reform does.
Reform Jews in Israel, like halakhic Jews, recognize Jewish identity through the mother, not the father.

Nor does Israeli Reform Judaism allow interfaith marriage. American Reform does. American Conservative synagogues accept non-Jewish spouses of members and allow interfaith dating in USY, their youth movement.

Yet the standard report in the media is that the Orthodox Jewish establishment stands alone in rejecting Reform Jewish religious practice abroad.

The American Reform Movement has separated itself not only from Israeli Jews who follow normative customs and laws of Jewish tradition.

You have separated yourselves from Reform Jews in Israel.

Sophia’s the pomeranian’s Bark Mitzvah w/Lee Day & Rabbi Otis on Nat Geo Wild Spoiled Rotten Pets


“The ‘Bots Are Coming For The Priests”

Tyler Durden 17September2019 – 17:45

Via Global Macro Monitor,

Good, God!

  • A mechanical ‘priest’ has recently begun conducting Buddhist prayers in Japan. It is not the first attempt to deliver religious teachings and advice through the use of a programmed machine.
  • And Catholic Christians may soon find spiritual advice from a tiny 40-cm robot SanTO, developed by Gabriele Trovato, a roboticist and assistant professor at Japan’s Waseda University, after Trovato finishes perfecting his device in Peru.
  • In Germany, there is a BlessU-2 robot that looks like a hybrid between an ATM terminal and US comic Jeff Dunham’s puppet of Ahmed the Dead Terrorist. The robot is reportedly designed to engage in philosophical debates about the future of religion and the potential of artificial intelligence. – Sputnik International

Just think of the coming spike in moral dilemmata.

Here’s one, for example.

  1. Does confessing sins of adultery with a sex robot to a robotic priest absolve you of sin?
  2. Is the affair with the robot adultery?

[Is this what Reform Judaism has turning into?]

If you want to be a Proud Jew, Move here. Move to Israel and Make Aliyah Today.

It’s time to come home! Nefesh B’Nefesh: Live the Dream 1-866-4-ALIYAH UK 0800 075 7200 Come home to the Land of Emuna

Nefesh B'Nefesh: Live the Dream US & CAN 1-866-4-ALIYAH | UK 020-8150-6690 or 0800-085-2105 | Israel 02-659-5800

Nefesh B’Nefesh: Live the Dream US & CAN 1-866-4-ALIYAH | UK 020-8150-6690 or 0800-085-2105 | Israel 02-659-5800

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Pew 2016.03.08 Proud to be Jews

Pew 2016.03.08 Proud to be Jews

In Israel Jews feel pride, connectedness and responsibility in Jewish community

Across different age groups and educational, ethnic and religious backgrounds, the vast majority of Jews in Israel agree that they are proud to be Jewish and have a strong sense of belonging to the Jewish people. And more than half of Jews in Israel (55%) say they have a special responsibility to take care of Jews in need around the world.
Fully 93% of Israeli Jews say they are proud to be Jewish. Haredi and Dati Jews almost universally say this (>99%), as do virtually all Masorti Jews (98%). Somewhat fewer Hilonim say this – however, 88% still say they are proud of this aspect of their identity.
Similarly, while Russian-speaking Jews are somewhat less likely than Hebrew- or Yiddish- speaking Jews to express pride in being Jewish, majorities among all three groups say they are proud to be Jewish.
Overwhelmingly, Israeli Jews have a strong sense of belonging to the Jewish people. Fully 88% of Jews in Israel – including majorities in all four major religious subgroups – say they feel closely connected to the Jewish people.

Examples of Israeli Pride helping the world

War veterans suffering post-traumatic stress in the US; farmers in Senegal, India and China; young women in South Sudan; the wheelchair-bound in Africa; cardiac patients in Gaza and Iraq – all have received life-changing help and expertise from Israeli specialists.

Today we all know the story of Israel the startup nation. News of its technological prowess and incredible innovation has spread far and wide. But what many people don’t know is that Israel is exporting far more than just technology. It is also sharing its experience and skills in a whole range of humanitarian and environmental fields to help people everywhere live better, fuller and healthier lives.

Since Israel was founded in 1948, the country has set itself the goal of becoming a light unto the nations. In the early years of the state, despite austerity rationing, the Israeli government founded MASHAV, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Center for International Cooperation, as a vehicle to share Israel’s creative solutions with the rest of the developing world.

