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February 10, 2016 / 1 Adar I, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘conversion’

Vatican Says ‘Jews Don’t Need Conversion’

Friday, December 11th, 2015

Jews do not need to be converted, and the Catholic Church “does not question the continued love of God for the chosen people of Israel,” the Vatican said Thursday.

The news came in a 10,000-word document released by the Holy See that says Jews do not need to be converted. Moreover, it says, the only way for Catholics to understand their own faith is to view Jesus within the Jewish context of his time.

Entitled “The Gifts and Calling of God are Irrevocable,” the document calls on Jews and Christians to work together to make the world a better place.

“While affirming salvation through an explicit or even implicit faith in Christ, the Church does not question the continued love of God for the chosen people of Israel,” the document states.

“That the Jews are participants in God’s salvation is theologically unquestionable, but how that can be possible without confessing Christ explicitly, is and remains an unfathomable divine mystery.”

The Church recommended that Jews and Catholics jointly combat all forms of anti-Semitism, and condemned the Nazi slaughter of Jews in World War II.

“History teaches us where even the slightest perceptible forms of anti-Semitism can lead: the human tragedy of the Shoah (using the Hebrew term for the Holocaust) in which two-thirds of European Jewry were annihilated.”

Drafted by the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations With Jews, the document also stated clearly that Catholics must refrain from active attempts to convert Jews.

“The Catholic Church neither conducts nor supports any specific institutional mission work directed towards Jews,” it says. Judaism “is not to be considered simply as another religion; the Jews are instead our elder brothers.”

The document cited the release 50 years ago of the Nostra Aetate — ‘In Our Times’ — that repudiated Jewish guilt in Jesus’ death.

“Judaism is not to be considered simply as another religion; the Jews are instead our ‘elder brothers’ (Saint Pope John Paul II), our ‘fathers in faith’ (Benedict XVI),” the document states.

“Jesus was a Jew, was at home in the Jewish tradition of his time, and was decisively shaped by this religious milieu (cf. ‘Ecclesia in Medio Oriente,’ 20). His first disciples gathered around him had the same heritage and were defined by the same Jewish tradition in their everyday life.”

Troublemakers?

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin of Efrat (R) speaks with Rabbi David Stav. Rabbis Riskin and Stav are part of a group of leading rabbis who decided to establish independent Orthodox conversion courts in Israel, breaking the official Rabbinate monopoly.

What happens next remains to be seen.

Bennett and Netanyahu Clash over Rollback of Religious Reforms

Sunday, July 5th, 2015

 

The Cabinet Sunday morning approved amendments to the conversion reform law of the last administration and returned more power to Hareidim, over the objections of coalition partner Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home).

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ordered Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett to vote for the changes, alleging that they were part of the coalition agreement with the Shas and Yehadut HaTorah (United Torah Judaism) parties.

Bennett said at the Cabinet session, “I did not agree to this in coalition negotiations,” but the Prime Minister shot back:

All of the agreements obligate everyone.

Likud Parliamentary Group Chairman Ze’ev Elkin stepped into the fray and confirmed that Bennett opposed rolling back the reform, and the Cabinet passed the changes with Bennett and Bayit Yehudi Cabinet member opposing it.

Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of the Yisrael Beiteinu party that is not in the coalition, also voted against it.

The amendments wreck all of the efforts in the previous government to take conversion out of the hands of Hareidi rabbis an allow local rabbinical courts to decide on the delicate issue that has the most impact on 300,000 Russian immigrants who are not Jewish according to Jewish law. Hareidi courts generally are far less willing to accept conversions than are national religious rabbis.

The Cabinet also transferred authority over the country’s rabbinical courts from the Justice Ministry to the Ministry of Religious Services, which is headed by another Shas MK, David Azoulay.

Refusal to accept reforms means that it is more likely that all of the children and future generations of the immigrants will not be Jewish. If the woman marry Jewish men, there would be even more non-Jews in Israel and would create complications that could affect their children’s future.

The need for Prime Minister Netanyahu to form a coalition forced him to accept the Shas and UTJ demands to put the conversion process back in the hands of Hareidi courts. Under the new amendments local courts still can process conversions but only with the approval of the Chief Rabbinate.

Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef, son of the late Rav Ovadia Yosef, is part of the Shas movement that his father founded, so it is no wonder that the Shas party insisted on eliminating reforms.

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau also opposed the reforms.

It only is a matter of time before reform once again will undo the Hareidi establishment that never misses an opportunity to forego bridging gaps with the non-Hareidi population and bring people closer to Judaism, simply because they insist on such a rigid approach to religion and concentration of power that pave the way for a backlash that could weaken Orthodox Jewish influence in Israel.

Rabbi Riskin Hopes the Rabbinate Will Climb Down From Their Tree [audio]

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

Rabbi Riskin said he hopes the Rabbinate will climb down from their tree, in an interview he gave on Galei Yisrael Radio on Tuesday, as reported by Kipa.

The extension of Rabbi Riskin’s tenure as Chief Rabbi of the town of Efrat is under evaluation by the Israeli Rabbinate because he has reached the retirement age of 75. Only, it appears that the consideration as to whether to extend the Rabbi’s term is based on Rabbi Riskin’s legal/halachic positions, which places him in direct opposition to the Chareidi/Shas controlled Rabbinate.

Rabbi Riskin said, “I don’t want to believe that because of the halachic issue of conversion, which is such an important issue in the State of Israel today, that they [the Rabbinate] would want to terminate my services in the Rabbinate, but so it appears.”

