Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

Convert the Orthodox rabbis!

Let’s go over a few timely arguments in light of the Israeli High Court validation of Reform and Conservative conversions done in Israel.

Much Ado About Nothing

The celebration or revulsions about this decision are all based on nothing but scoring points for the constituents. In 1988, the court already decided that Reform or Conservative-Jewish affiliation is enough for the Law of Return. Those communities did hardly exist in Israel and they were not included. For decades, the Israeli government did nothing to include them so now the court has included them. Basically, it didn’t change a thing.

And the non-Caucasian Jewish communities have all streams integrated. It is racist to think that Ashkenazic Jews are representative of all Jews. They are the only ones who split up between Ultra-Orthodox, Modern-Ultra-Orthodox, Orthodox, Modern-Orthodox, Flexidox, Religious, Traditional, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, and Secular, to name a couple.

The only real but most pressing issue here is that an enormous number of Israelis are waiting or hoping for an acknowledgment as Jews.

Gray is the New Black

The media and politics polarize the situation. They make it seem as if people are Jewish or are not. While there is a whole gray area in the issue, quietly acknowledged by the rabbis.

When you come to a Rabbinic Court and say: I want to be a Jew, the rabbis ask why? I like Jews. They say: Continue to be our friend. Being a Jew is not simple. We see no reason to make your life difficult.

But when you come with the same request and clarify: Because my father is a Jew, they understand. They will help you immediately.

The whole idea that you have two qualities of people comes from assimilation to Dualism, not true Monotheism.

Jewish Law doesn’t say who is a Jew. It regulates who to acknowledge and count as a Jew. The Redeemer will rule who else is Jewish too.

Meanwhile, for the secular Jewish State, IMHO, those are enough Jewish whom Nazis hate. This clearly includes the Reformists and Conservatives.

Selectively Modern

I have no trouble with the Amish. They reject modernity, period. But I abhor those hypocrites who say that only Maimonides can rule over who is Jewish but don’t hesitate to switch on the light or use an elevator.

Maimonides says that conversion means the acceptance of the Commandments. But that was in a time that everyone was religious.

Clearly now, we see Jews who are faithfully (pardon the pun) Jewish but totally secular. Why couldn’t someone in 2021 join the Jewish People while being an Atheist? Especially if they do the greatest things under the sun for a Jew: live in the Holy Land, fight in the IDF, help in hospitals, etc.

If Maimonides would be alive today, he would call everyone a fool who just took his dated thought literally, as a substitute for fresh thinking.

It’s not the Learning or the Observance, Stupid

For those (few) who would like and dare to think, instead of just parrot what others said, the issue is not if a (prospective) convert has learned enough or is willing to observe enough. The real issue is character traits.

If you’re humble, kind, abhorring bloodshed, honest, stubborn, you could be(come) a Jew — if you’re not, it’s doubtful if you could ever be one.

It’s just like driving a car. Of course, you must learn and keep the rules. But in the end, your success is mainly determined by your style at the wheel.

Learning and observance are important because they can cause a change in or fortify certain character traits over time. Behavior is easily changed and not so crucial. Character traits have permanency about them.

Temporary Converts

One cannot revoke one’s Jewish status. Unless one can make it plausible that one lied at the moment of conversion. Also, when one stops being a Jew, that may have tremendous consequences for the person, family, and congregation. This is not something to toy or experiment with.

Instead of citizenship, there is temporary citizenship. No reason why the Rabbis should not institute temporary convert status. If, after several years, you’re still deeply connected to the Jewish People, you may get your permanent passport. Until then, you count on the spot (minyan, voting), but not for the longer term (like for marriage, unless with a fellow temp).

To issue such rulings, clergy must not just care about themselves.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500th blog post with the ToI. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To find his earlier blog posts on a certain subject XXX, among his over 1200 ones, go to the right-top corner of the Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". His second daily active less tame blog, to which one may subscribe, one may find here: or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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