Israel remains true to that vision and every year, with little fanfare, and sometimes very little press attention, Israelis work long hours to find solutions and offer relief to some of the most pressing problems of our times.

From environmental breakthroughs that will help reduce greenhouse emissions, to technologies that can increase food production and save vital crops, to humanitarian aid missions in the wake of catastrophic natural disasters, Israelis are providing significant assistance.

Arutz Sheva

84% of Israelis agreed with the sentence, “Diaspora Jews and Israeli Jews share a destiny, even though they live in different countries.”

Yoni Kempinski, 18/12/16

A new study done in honor of the Week of Connection to Diaspora Jewry shows how deep the connection between Israel’s Jews and Diaspora Jews really is.

84% of Israeli Jews agreed Judaism (not including Torah observance) meant being part of a larger group of people who share roots and history, and 80% felt Diaspora Jews were their brothers.

Israel’s Population Bomb is Disappearing:

by Elliott Abrams November 16, 2016

Everyone knows that because Arab population growth rates in Israel and the West Bank far exceed Jewish ones, the percentage of the population that is not Jewish will rise steadily.  The only problem with that statement is that it is not true.

As The Times of Israel has just reported,

The fertility rates of Jewish and Arab women were identical for the first time in Israeli history in 2015, according to figures released by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday….Jewish and Arab women had given birth to an average of 3.13 children as of last year….

The explanation is a sharp drop in Arab Israeli birth rates while Jewish birth rates have been rising: “In 2000, the fertility among the country’s Arab population stood at 4.3 children per woman, while the fertility rate of Jewish women was 2.6. Since then the gap has narrowed as the Arab rate dropped off and the Jewish fertility rates steadily increased.”

This high fertility rate is not simply an artifact of Israel’s growing ultra-Orthodox or Haredi population; the non-Haredi fertility rate is 2.6.  (This is, by the way, a far higher fertility rate than that of American Jews, which is 1.9; the replacement rate is 2.3.) The overall Israeli Jewish fertility rate of 3.13 also suggests that the population balance between Israel and the West Bank will not change: “Palestinian fertility on the West Bank has already fallen to the Israeli fertility rate of three children per woman, if we believe the Palestine Ministry of Health numbers rather than the highly suspect Central Bureau of Statistics data. In 1963, Israeli Arab women had eight or nine children; today they have three, about the same as Israeli Jews.”

What are the political implications? Whatever they are, the debate must begin with facts rather than assumptions–including facts about population growth.

Arutz Sheva

The Haredim total fertility rate is 6.9 vs. 2.1 for Hiloni and US Reform of 1.4

Haredim to surpass Arab population by 2050

David Rosenberg, 11/08/16
More than 1/3 of Jewish population will be haredi by 2059, with more than 4 million haredim in Israel.
Secular Jews, presently the largest group in Israel, have maintained a stable total fertility rate (TFR) – the number of children born per woman on average – just at the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman, a figure that is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.

The birthrate among traditional Jews has increased marginally over the past decade, rising from 2.2 in 2005 to 2.6 in 2014. Among traditional-religious Jews the rate is slightly higher, rising from 2.6 in 2005 to 3.0 in 2014.

For non-haredi religious Jews, the TFR has remained stable at 4.2.

But with a TFR of 6.9, the haredi population’s growth rate is more than double the total Jewish TFR of 3.1 and even the Arab TFR of 3.3.
By 2024, the study predicts, haredim will make up 14% of the Israeli population, rising to 19% by 2039, and 27% by 2059. At that point haredim will be a whopping 35% of the total Jewish population, outnumbering the secular, traditional, traditional-religious, and religious sectors.


Pew 2016.03.08 Haredim have more children

Pew 2016.03.08 Haredim have more children


Pew 2016.03.08 Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel.

Pew 2016.03.08 Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel.

Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel How would you transfer a hostile Arab population? According to the Pew Research Center

Israeli Jews divided on the status of Arabs

Israeli Jews are divided on the question of whether Arabs should be allowed to live in the Jewish state. The survey asked Jews whether they strongly agree, agree, disagree or strongly disagree with the statement that “Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel.”

Ashkenazi, Mizrahi or Sephardi? Jewish ethnic identity in Israel

Israeli Jews are nearly evenly split between two Jewish ethnic identity groups – the Ashkenazim (45%) and the Sephardim or Mizrahim (48%). These two ethnic groups retain some distinct religious practices and cultural traditions associated with their ancestral roots. The chief rabbinate in Israel consists of two rabbis – one who is Ashkenazi and the other Sephardi.

