Who is a Jew: Conversion and the State of Israel

CCAR Responsa and Resolutions

Other materials

Scholarly Articles about Israel

Israeli Reform Jews ask court ruling be enforced. Christian Century, 3/13/2002, Vol. 119 Issue 6, p14, 1/5p

Abstract: Focuses on a Supreme Court appeal filed by the Progressive Movement stating that Israel Interior Ministry has failed to register non-Orthodox converts as Jews. Defense of the Interior Ministry to the allegations.

Hacker, Daphna. Inter-Religious Marriages in Israel: Gendered Implications for Conversion, Children, and Citizenship Israel Studies; Summer2009, Vol. 14 Issue 2, p178-197, 20p

Abstract:The article explores gendered implications for conversion, children, and citizenship in Israel through the experiences of inter-religious couples living in Israel and the legal framework that hovers over their lives. The study included 28 interviews with 14 inter-religious couples and the analysis of relevant religious and civil laws. The findings uncover the centrality of the decision whether to convert to Judaism and the gendered dimensions of this decision. Non-Jewish female spouses experience stronger pressure to convert than do non-Jewish male spouses. This gendered pressure is explained by the orthodox Jewish religious decree that recognizes a child as a Jew only if its mother is Jewish, and by the Jewish national collective's social and legal adoption of this religious definition of "who is a Jew". 'The gendered dimension of conversion is accompanied by a national dimension, mainly created by the automatic citizenship granted by law to Jews in Israel. The link between religion and nationality also has economic find racial aspects, as evidenced by the variety of circumstances surrounding inter-religious families in Israel. This case study provides a rich example of the tension between a socio-legal regime that tries to preserve its republican collective norms, and the liberal, individualistic, post-national normative reality of families in the global era.

Henkin, Yehuda Herzl. "On the psak concerning Israeli conversions." Hakirah 7 (2009) 19-23

Abstract: Disputes the accuracy of R. Sherman’s rulings. These rulings centered on two major points. “First, that the absence of full and honest acceptance of the commandments, as proven by circumstances (umdena demuchach), totally invalidates a conversion. Second, that this is accepted halachah, and that those who act to the contrary are disqualified as witnesses and, consequently, as dayanim as well. Therefore, all conversions they perform are ipso facto null and void."

Rader, Michael. “On Ending the Conversion Crisis in Israel: A Halachic Appeal” Mosaic (Cambridge, MA) 22 (1998) 20-32.

Abstract: Rader's "central argument...is that the laws of conversion can be applied in a substantially more lenient manner than most people realize. Of vital importance for contemporary purposes,]ewish sources are particularly supportive of conversion in Israel."

Berkovits, Eliezer. "Conversion and the decline of oral law (1974)." Essential Essays on Judaism. Shalem Center 2002. (Originally printed as “Conversion ‘according to the Halakhah’- what is it?” Judaism 23, 4 (1974) 467-478.)

Abstract: Uses the conversion crisis in the state of Israel to explore the phrase "al pi halacha" (according to Halachah). The article looks at what it means what someone says that a convert must abide by halacha and how this meaning has changed over the course of time.

Sassoon, Isaac. Let No Ger Spend the Night Outdoors. Published in, Ideas: Jewish Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals. April, 2009.

Abstract: Traces this history and meaning of the conversion ritual in order to show the inaccuracies among Rabbinical establishment in Israel.

Silverstone, Meir, and Menachem Elon. "Law of Return" Encyclopaedia Judaica. Eds. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. Vol. 12. 2nd ed. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 541-545. 22 vols. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Gale. HEBREW UNION COLLEGE. 26 July 2010