Monday, February 22, 2016

Black Lives Matter!

An Ethiopian child in Israel. What will her future look like?
One of the things that really upsets me is racial discrimination. And it seems to have reared its ugly head in the Israeli town of Petach Tikvah. From the Jerusalem Post (reprinted at VIN)
The marriage registrar of the religious council of Petah Tikva, Aryeh Sapir, allegedly refused to wed an Ethiopian couple based on an “order from on high.” 
According to the article, the woman who applied to this religious council was harassed about her conversion. One that was granted to her by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate (the Rabbanut). The ‘on high’ person seems to bBenjamin Attias, the Sephardi Rabbi of the city. How ironic it is for a Sephardi Rav whose people suffer from their own form of discrimination to be so bigoted!

Aren’t there enough problems with conversions in Israel already? The Rabbanut has been accused of requiring unreasonable standards for conversion by a wide variety of critics. They have also been accused of bias ad unfair tactics. They have been accused of being an intransigent and divisive force in Israel. And have played hardball with conversion courts all over the world – approving only conversions where courts have agreed to their conversion standards.

I am not  going to discuss whether the Rabbanut’s tactics are fair or just. Or whether standards for conversions should changed to make it easier to convert for a variety of reasons – some of which might be essential to the Jewish character of the state. Or whether I think it should exist or be dismantled. Although I have my own views, they are beyond the scope of this post.

But the fact that an individual who has passed the Rabbanut’s scrutiny and was converted by them should make them a full fledged Jew without any additional investigation. I can only conclude that the Rav of a city that doesn’t accept a Rabbanut conversion is doing it only for one reason. He is a racist bigot.

Now if he has a legitimate reason for not accepting a Rabbanut certified convert, I will listen to it. But as of now, none has been forthcoming. The circumstances strongly indicate racism and bigotry.

Assuming the Sephardi Rabbi of the city responsible for this shameful behavior is a member of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, I believe they ought to fire him. On the spot. And I would severely reprimand his subordinate that did not stand up to him and do the right thing. There is no room for racism and bigotry in Judaism.

If the Rabbanut doesn’t do something soon to correct the situation and apologize to the individual this happened to - it wouldn’t hurt to picket them until they did.

H/T Jerry Gottheil