The Ashkenazim (from the Hebrew term for Germany, Ashkenaz) trace their roots mainly to central and eastern Europe. (Indeed, a quarter of Israeli Ashkenazim say they speak primarily Russian at home.) Sephardim and Mizhrahim vary widely in their ancestral origin – from Spain’s Iberian Peninsula to the Middle East and Central Asia. Mizrahi (from Mizrah, meaning eastern in Hebrew) often is used interchangeably with Sephardi (or Sfaradit, meaning Spanish in Hebrew). Sephardim and Mizrahim have similar religious traditions and practices, distinct from those of the Ashkenazim. Sephardim typically trace their roots to ancestors who lived in Spain until they were expelled during the Spanish Inquisition. The Sephardim then migrated eastward and lived largely among the Mizrahim in the Middle East and North Africa.

Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews are, on average, more religiously observant than their Ashkenazi counterparts. Fully two-thirds of Ashkenazim identify as secular (Hiloni) Jews, compared with about three-in-ten of Sephardim/Mizrahim (32%). A plurality of Sephardim/Mizrahim (42%) identify as Masortim.

Over the course of Israel’s modern history, the Sephardi/Mizrahi community has experienced problems with discrimination and marginalization.16 This survey finds, however, that a majority of Sephardi/Mizrahi Jews say there is not currently a lot of discrimination against Mizrahim in Israeli society (32% say there is a lot, 64% say there is not). However, it should be noted that Sephardim/Mizrahim are significantly more likely than Ashkenazim to say that Mizrahim face a lot of discrimination (32% vs. 9%).

Overall, the survey finds Ashkenazim in Israel are more likely than Sephardim/Mizrahim to give priority to their Israeli identity over their Jewish identity. Fully 42% of Ashkenazim say they are Israeli first and Jewish second, compared with 27% of Sephardim/Mizrahim who say this. While Ashkenazim are closely divided among those who say they are Israeli first and those who say they are Jewish first, among Sephardim/Mizrahim, the prevailing view is that they are Jewish first (53%).

Aliyah: Immigration to Israel

Aliyah, meaning ascent in Hebrew, is a term commonly used to describe Jewish immigration to Israel. From the late 1800s until 1939, there were five major waves of immigration to the land that would later become the State of Israel. These waves had distinct ethnic, socioeconomic and historical characteristics, from the largely Russian and Romanian wave that formed the first aliyah (1882-1903) to the fifth aliyah – also known as the German Aliyah – which took place in the period leading up to World War II (1929-1939).23 ). Immigrants to Israel prior to the establishment of the State of Israel were collectively known as the yishuv, or settlement. Although the naming of aliyah cohorts largely ended in 1939, the use of the word aliyah to describe Jewish immigration to the land of Israel continued.

There have been several points in Israel’s modern history when waves of immigrants arrived from particular countries or regions. For example, between 1949 and 1950, in what came to be known as kanfey nesharim, or Operation On Eagles’ Wings, the State of Israel airlifted nearly 50,000 Yemeni Jews to Israel. Similarly, the State of Israel conducted two airlifts in Ethiopia – Operation Moses in the mid-1980s and Operation Solomon in 1991. (The survey did not include enough interviews with either Yemeni Jews or Ethiopian Jews to analyze those groups separately.)

A large wave of immigration from the former Soviet Union began in 1989. In the early 1990s, nearly 800,000 immigrants arrived in Israel from the former Soviet Union (FSU).24 ). In this survey, about three-quarters of Jewish respondents from the former Soviet Union made aliyah between 1990 and 1999. An additional 15% of FSU Jews say they made aliyah from 2000 to 2014, while a similar share (12%) say they made aliyah prior to 1990. Most immigrants from the former Soviet Union (73%) say they continue to primarily speak Russian at home. For more information about immigration from the former Soviet Union, see this sidebar in chapter 5

Who is included in the survey?

Pew 2016.03.08 Israeli Census Districts

Pew 2016.03.08 Israeli Census Districts

The survey includes interviews with citizens and residents living within the boundaries of Israel, as defined in the 2008 census conducted by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics. Jews were surveyed in all six census districts (Jerusalem, North, Haifa, Center, Tel Aviv and South) and in the West Bank.
Jewish residents of all areas categorized as “Judea and Samaria” (West Bank) by the Central Bureau of Statistics were eligible to be included in the sample. Some examples of West Bank communities where interviews were conducted include Beit Arye, Elkana, Ma’ale Adumim and Giv’at Ze’ev.

