January 3, 2008
‘Non-Jewish’ Jews endure challenges living in Israel
(Page 2 - Previous Page)To try to deal with the problem, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office announced last week that it was adopting recommendations to help restructure the conversion process to increase the number of religious court judges officiating in conversion cases and drop the demand that converts become religious Jews as a condition of the conversion. Olmert's office hopes these changes will prompt more immigrants to choose to convert.
The army is also trying to ease the conversion process. Nativ, a program sponsored jointly by the Jewish Agency for Israel and the government, is known for its welcoming attitude toward prospective converts and focuses on soldiers who are immigrants from the former Soviet Union. To date, it has shepherded about 2,000 soldiers through the process.
Daniel Gordis, vice president of the Shalem Center, a Jerusalem think-tank, said the question is not so much whether the immigrants are Jews according to halacha, but how the state treats them.
"How do we reach out to these people to help them see their connection to Judaism as the unfolding story of the Jewish people in this land?" he said.
1 | 2