The State of Israel is meant to be a ‘home’ for every Jew. That’s not exactly what’s happening.
Following on from my posts about the quagmire relating to conversions in Latin America (which I still have way more to write about, in due course), I received the following interesting email from a reader.
I don’t agree with everything she says (especially about secular politicians providing some sort of ‘solution’) – but I think her insight and the information she is sharing is a very valuable contribution to the discussion on what is really going on with orthodox converts, on today’s State of Israel.
So with her permission (and removing any identifying details), I’m sharing it with you below.
I am a giyoret (charedi) from Latin America, and sadly (yes) I know more or less the conversion system.
You probably already know, but to explain why I wasn’t simply able to vote for the religious parties I first have to explain how the conversion system works in Israel.
In Israel you have two options, you either go to a private court (many of those are charedi) or you go to the State conversion system.
For a citizen of Israel, this is a non-issue, but for non-citizens it’s about choosing to have automatic political rights (i.e. the ability to make aliyah) or not.
You could say, “then everyone should just do the process via the Rabbanut” but sadly, to get into the system you need approval from the Exceptions Committee, which is a joint committee (Rabbanut and the Interior Ministry).
And passing the approval process in a reasonable amount of time is almost impossible if you are from a third world country, and even more difficult if you are from a third world country and charedi. Many of those cases end up without a solution and end up being deported from Israel or leaving voluntarily.
To give you more perspective, I know girls that have been trying for more than three years to convert with the Rabbanut (they are already giyorot (converts) because usually, you finish the private, charedi conversion process first).
Three years, without a work permit or something similar (they usually have to work as cleaners).
It’s physical and psychological torture (I went through something similar, but I was luckier), and sadly, seeing this continue (even up until today) marked me forever.
You probably know about Karen Jemima Mosquera.
(Ed. Note: I didn’t, but now I’m looking into it.)
Well, I know her mother and sister, and her rabbi, who are all tzadikim, especially her rabbi who no matter what, helps people). Sadly, I couldn’t meet her, but when I learned the real story (that right-wing newspapers never told) I was shocked by the amount of cruelty this woman had to go through. Not only from the State (and particularly, the Interior Ministry) but also from religious institutions.
In the moment of her death, Jemima was not Jewish according to the State of Israel. I mean, she was clearly Jewish (she had a mehadrin conversion) but she was not politically Jewish. The fact that she could be buried on the Mount of Olives was a political miracle.
I personally think she died for a reason, and it was to call the frum community’s attention to the existence of people like her.
But nothing changed.
Now, like many charedim, I was told that Lapid is a rasha (evildoer) (don’t get me wrong, I didn’t vote for them either), that if he gets the power then we are done.
I don’t think he is a rasha, he is just a massive fool. And I don’t think he is so important as the religious leadership wants us to believe.
We as frum people tend to think that since we’re extra careful about certain things (Shabbat, kashrut, arayot (modest behavior) that our permanence in this land depends on keeping those prohibitions.
As far as I know, Hashem has never exiled us for breaking those things.
Hashem has exiled us for violating mitzvot ben adam le chavero (the mitzvahs between a man and his fellow man.)
For oppressing the widow, the stranger, and the orphan.
And this is because He has a special sympathy for the stranger, the widow, and the orphan. Hashem cares for the weary.
Shabbat, Kashrut, and Arayot are of course important but are not the ikkar (main thing).
And forgive me for what I’m saying, the religious parties are complicit in this suffering.
Who is the Interior Minister? Aryeh Machlouf Dery, a “charedi” guy. He’s the one who is is behind the suffering of those gerim (converts).
(This comes from the Ministry of Interior website:)
The Population Administration deals with the personal, formal, and legal status of residents of Israel, in accordance with Government policy on citizenship, immigration, and entry to and exit from the country. It provides documentation and registration services and monitors movements and changes such as births, deaths, changes of address, entry to and exit from the country. It issues passports; conducts border checks; and manages the population registry, passport, and border check databases, which are a primary source of information for the Population Administration offices and, through them, for other government agencies.
Laws determining personal status and modalities for entering and leaving Israel include the Law of Return 5710-1950; the Entry to Israel Law 5712-1952; the Citizenship Law 5712-1952; the Passports Law 5712-1952; the Names Law 5716-1956; the Population Registry Law 5725-1965; the Possession and Presentation of Identity Cards Law 5743-1982; and the Emergency Regulations (Exit from the Country) 5708-1948.
I was heavily conflicted, and this dirty trick of using the Gadol Hador (who is probably clueless about this situation) to push the tzibbur (community) to vote for gimmel because it was in our interests.
(Ed. Note: this isn’t my understanding of why they said to vote to Gimmel.)
I was heavily considering voting for gimmel because even if their political allies (Shas) hurt me and my friends, I truly wanted to be loyal.
But something happened.
In my seminary, there are currently 4 girls trying to make aliyah with a charedi private conversion (the State of Israel’s Supreme Court gave them this right).
Three of them are stuck (no answer).
One of them (a sixty-year-old lady), got a B1 visa meanwhile, while they decide her fate (she must reapply in a year).
She spent 9000 NIS to get this.
