Monday, September 10, 2007

Germany’s Legacy to the Jews *

* And how Reform Judaism plays a role.

Nazi Germany gave Israel one last parting gift before being defeated by the Allies.

When Israel defined the Law of Return, the primordial Israeli architects decided to base their definition of “Who is a Jew” not according to Jewish Halacha, but rather on Nazi Germany’s Nuremberg laws. The logic, if you were persecuted as a Jew, then you were eligible to come to Israel.

When Israel refined the Law of Return, the Israeli architects decided to base their definition of “Who is a Jew” mostly according to Jewish Halacha (with certain exceptions and ambiguities), but determined that eligibility under the immigration laws would be similar to Nazi Germany’s Nuremberg style definitions. The logic, if you were persecuted as a Jew, then you were eligible to come to Israel.

Ben-Gurion allegedly called it the “grandfather clause" and Israel’s response to Hitler.

[Reader Jerry correctly pointed out in the comments section, that the law actually defines 'Who is a Jew' almost based on Halacha, but the Law of Return itself only uses the definition of who is a Jew as the basis for applying the Nuremberg-style rules as to who qualifies to emmigrate under that law - i.e. anyone 1/8 Jewish (or married to someone like that) is eligible to return).]

From the Knesset Website:



"Rights of members of family
4A. (a) The rights of a Jew under this Law
and the rights of an oleh under the Nationality Law, 5712-1952***, as well as the rights of an oleh under any other enactment, are also vested in a child and a grandchild of a Jew, the spouse of a Jew, the spouse of a child of a Jew and the spouse of a grandchild of a Jew, except for a person who has been a Jew and has voluntarily changed his religion.

and

Definition
4B. For the purposes of this Law, "Jew" means a person who was born of a Jewish mother or has become converted to Judaism and who is not a member of another religion."

A logical idea, if your sole rationale for the state is as a physical sanctuary as opposed to a Jewish state to fulfill our national destiny.

And of course, Reform Judaism (also a product of Germany) and the Fundamental Secularists has strongly defended this definition of the Law of Return as their definition of Jewish is just as diluted and limited.

The result is that when the Iron Curtain fell and all the Russian Jews returned home to Israel quite a sizeable contingent of non-Jews used this as an opportunity immigrate to Israel too.

And with no real connection to Jews or Judaism, they brought certain parts of their culture with them.

Yet you would certainly expect that after living in Israel, going to Israeli schools, and living in Israeli society that they would start to feel some sort of connection to their chosen society.

But that is really too much to expect.

After all, we have an Education Minister trying to remove any remnant of Jewish education from the curriculum, while disconnecting Jewish secular students from their sole potential connection to Orthodox Jews by canceling the National Service arrangements with the schools, not to mention adding Arab propaganda to the curriculum.

We have Reform Judaism trying their best to promote their diluted form of Judaism and simply calling non-Jews Jews with mock conversions (not to mention attempting to disconnect ‘Temple and State’ in Israel).

And the Fundie Secularists are doing their best to simply remove Judaism from Israel (except perhaps from the museum).

So what chance does a non-Jewish Russian immigrant have if he was already introduced to Nazi culture in Russia, brought it with him, and has no wholesome or Jewish culture/values to replace them with?

I’d say none at all.

Maybe it's time to put Jewish back into the Jewish State.

(This post does not necessarily represent the opinions of Jameel)

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

15 comments:

Safranit said...

This should provoke some interesting comments

Jerry said...

You really have no idea what you're talking about.

First read the Law of Return before you tell us all about it.

Paragraph 4b of the Law specifically defines a Jew as "מי שנולד לאם יהודיה או שנתגייר, והוא אינו בן דת אחרת".

Of course, this definition was only added in 1970, meaning that the law simply didn't have a definition for the first 20 years it was on the books.

However, since I'm sure you also have no idea how the court has defined a Jew, see the case of אח דניאל, where the hated Ahron Barak is actually MORE demanding than the halakhic Menachem Alon.

Jameel, can we keep this guy confined to his own blog?

JoeSettler said...

