Collective Conversions are Necessary

Israel’s diverse government has lost its majority in the Knesset with the defection of coalition whip Idit Silman, apparently over the issue of conversion reform. There can be little doubt that Member of Knesset Silman found herself under heavy rabbinical pressure and that she ultimately relented. There is also the issue that mainstream Modern Orthodoxy in the United States promised to not recognize the decentralized Israeli conversions due to pressure from Israel’s Haredi Chief Rabbis. While it is quite possible that Bennett and Lapid may return to power after there are new elections in Israel, there is need for a new conversion proposal for which there will be much broader agreement among Religious Zionist rabbis in Israel and Modern Orthodox rabbis abroad. What is needed therefore are collective conversions. Collective conversions have been performed multiple times before in Jewish history. While it is true that the regular conversion system in Israel needs to be reformed this should be done within the Religious Zionist consensus. There must be a single mass conversion of most of the 450 000 Israelis who lack formal religious affiliation. There needs to be significant consensus building among Religious Zionist and Modern Orthodox rabbis for such a singular historical event.

Published by Daniella Bartfeld

Daniella Bartfeld is the founding director of the Aliyah Organization.

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