How The Haredim Took Control In Israel

The Haredim have been yelling about the illegitimacy of Modern Orthodox conversions for many years. Only now do they have the political power to delegitimize such conversions.

When the Mizrachi aka religious Zionists aka the Modern Orthodox in Israel opposed Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to withdraw from Gaza, Sharon was livid at their political party Mafdal and he pushed through Shlomo Amar and Yonah Metzger as Israel’s chief rabbis.

From Wikipedia:

In November 2006 Amar submitted a draft bill to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that would remove the conversion clause from the Israeli Law of Return. This would prevent converts from all streams of Judaism, including Orthodox Judaism, from having automatic citizenship rights in Israel, and restrict the Law of Return to applying only to Jews by birth whose mothers were Jewish.[5][6] This also affects potential immigrants who are descended from only one Jewish parent or grandparent, not all of whom would be accepted as Jewish under Orthodox law. See also: Matrilineal descent and Who is a Jew?

When we get new chief rabbis in 2012 or 2013, I expect we’ll get a higher quality rabbi than Yonah Metzger and we’ll get rabbis more concerned about all of the Jews in Israel, not just the rabbis’ political camp.

The previous Chief Rabbis (Yisrael Meir Lau of the Ashkenazim and Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron of the Sephardim), were not first-rate Torah scholars, but they were concerned with all of the Jews in Israel.

It took Bakshi-Doron six months to figure out how to be Chief Rabbi. He was elected to be Ovadia Yosef‘s puppet. It took him six months to realize he had to become his own man.

Shlomo Amar would be better off just being Ovadia Yosef‘s puppet, but he feels torn between Ovadia and Yosef Sholom Elyashiv on matters such as conversion and the election for the new Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem. At one point, Shlomo Amar decides he won’t accept RCA conversions. Then he changes to only accepting RCA conversions in the United States.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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