How religious groups are defined

The 2015 Pew Research Center survey of Israel includes interviews with 3,789 Jews, 871 Muslims, 468 Christians and 439 Druze. An additional 34 respondents belong to other religions or are religiously unaffiliated.
Respondents are analyzed as part of these religious groups based on their response to the following question: “What is your present religion, if any? Are you Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Druze, another religion or no religion?”
All respondents classified as Muslims, Christians and Druze in this study identified themselves as such in response to the religious identity question. The vast majority of Jews (3,725) also said they are Jewish when asked about their religion. In addition, 64 respondents who identified as having “no religion” said, in response to a subsequent question, that they consider themselves Jewish aside from religion and had a Jewish upbringing (they were either raised Jewish in some way or had at least one Jewish parent). These respondents, who make up roughly 2% of the total Jewish sample, are classified as Jewish in this survey.
This approach parallels the methods used to define Jews in Pew Research Center’s 2013 survey of U.S. Jews, which included interviews with 3,475 Jewish respondents. But unlike in Israel, where the vast majority of Jews identified as Jewish by religion, in the U.S. survey roughly one-in-five Jews said they have no religion but that they consider themselves Jewish aside from religion and had a Jewish parent or upbringing.

The Mitzvah to Live in Eretz Yisrael

One should always live in the Land of Israel, even in a city where the majority are idol worshippers, and not in chutz la Aretz, even in a city where the majority are Jews. (Kesubos 110); also included in the Rambam (Hilchos Melachim Chapter 5)

Said the Holy One Blessed be He: A small group in the Land of Israel is dearer to Me than a full Sanhedrin outside the Land. (Yerushalmi, Sanhedrin 86)

There are ten measures of Torah in the world. Nine are in Eretz Israel. and one in the rest of the world. (Esther Rabba)

Better is a dry piece of bread with tranquility in it than a house full of quarrelsome feasts (Mishle 17:1): Better is a dry piece of bread with tranquility in it: R. Yochanan said, “This refers to Eretz Israel, for even if a person eats (dry) bread and salt every day while dwelling in Eretz Israel, he is assured a portion in the World to Come…Than a house full of quarrelsome feasts: This refers to Chutz LaAretz, which is full of violence and robbery.” (Yalkut Shimoni 2:956)

Settling Eretz Israel is a Mitzvah that encompasses all the Torah, for all those who walk in it four Amot have a portion in the World to Come which is all life. (Or ha Chayim ha Kaddosh Devarim 30:20)

“It is preferable to dwell in the deserts of Eretz Israel than the palaces of Chutz LaAretz” (Bereshit Rabba 39:8).

Was It Worth It? [living in America]


The day we decided to win

Emily Amrousi  10July2016

On the day that the State of Israel decided to win, infantry units entered schools in the Palestinian Authority, confiscated all the existing textbooks and left in their place piles of freshly printed Arabic textbooks. Paratroopers took down the monuments in memory of martyrs that stood at the entrances to villages, and soldiers in the Intelligence Corps set up digital whiteboards and computers in all the classrooms.

On the day that we decided to win, we left the murderers without a community: The imams in the mosques were disconnected from their microphones; Palestinian television was taken off the air; and anyone who made a post in the evening inciting to murder had their water turned off by the following morning. Those praising the murderers were arrested and put on trial. The echoing voice that led the propaganda movement, calling Jews rats and pigs, rapists and murderers, was put to rest.

On that day, when Israel decided to win, we were sorry for the Palestinian who helped the children of the Mark family when they were injured in a terrorist attack and then had to appear in interviews with his face blurred and his voice distorted. We began to understand the culture of death in which he lives: There are many Israelis, including settlers, who help Palestinians, and none of them have to hide their faces.

