Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ruth: the Israeli Citizen?

Original Article on +972 Magazine

It is few and far between when I will bring an article from a source that I have little to no agreement with, let alone an author that I have diametric opposition to. It is also rare that I will react to an article, as opposed to offering my commentary.

However, I find this article to be a personal attack. I must state in the beginning that I have never met Anat Hoffman, nor would I like to. Her views, I find, are harmful to Israel and to Torah True Judaism in general and I feel she should be forgotten about in the annals of Jewish History. Strong words, I know, but when you are fired upon, it doesn't make sense to sit and offer a peace treaty.

This article, written by Anat Hoffman, Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center of Jerusalem, is nothing more than an attack on the standards of Israel and its laws of Aliyah. Her almost humorous attempt at trying to show the "flaws" in the Aliyah process and standards of Israel is the epitome of short-sightedness. I laugh at her ability to bring the Holy Torah into the mix when discussing the semi-Secular laws in Israel.

Ruth the Moabite, from Megillas Rus, which is read on the holiday of Shavuos, was a convert. She converted to marry and was proven to be a serious convert and was accepted into the Jewish people. She was so accept, in fact, that her progeny, David ben Yishai is known to us as David haMelech, King David. Her acceptance into the Jewish people is unquestioned. Ms. Hoffman's farcical citizenship letter is an embarrassment to Judaism in general.

Why do I feel so strongly about this? Why is it so important to have a correct halachic world view when dealing with the right of Citizenship? Why do I reject her views on Israel and Judaism?

This is not because I am object to Reform or Conservative Judaism. I have my personal feelings on these sections of Judaism which are not important. I reject her views because in her world, which spews rhetoric of  acceptance and openness, refuses to accept the Torah and people who accept the Torah. We, the Torah observant community, are the backward ones. We are antiquated and we are close-minded. In fact, it is so close-minded that it took me, a halachic Ger, a convert, from Seattle and accepted me into Israel, into Yeshivas in Israel, into Yeshivas in New York and accepted my marriage to my wife, a Jew born into being Jewish. My little daughter will have no problem, in the eyes of the Haredi world, will have no problem marrying a Jew in the Haredi world or, please G-d, have no problem making Aliyah if she so chooses.

When Ms. Hoffman brings the "halachic" view of Ruth, it is an absolute oxymoron and when she brings halacha into the mix, it is like an amateur chess player playing Bobby Fischer. The foundation is weak, therefore the structure of her entire argument is not solid.

Israel has it's flaws. It is not a perfect country. Far from it. It is, however, our country. The country where Jews can live as they like. If you want to be secular, be our guest. If you want to be a Haredi, be our guest. It makes no difference to government, as long as Israel remains strong. Israel's laws of Aliyah and Right of Return were established for a reason. To make exceptions in these rules can be called Nepotism. Israel has enough troubles in the world then to start calling attention to their flimsy laws. The Ministry of the Interior's rejection of this application for Ruth would have been correct then as it is now. Regardless of her pedigree, which is well documents in Jewish literature, supporting documents attesting to her conversion, her marriage and other important pieces, were not included.

The reason why Israel doesn't, and I hope continues to not accept "verbal" conversions, is because Judaism is not all inclusive. Everyone, Jewish or not Jewish, has a share in the World to Come. Everyone has a right to settle into Israel. However, without a showing of commitment, why would we accept people into the nation that have no intention of following the rules. It leads to the destruction of the Jewish people. Our history is fraught with cases and time periods of people trying to destroy the Jewish people from the inside, Hellenism, Reform movement, Haskalah. We should have a standard of conversion, which leads to stronger Aliyah laws, that keeps to the tradition of Judaism that has kept the Jewish people around for 3,000 + years.

Ms. Hoffman, I am sorry that you feel that Judaism is meant to be bent to your will. Obviously, you don't know better. Please align yourself with the side of Pro-Israel and Pro-Jewish groups. Your liberal views will not prevail. There may be small victories here and there for your liberal camp, but pay no attention to them. In the end, what is right will prevail and your close-minded groups will be merely a footnote in Jewish history, leaving a bad taste in the mouth of Jews.


  1. hi very interesting piece. i just wanted to say that the israel religious action center has represented many haredi and ultra-orthodox israelis over the years gaining them equal opportunities in employment and preventing discrimination against them in various arenas. the organization has many haredi clients. they also respect the religious observance and traditions of the communities so long as these are not imposed on the public sphere.

  2. Abraham, if you do read this again, Ms. Hoffman works for the Center, which does do great work. And she herself may have done some good things, but this type of silliness detracts from her standing in my eyes.

    She should be concerned with community issues and stay out of Halacha and whatever Laws are tied to it, i.e.; Israel's Laws of Conversion.

    But you are correct. The Center has done some really great work. I will sing their praises when they do good, but when they do bad, I will make sure people know it. The ACLU used to be a good organization as so much.