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Am Echad weekly update for the week of January 23, 2022

The conversion reform

  • Kahana's new Head of the Conversion Authority: the conversion reform is extremely problematic

Channel 12 revealed on Saturday night that Rabbi Benayahu Brunner, who was recently appointed by Minister of Religious Services Matan Kahana to head the Conversion Authority, spoke out against the conversion reform in a class he had given a few weeks ago. Rabbi Brunner said that the reform is problematic, adding "I am not sure this is the way." He pointed out that conversions performed by city rabbis would open the door to bypassing the Chief Rabbinate, itself being "very problematic." According to Brunner, the motivation to bypass the Rabbinate lies in its unwillingness to convert minors living in non-observant homes. "I'm not at ease with the lenient option," he added.

  • Kahana: We should “woo” Zera Israel and convert them

Minister of Religious Services Matan Kahana said on Monday that the State of Israel "should woo Zera Israel (children of Jewish fathers) and bring them to Judaism according to halacha." Kahana said that he perceives "a deep rift in the Israeli society, which in my opinion is caused by the tension between state and religion, and it's time for both parties to be flexible."

It should be noted that according to Halacha, converts should not be “wooed” to Judaism.

BDS and Anti-Israel Bias

  • Progressive rabbis condemn house demolition in Shimon Hatzaddik/Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood

The progressive rabbis' organization T'ruah issued a statement condemning the demolition of a Palestinian house in Jerusalem's Shimon Hatzaddik/Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. The house, demolished after a court appeal had been denied, was built illegally on public land designated for a school for Arab children with special needs. Nevertheless, T'ruah CEO Jill Jacobs stated that "Israeli officials' claims that the house needed to be demolished to make way for a new school were simply a pretext for the eviction," and noted that "T’ruah has consistently opposed expulsions from Sheikh Jarrah." She hinted that despite zoning consideration, this operation was part of a goal of "Judaizing" the neighborhood.

  • German court cancels a ban on BDS, citing violation of freedom of expression

The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig ruled that the city of Munich violated the right to freedom of expression when it restricted the BDS movement. The city is obliged to allow events held by the BDS movement and to allow the movement access to the municipal hall. Munich's Mayor Dieter Reiter called the ruling a major setback that would affect many Jewish residents of the city. He said he expected the court to give more consideration to the need to protect minorities rather than to allowing more freedom of expression.


  • Reports: Antisemitism is on the rise worldwide, while in the US 24% of young Jews support BDS

Two reports, one by the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs and another by the Ruderman Family Fund indicate a sharp rise in antisemitism worldwide. The reports, published ahead of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marked today (Thursday), show that 25% of US Jews had been a target of an antisemitic act in the past year. 42% experienced antisemitism directly or through a close person over the past 5 years. When it comes to "visible Jews," the Orthodox, 72% experienced antisemitism directly or via a close person over the past 5 years.

Meanwhile, 24% of young US Jews support BDS. 41% of American Jews are convinced that Arab-Israelis don't have equal voting rights, and 27% think that Arabs cannot vote at all in Israel.

Antisemitism peaked in the UK too, setting a decades' record, with 1,308 antisemitic events during the first half of 2021. In cyberspace, Paris was ranked as the city with the highest number of antisemitic web users. Overall, the Antisemitic Cyber Monitoring System tracked 3.5 million antisemitic posts during the past year in English, French, German, Russian, Spanish and Arabic. The Antisemitic Cyber Monitoring System, operates 24/7 to monitor social media antisemitic discourse.


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