A "flexible" attitude to racial purity (example)
29 December 1990
Let’s open both the heavenly and earthly gates
It may be that 30 percent of the Soviet Jews are not Jewish according to Jewish law. Perhaps more than 30 percent ? or less than 5 percent ? belong in this category. No one knows.
But it is clear that a majority ? a large majority, perhaps 95 percent ? are linked by family relationships to Jews. A Jewish husband marries a non-Jewish wife and the children are not Jewish according to Halacha. A Jewish woman marries a non-Jewish husband and the children are Jewish according to the Halacha. Men and women of any age are not Jewish if they were born to a non-Jewish mother.
But they are immigrating to Israel…
Here they will absorb Judaism whether they want to or not. Here they will learn the Tora and Hebrew literature. Here they will serve in the Israeli Army and perhaps even fall in defense of Israel. Here they will be converted according to Halacha if they wish, and most indeed wish it, certainly those intending to join their destiny to ours.
The Jewish people lost one third of its sons and daughters in the Holocaust, and another portion in waves of assimilation.
The Jews can absorb another people if they want to live in our midst and take upon themselves our religion, our nationality.
Many will do thus, willingly, sooner or later. Most will do it sooner.
Judaism is not racist; it takes into its ranks ? lovingly, freely, without coercion ? whoever chooses of his own free will to join this congregation and adopt the obligations of conversion.
It is therefore a serious mistake that Absorption Minister Rabbi Ytizhak Peretz has committed by raising a stormy, raucous argument about the Jewishness of immigrants from Russia.
Instead of opening hearts to all those arriving, displaying the pleasantness of our Jewish faith, opening up for them the Gates of Heaven at the same time as we open the gates to our Land, he drives them away from us, and distances himself from most of Israel, which desires this immigration with all its heart and might.
We must, in this matter, voice praise for Agudat Yisrael and Rabbi Menhem Porush, who declared, also publicly, our obligation to absorb every immigrant from the Soviet Union without classificaation, reservation or seletion.
This he did out of the hope (which has a viable foundation) that here, in the Land of the Jews, even those who are not Jewish will become Jewish.
Peretz should rethink his stand. There is no need more Jewish than this…
(The writer is Labor MK and a professor of political science)