Diversity Macht Frei
March 29, 2018
A committee appointed by Israel’s Diaspora Affairs minister says that there are some 60 million people around the world with an “affinity” to Judaism or Israel. The committee says that among them there are communities that could be brought to Israel and converted to Judaism. The committee’s recommendations call for reaching out to these communities and introducing them to content related to Israel and Judaism.
The report suggested beginning to map these communities, reaching out to them, offering them lessons in Judaism and on Israel, as well as examining potential joint work in the field of “public diplomacy to promote support for Israel and aid in the struggle against anti-Semitism.” Dvir Kahane, the director general of the Diaspora Affairs Ministry, wrote in the introduction to the report that “we are talking about tens of millions of people” who could be sources of “connections, affinity and support for the Jewish people and Israel.”
According to the report, these groups include descendants of Jews who are ineligible for the Law of Return, such as Jewish converts; communities who claim to be Jewish but still need to undergo conversion such as the Falash Mura (Beta Israel) from Ethiopia or the Bnei Menashe from India; descendants of forced converts in Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, South America and the southwestern U.S.; descendants of Eastern Europeans who hid their faith under communist regimes; communities in Africa and Asia that claim a more distant connection to the Jewish people; and groups around the world with “a desire for an ideological and spiritual affinity .”
The report talks about bringing some of these people to Israel and converting them to Judaism. Of course, the rabbis are not happy about this.
Religious Zionist rabbis have come out against a Diaspora Affairs Ministry report recommending Israel to reach out to tens of millions of non-Jews with an affinity to Judaism. The rabbis criticized the report, saying that calling for the conversion of non-Jews is not Judaism’s way.
“According to Jewish law, Judaism has no interest in influencing someone to convert. There’s no such thing,” Rabbi Dov Lior told Haaretz.
“Besides the fact that their genetic connection is not always clear, but only partial according to rumors, the problem is that some have an affinity for Christianity, and sometimes they’re interested in the legitimacy of Judaism as a Judaism that is a bridge to Christianity. That of course is impossible.