On the day that we decided to win, we carried out thousands of demolition orders for illegal buildings in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria. We prevented the transfer of funds to security prisoners. We entered Palestinian Authority territory as needed. We did not enter when it was not necessary. We were sovereign.
We spread out a map of the land and marked large swathes of it for construction. Tens of thousands of housing units in Jerusalem, in the greater Jerusalem area, on the way from the capital city to the Dead Sea, between Gush Dan and the Jordan Valley. In Ariel and Maaleh Adumim, in Beit El and in Gush Etzion. The bubble burst and real estate prices dropped throughout the nation. On the day that we decided to win, we stopped the trial of Elor Azaria; a circus of a trial that has left an IDF soldier alone in the ring. Azaria went home, exhausted and free.

On the day that we decided to win, we made the decision to destroy terrorists’ homes with no advance warning. We deported the families of terrorists. We wrapped the bodies or terrorists in pig skin. “They’ve gone crazy,” everyone said. Yes, we had already gone crazy, when they murdered a young girl in her bed.

* * *

On the day that we decide to win, we will also decide to allow the outpost of Amona to remain intact. This community’s fate — to be demolished by the end of the year — is not just about the dozens of families that have been living there for the last 20 years, rather it is an Israeli story.

The residents are not thieves. The vast majority of the landowners registered in the Ottoman and Jordanian documents cannot be found, making the land “absentee property.” Some left the country or died without heirs, and some cannot be identified because they used fake names for tax purposes. In recent years, a small number of the owners have been found, and they did not even know about their ownership of the land until the left-wing organization Yesh Din intervened. A plot here, a plot there, scattered among Jewish homes, between the grapevines and the fig trees.

The residents are offering additional compensation to anyone proven to be a landowner now and in the future. The High Court of Justice is asking that the whole settlement be bulldozed. If this small and beautiful outpost is ordered to be demolished, all the other settlements and kibbutzim established on land owned by Arabs prior to 1948 are also in danger. This is what logic would say and what history would determine. If Amona goes down, why should Shefayim remain?

Yossi Klein Halevi
Arutz Sheva

Thoughts on the Conversion mess

R. Haskel Lookstein’s conversions, Ivanka Trump’s halakhic status, demands by “Open Orthodox” rabbis for Israel to recognize their private decentralized conversions, wildcat actions of outlier rabbis – and the unity of the Jewish People.

Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer, 13July2016

Several years ago, I was invited to participate as the Orthodox rabbi on a three-rabbi panel with one of the most prominent and deeply respected Reform rabbis in Southern California and with a counterpart Conservative rabbi who also commands substantial respect and prestige. The topic was the Orthodox rabbinate’s predominant role in Israel on matters of conversion to Judaism, and the venue was Valley Beth Shalom, the predominant Conservative/Reconstructionist temple in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles.

I was warned politely by the people who invited me that the congregation would be coming to “eat me alive” and that two other Orthodox rabbis had been invited before me but respectfully had declined.

I accepted eagerly. Although at the time I still had never joined a Board of Rabbis, my poskim (rabbinic decisors) permitted such engagements where the opportunity arose to speak with, meet, listen to, engage, and educate other Jews, and to expose them to Shomer Shabbat (normative Orthodox Sabbath observant) rabbis and personalities.

The debate’s format began with each of us serially presenting an initial ten-minute overview of our respective perspectives on conversion. Then there would be questions from a moderator. And, finally, questions from the floor.

The Reform rabbi began. He explained how he does conversions, his views that a conversion must come from the heart and need not include mikvah or circumcision, and he generally berated “the Orthodox” but in a very dignified manner. The Conservative rabbi followed and presented his views, expectations, and requirements, and he also expressed great dismay over the Orthodox rabbinate’s control in Israel. Both rabbis echoed a common theme: “Who are these rabbis in Israel to say that our conversions are not valid?”

It next was my turn.

I began by turning to the Conservative rabbi and asked him: “You just heard [Reform] Rabbi [X] say that he does conversions that often do not include mikvah or circumcision for men. I just heard you say that, by contrast, you do require those rites as part of conversion. Therefore, I am wondering: If someone comes to your temple and asks to be counted in your minyan, telling you that he has been converted to Judaism by our esteemed Reform colleague and good mutual friend, but without a circumcision or mikvah, would you recognize that conversion?”

The Conservative rabbi did not even pause before answering. Knowing his ethics, I was not surprised when he responded straightforwardly: “No, I could not accept such a conversion.”

That was my presentation that night. The rest of the evening was spent listening to the Reform rabbi challenging the Conservative rabbi for refusing to recognize his conversions, the Conservative rabbi explaining his standards and why he could not accept those conversions, and me eating the cookies on the dais. Most of the questions from the moderator and the audience continued on that theme. I was younger then, and I may have eaten all the cookies while they battled.

