Opinion: With a wave of western aliyah expected, the state must recognize conversions conducted by non-Orthodox rabbinical courts and marriages officiated by non-Orthodox rabbis, and it must legislate for egalitarian prayer at Western Wall

Israel appears to be on the verge of a wave of immigration by Jews from First World countries in North America, Western Europe and Australia.

Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog believes that up to a quarter of a million Jews will be moving to Israel (making aliyah) in the next three years.

Young Jews who immigrated to Israel
Young Jews who immigrated to Israel (Photo: Nefesh B’Nefesh)


Israel must make the challenge of absorbing these immigrants a national priority – as was done with earlier waves of immigration.

As a Zionist nation, especially one that has recently added to its basic law the Nation-State Bill defining Israel as the national homeland of the Jews, we must prepare for the challenges this wave of immigration will pose, among them challenges of a cultural nature.

Israel must immediately recognize different Jewish streams that much of the Northern American Jewish community ascribes to.

Israel is not the private property of Jewish Orthodoxy. It belongs to the Jewish nation, all of it and it is incumbent on the current coalition government to institute recognition of that fact.

There must be recognition of conversions conducted by non-Orthodox rabbinical courts, marriages officiated by non-Orthodox rabbis and it must legislate egalitarian prayer opportunities at the Western Wall.

נשות הכותל
Members of the multi-denominational Women of the Wall organization praying at the Western Wall (Photo: EPA)


Unfortunately, there is no indication that any of those necessary steps would be taken.

On the contrary, ultra-Orthodoxy has all but completely usurped the country’s religious institutions, allowing the rabbinate to hound immigrants from the former Soviet bloc who must prove over and over again that they are in fact Jewish.

The arrival in the 1990s of more than one million Jews who fled the totalitarian Soviet regime that suppressed any religious expression is no less than miraculous.

Throughout many years of oppression, some of these Jews married outside the faith, not all pass the stringent scrutiny of the Halachic definition of a Jew, but their arrival was legitimate and based on the Law of Return.

A true spiritual leadership would have rejoiced in their presence and extended its embrace to include all those who have chosen move to Israel.

As reported by Ynetnews