HaRav Yitzchak Yosef delivered a scathing speech last week against the changes to the religous status quo that Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana (Yamina) is planning on implementing, including allowing municipal Rabbanim [who are hired by the state] to perform giyur. In the course of his lengthy speech, HaRav Yosef explained his fierce opposition to the practice.
HaRav Yosef explained that when he was elected as Chief Rabbi, Naftali Bennett was serving as Religious Affairs Minister. Bennett and his deputy minister, Eli Ben-Dahan, who were determined to transfer the authority to perform giyur to municipal rabbanim, pressured Rav Yosef to meet with one of the Tzohar rabbanim regarding the issue. [Tzohar is a religious Zionist organization that presents itself as an “alternative” to the Rabbanut.] HaRav Yosef was hesitant but ultimately agreed to meet with him.
“[The Tzohar rabbi] tells me: ‘We have hundreds of thousands of Russian olim who aren’t Jewish,'” HaRav Yosef said. “‘You, the Chareidim, and the religious don’t have a problem since you marry among yourselves. The problem is the traditional and secular community who are learning together in university, which leads to assimilation. Who knows what will be in years from now?’ the Tzohar rabbi stressed. “‘If today there are 460,000 non-Jews, what will be in another few years?'”
“I asked him what he suggests,” HaRav Yosef said. “He told me: ‘We’ll start converting minors.’ He said he can convert tens of thousands of minors.”
“I said to him: ‘How can we convert these children? Obviously, the fathers aren’t religious since they married non-Jews. How will they be shomer Torah v’mitzvos if the father is non-religious and the mother is non-Jewish? There’s no doubt that these children won’t be shomer mitzvos even if they say they will be. Their parents will take them to the beach on Shabbos, they’ll take them to treif restaurants.”
“I asked him what about the issue of bishul akum? How is it possible that the [non-Jewish] mothers won’t cook for their children?”
“[The Tzohar rabbi] answered that he’ll act in accordance with the opinion of the Rema. The child will light the fire in the morning and the mother will use that fire.”
“I asked him, ‘Who will guarantee that this will really happen? Who will guarantee that the mothers will buy only kosher food? That these children won’t eat treif, won’t eat chazir?'”
“‘You think that you’re preventing assimilation?’ I told him. “‘You’re opening a doorway for giyur that’s against halacha. This itself is assimilation. These children will have giyur certification from the Rabbanut and they’ll think they’re Jews and marry them.'”
“We’re worried about the next generations,” HaRav Yosef said. “What will be in another 50 years? People who want to be chozer b’teshuvah will suddenly find out that the giyur of their Saba or Savta wasn’t according to halacha. What will be then?”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)