The American Mess

The conversion situation in America is out of control, with thousands of non-Jews presenting conversion documents from Reform and Conservative — and also some profoundly unscrupulous Orthodox-denominated — rabbis, who have “converted” them in processes that have no halakhic bases whatsoever. The Reform rabbis are acting in the best of good faith and deep honor. They truly believe they are acting correctly. Same with the Conservative rabbis. They expend great effort to teach. It is serious for them, no joke. They have real curricula, reading lists, standards, and expectations. However, for others who truly believe in halakhic requirements for conversion, those standards are not met in most, if not all, cases.

There also are unscrupulous rabbis denominated as Orthodox who run specious wildcat “conversion factories.” Their standards border on the bogus, and their fees trample the conscience. Armed with ordination and unable to find income at a synagogue pulpit, yeshiva or day school faculty, community or outreach organization, or kosher-certifying agency, they ply their trade among a clientele including the most innocently unsuspecting and the most cynically cognizant.

I think back to the case of the Israeli professional basketball team, bridled by their league rule limiting the amount of foreigners whom league teams can import for their squads. The league did not want Israeli basketball simply to be a haven for NBA rejects. So the team arranged for an American non-Jew to be insta-converted by an American Orthodox rabbi and then to have that character gain Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return. Now an “Israeli,” he could be on the team without counting against the foreigner quota. It worked like a charm until the guy found out that, as a full-fledged Israeli, he now had to fight in Tzahal, the Israeli armed forces. A decade later, he was convicted in America of conspiracy to import heroin, importation of heroin, and possession of heroin with intent to distribute and was sentenced to ten years prison. Kiddush!

In yesteryear, not everyone was getting intermarried and converted. Times have changed. Today, more than fifty percent of American Jews “marry out.” For many of those intermarrying, there is Jewish parental pressure on the non-Jewish spouse to convert. To the degree that the non-Jewish spouse is not intensely wedded to any religion anyway, the sense is: “Sure, OK, if it makes your parents happy. I don’t want you being written out of your parents’ wills.” Thus, a conversion is pursued. Where the couple are not driven by any particular halakhic motivation but instead are impelled by parental pressure or a sense that they both should associate with the same system for the kids whom they will bear or have borne, the much-easier step is a non-halakhic conversion. Many fewer demands, much speedier timetable — although much more expensive. And so it goes . . . in the thousands.

Consider America’s immigration laws. Let’s leave all the Democrat-Republican politics out of it, all the rhetoric about “sanctuary cities” and “building walls” and “anchor babies” and “dreamers,” and let’s just focus on Title 8 of the United States Code. For all the political tension over immigration, we rarely if ever read or hear of a federal judge making up her own laws of immigration and granting United States citizenship to people who have not complied with the federal statutory requirements. Imagine the utter chaos if judges in one state followed one set of immigration statutes while those of other states each followed their own rules.

America does not work that way. We all follow Title 8. If someone is granted citizenship in California, that status is good for all fifty states. Moreover — again leaving out politics — all federal judges swear an oath of fealty to the same Constitution and to adhere to its laws. Therefore, although individual judges may differ as thinking human beings, there is a sense that everyone, regardless of agenda, is playing on the same field with the same ground rules.

Jewish conversion should work that way, too. It needs to work that way. Otherwise, we truly lose our peoplehood. Taking all politics aside, if an Orthodox Jew by definition truly believes in halakha, then she needs to marry a Jew. And if a man has converted to Judaism in a manner outside the halakhic framework, conducted by a judicial panel — a Bet Din — who are not committed to the Halakha Constitution and to all its statutory requirements, then that Jewish woman cannot marry that converted fellow because he simply is not halakhically Jewish.

When the situation affects an outlier person here or there, the matter can be managed privately and sensitively. However, once the society reaches a point where thousands of such converts are presenting as “full Jews,” chaos ensues for those non-political individuals trying to adhere to halakhah. “You tell me you are Jewish, and you believe you are Jewish, and I eagerly want to believe you are Jewish, and half a century ago the odds were that you probably are Jewish — but today it is chaos.”

What with the non-Jewish children of unconverted non-Jewish moms presenting as “patrilineal Jews” because they have a Jewish Dad who promised to rear them as Jews, and with converts who did not go to a mikvah or never accepted the Divinity of the Oral and Written Torah or never accepted the personal undertaking of the halakhic lifestyle — or whatever — it is utter chaos.