(From the Nefesh B’Nefesh website🙂 Work (B-1): Granted to those who qualify under the Law of Return and who do not hold prior Israeli citizenship. This visa allows you to legally work in Israel. The visa is for a three year period. You can apply to extend it for another two years, but you cannot exceed a period of five years in total. At the end of this time period, you can either apply for Aliyah or apply for an A-5 visa, which can be extended every 2 years. (Scroll down for an update on this – apparently Nefesh B’Nefesh have this wrong.)
B1 visas are working visas for foreign workers (non-Jews) and goyish girlfriends, its known as the “girlfriend visa.”
With this visa, you don’t have right to have a teudat zehut (national ID number) (as opposed to a A5 visa) or to bituach leumi (National Insurance), or health care.
I was also a victim of this tactic, but I got a better arrangement while my fate was decided (I got a humanitarian visa and the right to hold a teudat zehut). I got this based on a liberal conversion I made in the diaspora (my lawyer told me “don’t disclose that you’re a charedi convert ” – she was right, It could have hurt me).
I was in the seminary, and this woman came and asked me “do you think that when I come back, they will give me a teudat zehut?” She said it in such a tone that it broke my heart. I couldn’t tell her “yes”.
I know of cases where the Rabbanut said yes, but the Interior Ministry said no.
The head of the Exceptions Committee is, naturally, a Shasnik.
(Ed. Note: I haven’t checked this out yet.)
Then I realized I couldn’t simply vote for these people or their enablers (and this includes Gafni and Litzman).
I can forgive what they did to me, but I couldn’t forgive what they are doing to others.
I know you may think that I’m wrong, that Lapid is worse, and I would understand that.
But I simply couldn’t.
In a second email, my correspondent added the following:
I forgot to tell you that this is not the fault of the Rabbanut.
They make it seem as if it’s the Rabbanut, but the Rabbanut is basically strangled by the secular authority (the Interior Ministry and the Ministry of Religious Affairs).
Inside the Rabbanut, there is also a certain school of thought that rejects any non-State sanctioned conversion (they would accept army conversions over a charedi private conversion), but many there are innocent and good people that have very good intentions.
I suspect that’s why Shas would like to take control of the ministry of aliyah and integration and change the Law of Return.
The excuse is always the Reform and the Russian non-Jews, but given that they already attempted to exclude converts in general from the right of return, I wouldn’t be surprised that they would try to do that again.
(Ed. Note: I haven’t heard that they have been trying to exclude converts, generally, from the right to move to Israel, and BH I will be looking into this.)
Remember last week’s parsha?
אָרוּר, מַטֶּה מִשְׁפַּט גֵּר-יָתוֹם–וְאַלְמָנָה; וְאָמַר כָּל-הָעָם, אָמֵן.
Not everyone wants to advance those weird agendas.
Particularly, we know that the Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi is trying to fix much stuff inside.
Also inside the Interior Ministry, there are very nice people without power who are willing to help (they can’t usually)
I also used to be too judgy regarding the Rabbanut but I learned that inside it, there are many Rabbanim who do believe that the ultimate criteria of acceptance is not politics/economic situation but halacha.
They just do what they think is right.
I honestly think this is hurting the religious community (attempting to tell the chilonim (secular Jews) who they should marry and stuff proved to work against us).
I may be paranoid, but now I get why Ben Gurion offered us the status quo. There is famous Israeli religious university professor who used to say that Ben Gurion himself told him that he didn’t want to have religion and state separated, because that way he would have the power to control religion.
I think army conversions (which from what I know, makes many Rabbanut rabbis feel uncomfortable) are a proof of that.
The Rabbanut cannot even decide how many time a ulpan giur should last. (Ulpan giur is the conversion process). For citizens, it will always last 10 months (everyone has to finish the process in 10 months) – but no Beit Din in the world has such a restriction.
Keep up the good work Rivka, and pray for us.
Lots to think about, isn’t there?
I will start looking into all this stuff with the Interior Ministry, and we’ll see what fantastic can of worms is about to open up over there, too.
The one thing that I just want to note, is that I don’t think the Gadolei haDor like Rav Berland and Rav Kanievsky told us to vote ‘gimmel’ from a political perspective, odd as that sounds. No true gadol gives a stuff about the Knesset at this point in time, they have their eye on the geula process, and just making the transition from where we are right now to that stage as easy as possible.
Voting ‘gimmel’ was just part of the heavenly plan to totally hamstring the secular, totally corrupt, political apparatus in Israel, while we’re waiting for the last bit of the geula process to unfold.
No truly God-fearing party could ever head a government in the State of Israel, and be complicit in all the murders, crime, and vice that is happening every single day. We are still not even uncovering the tip of the iceberg, but soon, all the awful corruption will start to come out.
What’s clear is that ‘politics’ is not the answer to what’s going on here.
(Hopefully, more of the ‘religious’ people out there are starting to realise that.)
What’s required is to tear all this old, corrupt stuff down, and to rebuild it anew, with justice, morality and Torah at its base.
And that’s exactly what Moshiach is going to do.
The main question for us at this stage, is how does God want us to respond to what’s going on with the State-sponsored abuse of sincere, orthodox converts while we’re waiting for that to happen?
I just got this over email:
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