A committee appointed by Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennet has determined that there are 60 million people around the world who have an affinity for Judaism and the state of Israel, and that there are communities among them that could be candidates for Judaism and Israeli citizenship.
The committee presented the government with a report calling on it to identify communities with an affinity for Israel, imbue them with qualities that are connected to the state and Judaism, and devise a plan to bring them to Israel in order to convert “individuals, groups and communities that are found suitable.”
According to the report, the populations in question include descendants of Jews who don’t quality for citizenship under the Law of Return, like those who converted out of the religion, and communities that claim to belong to the Jewish people but require conversion, like the Falash Mura from Ethiopia and the Bnei Menashe from India.
It also includes descendants of Marranos and of Jews in Eastern Europe who hid their Judaism out of fear of the Communist regime, as well as groups in Africa and Asia that claim a distant connection to Judaism and those who simply feel a “spiritual and ideological” closeness to the Jewish people.
Yad L’Achim, which has been leading the battle against assimilation, responded to the report with an immediate appeal to the Chief Rabbis of Israel. In a special letter, officials warned that the committee’s recommendations constitute a platform for mass conversions that have no basis in Halachah and, as such, represent an existential threat to the Jewish nation.
“It is inconceivable that we will allow the walls of Halachah to be breached in order to create an artificial demographic solution [vis a vis Israel’s Arab population]. The solution is to build up Am Yisrael, not the opposite.”
Yad L’Achim also turned to Diaspora Affairs Minister Bennet and other ministers and stressed the dangers of implementing the report’s findings.
Yad L’Achim officials took particular exception to the clause in the report calling for the recognition of Jews who converted out and bringing them to Israel, stressing that this would give an official state hechsher to Jews who belong to Christian missionary cults like “Messianic Jews” and others to join the Jewish people.
“Even the High Court of Justice has ruled that Jews who converted out as part of the Messianic Jews cult are not considered Jews and can’t be admitted to Israel under the Law of Return,” the organization said.