Official recognition continues to get more difficult for patrilineal Jews in Israel, as a state-funded religious academy has decided to halt sending conversion candidates to rabbinical courts until the chief rabbinate loosens its conversion requirements, says The Forward.
Recently, the chief rabbinate has been tightening its requirements for conversion. Within the last few months, the chief rabbinate moved to freeze all conversions from abroad until it could determine whether the converting rabbis met its strict standards. The Forward story relates tales of people who were told by rabbinical courts that they needed to move to Orthodox neighborhoods, send their children to Orthodox schools and have their whole family adopt an Orthodox lifestyle before the court would recognize their conversion.
Despite the increasing restrictions on conversion, demand remains high among the hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the former Soviet Union who do not have Jewish mothers. Many of them come from non-religious backgrounds and want to be recognized as Jews for purposes of marriage; their desire is to enter the secular mainstream, not the haredi ghettoes. But things look only to get worse, not better, when the Sephardic chief rabbi, Shlomo Amar, says that the only acceptable standards for conversion are Orthodox standards.
“Either you are a Jew or you aren’t a Jew,” he told The Forward. “And if you don’t belief in Torah, then you are not a Jew.”
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