Rabbi Riskin made it clear that he respects the Rabbinate and believes it serves an important role, but he thinks “the Rabbinate should accept opinions that are important, halachic pluralism, when of course it is within the halachic consensus. I don’t do anything that is outside the halachic consensus to open the gates of conversion…”

Rabbi Riskin continued, “I support the establishment and the institution of the Rabbinate, I believe it is important, but it must be a Rabbinate that talks to all of the nation of Israel, and halachically it must be prepared to accept halachic opinions that are not exactly Ultra-Orthodox views.”

“I hope… they’ll come down from their tree. I honestly don’t understand them… if this is true.” he finished off.

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin to ‘Stay On No Matter What’ Says Efrat Mayor

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

Efrat Chief Rabbi Shlomo Riskin is planning take his case to the Supreme Court of Israel if necessary, and Efrat Mayor Oded Ravivi says he is adamant Riskin must stay on, “regardless of what the Chief Rabbinate of Israel says.”

Ravivi warned that he would not tolerate political interference from the country’s rabbinical council officials when there is a “clear consensus that Rabbi Riskin is performing his duties faithfully.”

In an interview Tuesday with the Hebew-language “Kipa” website, Ravivi slammed the threat by the Chief Rabbinate not to extend Riskin’s term of office in his city.

“I watch this process in wonder and amazement,” Ravivi said. “Overall there is a consensus here that Rabbi Riskin is doing his job exceptionally well.

The parliament understands that the rabbi must respond to the definition of “creating for yourself a rabbinic authority” – someone to whom one can turn in time of spiritual and moral need – half of these voters who support the rabbi are city council members, 25 percent are synagogue members and 25 percent are simply those who are spiritual followers.

“Rabbi Riskin is one of the founders of this community,” the mayor continued. “Is there anyone who is a more integral part of this city? He is part of the infrastructure and the living spirit of this place.

“The Rabbinate decides not to reappoint him – so does that mean he will no longer bless celebrations here? People will no longer consult him? I would bet that the reality will not change, even if the Chief Rabbinate does decide not to extend his appointment,” the mayor said.

Meanwhile, Riskin himself has said that he will appeal the issue to the nation’s Supreme Court. In addition to serving as the Chief Rabbi of Efrat, Riskin also heads the Ohr Torah Stone institutions as well.

“I read the newspapers and hear that the matter is about conversions and the fact that I was supposed to set up a conversion court along with other town rabbis,” Riskin explains.

“I wanted to open the gates for people from the former Soviet Union who live here in Israel, born to Jewish fathers. There is an issue here that must be resolved, and that can be resolved, if conversion courts will become more embracing,yet 100 percent according to Jewish law.”

Modified Conversion Bill Goes To Cabinet Instead and Approved

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

After much political backroom dealing, a highly controversial conversion bill was enacted by a Cabinet decision, instead of becoming law through Knesset vote.

MK Elazar Stern (Hatnuah) had proposed a bill to the Knesset that would completely change how conversions were processed in Israel. Among the changes were the kind of religious court that could approve of conversions and the religious denominations of the conversion rabbis.

Haredi parties, and a large faction of Habayit Hayehudi strongly opposed the bill.

Both Chief Rabbis had already instructed the Prime Minister’s office that they would not recognize converts under the bill as Jewish. Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau had also warned that foreign religious courts may no longer recognize Israeli conversions, if the bill was passed.

In what is seen as a political move, Prime Minister Netanyahu had a revised bill brought for a Cabinet approval, avoiding a vote in the Knesset on the full extended bill. Should the Knesset bill have passed, it would have threatened the current governing coalition – coalition members Hatnuah and Yesh Atid backed the bill, while Netanyahu’s Likud party, and coalition member Habayit Hayehudi, vehemently opposed it.

The revised proposal is seen as a compromise, and will leave the coalition intact.

While a Cabinet decision allows the reform to go into effect immediately, it would also be easier to cancel in the future should a need arise.

The revisions include a requirement for the Chief Rabbi’s approval for a municipal rabbi’s conversion (missing in Stern’s bill), and no recognition for Reform and Conservative conversions (which were possible in Stern’s bill).

The basic platform of the bill, allowing municipal rabbis to convene conversion courts, remains in the Cabinet proposal.

Following the cabinet vote, in which only Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) voted against the measure, Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef said he wouldn’t accept the decision.

Bayit Yehudi head Naftali Bennett said the compromise bill was balanced and in accordance with Jewish law.

The proposal seeks to make conversion an easier process – until now, all conversions had to be brought to the central Rabbanut conversion court. There have been complaints about the process, while others have raised questions about the potential validity of conversions performed by rabbis separately. The issue is a hot button topic in Israeli politics, as there are currently an estimated 330,000 Israelis who are not considered Jewish according to religious law.

Proposed Conversion Bill, Change in Local Rabbinate Power Nixed by Netanyahu

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

A bill that would allow any chief rabbi of any city to create his own religious court for conversion has finally stopped at the prime minister’s desk.

The bill would effectively neutralize the authority of the nation’s Chief Rabbinate over the conversion process in Israel.

It is one that has been fought bitterly by observant Jewish parties across the spectrum.

And now the proposed Conversion Bill advanced by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua party has gotten the axe by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

According to a report Monday by Channel 2 investigative journalist Amit Segal, the prime minister announced that he supports the hareidi position regarding conversions.

Netanyahu made the statement following months of skirmishes behind the scenes and quiet wrangling by both chief rabbis and hareidi political parties as well as members of the more moderate Bayit Yehudi party.

The prime minister allegedly also told heads of coalition factions that he will make sure the bill does not pass if it comes up for a vote, even if it is privately sponsored.

Because Livni’s credibility as a party chief may ride on this issue, however, the issue may be a deal breaker for her presence in the coalition.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/proposed-conversion-bill-change-in-local-rabbinate-power-nixed-by-netanyahu/2014/10/21/

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