And there are mighty ramifications. May an halakhic Jew marry someone who believes he is Jewish but is not? May a patrilineal be counted in an Orthodox minyan? Given a Torah aliyah? May a person converted outside the rubric of halakhah be so denominated? It is a mess. It is such a mess that applicants to yeshiva day schools now are asked respectfully to provide grandparents’ identifications because once a child enters a yeshiva and gets a diploma after twelve years of yeshiva, many would assume without asking that the person is an halakhic Jew.

We desperately are endeavoring to avoid so severe a schism that we truly become two separate peoples, unable to marry. Thus, all Jews are Jews — Reform Jews, Conservative Jews, Reconstructionist Jews, agnostic and atheist Jews — but non-Jews are not Jews.

Whose Conversion Is This — the Convert’s or the Rabbi’s?

Until 2006, I did as did virtually all my Orthodox colleagues among shul (synagogue) rabbis. When approached for conversion, I taught, mentored, and eventually helped the prospective Ger (convert) reach the moment of Giyur (conversion). At that point, I gathered two rabbinical colleagues, and we supervised the mikvah and, for men, circumcision (or hatafat dam) requirement. Our converts all were taught halakhic requirements, and we did not conclude the process until we were as certain as three humans can be that the prospective Ger thenceforth would live an halakhically observant life.

That decentralized system worked well for the local shul rabbi, but it increasingly left the prospective Ger exposed. In an era of completely chaotic American conversions, the Ger’s proof that her conversion was halakhically kosher was the certificate presented by the local shul rabbi and his two colleagues. If the rabbi was known and respected, that worked fine. But what if the rabbi were not known outside his hamlet? In an era of conversion chaos, what if a Ger would present papers in another city or state where the converting Bet Din was unknown?

Typically, the rabbi in the new location would call the rabbi who had conducted the conversion and confirm his halakhic fealty in a brief phone call or noting where he was practicing. It would not be sufficient merely to check that the converting rabbi was a member of one or another Orthodox rabbinical association, although that would help. But what if the rabbis on the certificate could not be found? What if they had passed away? What if they had passed away thirty years earlier? Fifty years earlier? How check them?

Indeed, what if the shuls where they had been rabbi no longer existed? Or what if the shuls had changed halakhic practice over time?

Chaos. And if that chaos is bemusing within the United States, imagine an Israeli rabbinate trying to figure out who the rabbi in America was, what his halakhic standards were.

In 2006, recognizing the growing problem that the conversion chaos in America was causing and the need for a more formally structured procedure to help the Israeli Chief Rabbinate ferret more efficiently to determine with maximal certainty the kashrut of respective people’s halakhic conversions in America years earlier, the Rabbinical Council of America and the Israeli Chief Rabbinate entered into a formal agreement known as the Geirus Policies and Standards Network (GPS). See, e.g.,

Under that system, anyone who wishes to convert to Judaism according to halakhah after 2006 can do so with a rabbi who is registered with and who works in tandem with a Bet Din recognized as part of the RCA’s GPS network. For example, on the West Coast the GPS Bet Din is the Rabbinical Council of California. All conversions I have sponsored since the day that GPS began are sponsored under the RCA’s GPS rubric. I mentor and sponsor converts, but I do not “sign off” on conversions.

This new GPS system has taken away some of my authority and my formerly decentralized power to direct the tempo of the conversion process. I now serve more as the local shul rabbi supervising and teaching, but I voluntarily have ceded some of my “power and authority” by agreeing to conform to the GPS system.

How does it feel for me to be presented with this limitation on my authority?

Frankly, I am satisfied that my feelings utterly do not matter. My “power and authority” in this area do not matter. The Giyur (conversion) is not about me; it is about the Ger. Now, the person who converts halakhically under my sponsorship does not have to worry about whether the Chief Rabbinate has heard of rabbi Dov Fischer of California. They do not worry whether their great grandchildren will have to document who the converting rabbi was a century earlier. Rather, they have the peace of knowing that the conversion carries the rubric of the Rabbinical Council of California, a participating GPS Bet Din. The conversion is about them, not me.

