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.
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.
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.