The debate over conversion has been heating up, here in America and in Israel. Last week, the left-wing Israeli daily Ha’aretz weighed in with a searing editorial urging the rabbinate to stop obstructing the conversion of the masses of immigrants from the former Soviet Union who are not considered Jewish under halacha. This week, it’s a right-wing Knesset member who’s pushing to make conversion easier.
Ha’aretz reports that Yisreal Beiteinu Knesset member David Rotem is submitting a bill that would expand the numbers of rabbis able to conduct conversions:
Rotem says the Chief Rabbinate once permitted all municipal rabbis to conduct conversions, but it withdrew that authority. Rotem wants to restore it and to expand it to rabbis in moshavim and kibbutzim. The Yisrael Beitenu MK argues that, “If we do not resolve the conversion problem, the Jewish state is done for. The nation of Israel will be divided into two and they will start keeping books of yuhasin [family trees]. I want to preserve the unity of the nation of Israel.”
Ha’aretz reports, however, that without the support of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, Rotem’s bill “will be shelved.”