Dealing with Pre-2006 / Wildcats / Independents

Even as the RCA and Chief Rabbinate coordinated to solve a central aspect of the conversion problem to assure greater equanimity for Gerim who convert as of 2006, they also addressed the matter of kosher conversions that pre-dated the launching of GPS. When someone who converted halakhically before 2006 seeks to have that decentralized kosher conversion recognized and accepted in Israel today, the person applies to the Rabbinical Council of America’s Bet Din of America (BDA) for a certification of the past conversion’s kashrut.

The RCA’s BDA then conducts a proper and comparatively efficient investigation by contacting the sponsoring rabbi at the time, asking predictable questions, and confirming that the conversion was done k’das u-k’din. When that rabbi is not available — perhaps he even is not alive anymore — the BDA investigates in other manners, contacting those who knew that rabbi, determining that rabbi’s bonafides from his career, considering where he got his semikha (ordination), where he was a shtella (synagogue) rabbi if he had shul positions, and other considerations.

As it happens, I have on my desk in my office right now the formal documentation that I recently received from the RCA’s BDA after a successful Giyur-confirming investigation that I asked BDA to launch on behalf of one of my congregants who underwent an halakhic conversion decades and decades ago. I contacted Rabbi Michoel Zylberman at BDA, provided him with the documentation and information he requested of me, and BDA confirmed the conversion’s kashrut. I also now have in my inbox a communication from another rabbi elsewhere who has a family claiming in his neighborhood that I was their Gerut rabbi a few decades ago. He is checking with me, and we will get a BDA certification for that one, too.

I am not at all offended. It is not about me. It is about a uniform system for everyone so that halakhic Gerim can have peace of mind hereinafter for their future generations.

Now here is the thing. Even in this Age of the RCA-BDA GPS system with the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, I still am free to bypass GPS and to do as I did thirty years ago, conducting my own conversions and convening my own Bet Din with two colleagues. However, I choose not to do so because I cannot guarantee any American Ger in the year 2016 the kind of long-term peace of mind if I act independently that she would have if converted via GPS. If the certifying document merely bears my name and that of two colleagues, then the Ger is back to asking the Chief Rabbinate to check me out again. By contrast, when the conversion is through GPS, then uniform standards undoubtedly have been met.

I could vie to have my name be included on a special list of rabbis who independently are recognized by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate. However, like almost all of my colleagues, I have no desire to do so. I want for people who approach me to know they are being converted under the stronger institutional imprimatur. For that same reason, I advise any person who is seeking conversion or considering conversion or who knows someone doing so to ask any individual rabbi or rabbi who presents as head of his own conversion Bet Din: “Please provide me with a formal written guarantee that any conversion I do under your sponsorship will be accepted by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate now and in the future.” I give such a guarantee to the GPS Gerim whom I sponsor. It is, to me, a matter of transparency and best practices, just as medical providers provide full disclosures in advance of procedures. It would not be surprising that a conversion pursued with any rabbi or rabbi who will not provide such a written guarantee may raise red flags.

The recent matter regarding a long-ago conversion conducted by rabbi Haskel Lookstein, for which the Israeli Chief Rabbinate requested more documentation, generated great media attention because, years later, he also was associated with the halakhic conversion of Ivanka Trump. The media had a field day as they do whenever they tackle any subject dealing with Jews, and they misrepresented facts as they often do because, as a White House advisor recently stated, the media are comprised of many inexperienced journalists unschooled in the finer points of certain subjects they are covering and lacking the time to do the research before an impending deadline.

As facts actually have it, Ms. Trump was converted under the GPS rubric. There is no question regarding her conversion. She was converted with the full institutional imprimatur. By contrast, Rabbi Lookstein’s earlier conversions that pre-dated the GPS can be subject to the same pro forma confirmation process that I would expect would be applied to those who converted on my watch. We have one basic standard that should treat all of us equally. And it must never be about us.

Rabbi Dov Fischer, Esq., who has served two three-year terms on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America during the past seven years, is an adjunct professor of the law of Torts and of Civil Procedure at two major Southern California law schools and is rabbi of Young Israel of Orange County, California. His views on this and other subjects are his own and can be found at

[Comment: Bottom line to the Reform Convert: Are you willing to Die as a Jew? Serve in the IDF, Keep all the Jewish laws, Shabbat, Kosher, Mikvah, Family Purity (Niddah), Make Aliyah, Dress as Jews and not Goyim, Send your children to Yeshiva and IDF and Do what the Gedolim tell you to do.]

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