My latest piece on the conversion crisis is on-line, a bit late, at the Hadassah Magazine site. Crisis is too nice a word. What’s really happening is that part of the Israeli state rabbinate has adopted a radical ultra-Orthodox innovation: regarding conversion to Judaism as something that can be annulled.
Yes, folks, I said, radical ultra-Orthodox innovation. That’s not a contradiction in terms; it may be a redundancy. Like other contemporary religious communities that claim to represent old-time religion – salafist Muslims, fundamentalist Christians – ultra-Orthodox Judaism is a creation of modernity. The ultra-Orthodox assault on conversion is just the latest bit of evidence.
So here’s the article:
Nearly two years ago, a Danish-born Israeli woman named Yael and her husband appeared before the rabbinical court in Ashdod to end their marriage. Since the couple had agreed on an amicable divorce, they anticipated a pro forma procedure.
Yael could hardly have expected that the court would declare that her Orthodox conversion to Judaism was null and void. Nor could she have known that her case would set off the latest round in the long-running Israeli dispute over who is a Jew. By no choice of her own, she is now at the center of overlapping debates on the meaning of conversion in Judaism, and over the connection between religion and state in Israel.
Yael grew up in a Protestant home. In the late 1980s, while traveling in the Far East, she met a young Israeli man. She came to Israel to visit him and stayed. When they decided to marry, she chose to convert.
Read the rest here, and come back to South Jerusalem to comment.