From the Knesset website:
http://www.knesset.gov.il/laws/special/eng/return.htm
"
4A. "Rights of members of family

(a) The rights of a Jew under this Law and the rights of an oleh under the Nationality Law, 5712-1952***, as well as the rights of an oleh under any other enactment, are also vested in a child and a grandchild of a Jew, the spouse of a Jew, the spouse of a child of a Jew and the spouse of a grandchild of a Jew, except for a person who has been a Jew and has voluntarily changed his religion. "

-

So you are correct that the law does define "Jew" according to Halacha (without defining conversion), but precedes that by allowing emmigration to Israel by exactly the same way the the Nuremberg laws defines a Jew.

It does not say the Right of Return is for Jews only as defined by Halacha, but for anyone with a Nuremberg style connection to being Jewish.

I will correct that mistake in the post.

JoeSettler said...

Regarding Brother Daniel,according to Halacha, BD is still a Jew (albeit a very bad one) and one for whom the door is still open to do Tshuva, and he needn't convert.

The state's definition here of "Who is a Jew" is not a halachic one.

JoeSettler said...

Except that he is dead.

Anonymous said...

personally, i like joe settler's contributions

there's too much censorship already - you don't have to like his opinions, jerry, but why do you want to stop him from sharing them with others who might - or who might want to have a sensible debate about it?

JoeSettler said...

I'm up for debate. Jerry pointed out a valid mistake in my post. I corrected it.

The point of my post is still very much correct.

Jerry said...

I have no problem with JS expressing his opinions.

I just think he doesn't know what he's talking about, and he uses Jameel's credibility to have his narishkeit taken seriously (see The Possibility of War with Syria at this Time).

I come here to see what Jameel has to say...

Regarding Brother Daniel- while he is Jewish according to the halakha (the only criteria Alon employs for the Right of Return), I can't imagine that he'd contribute to the Jewish "culture" you are advocating here.

I can only infer that you would therefore agree with Judge Barak, and not allow Brother Daniel to immigrate under the Law of Return.

Regarding Paragraph 4a- the Knesset did exactly what you are too narrow-minded to do. It recognizes that the State of Israel in fact has two purposes as a land for the Jewish people.

One purpose is for it to be the center of Jewish life and culture in the world (call it an Ahad Ha'Am vision), while the other is to protect those who are in danger because of their Jewishness (Herzl).

If the refugees from Sudan currently being shipped back to Egypt were being persecuted because of their Jewishness, even if they are not halakhically Jewish, they'd have the right to stay here, even though they don't contribute to a Jewish society that you love.

Apparently, you think that's wrong. Had the state of Israel existed during the Holocaust, you would not have granted citizenship (refuge? don't just say yes, it's a complicated legal issue without the right of return) to those who don't have a Jewish mother.

Hitler didn't care about a Jewish mother, and that's what the law is based on. We can build a Jewish society from here till tomorrow stacked with real live halakhic Jews, but we should also be protecting those who are persecuted because of their connection to Judaism.

By the way, the fact that Tel Aviv for the most part looks like any other cosmopolitan city, void of the Jewish culture you seek- is that the Russians' fault?

Where is this great Jewish society outside of the religious and perhaps the academics?

Anonymous said...

"I come here to see what Jameel has to say ..."

And how does Joe Settler impede you from accomplishing that? And is it only Joe Settler who succeeds in such impediment? Or do the ranks of impeders [is there such a word?] include the likes of Back Of The Hill, Jack's Shack, Must Gum Addict, etc.? IIRC, even Dov Bear has had a post or two show up here.

At any rate --

Shana tova umetuka lechol Beit Israel.

-- MAOZ

JoeSettler said...

Jerry,

1) As my regular readers know, my credibility is quite good.

2) You may come here to hear what Jameel has to say, but you clearly aren't reading what he writes.

You seem a bit confused,

First, I didn't write "The Possibility of War at this Time", and second, you clearly missed Jameel's "Elephant in the Room" post where Jameel discusses the possibility of war at this time.

3a) The issue in BDs case isn't whether I think BD would contribute or not but whether he should/would be allowed in based on the LoR.

As the LoR is primarily for offering quick sanctuary (as it was amended) to anyone who could be in danger because of their Jewish connection, then he should have been allowed in.

The Nazi's would consider BDs Jewishness enough of a reason to kill him, so the answer would be yes.

So if Hitler wanted to kill BD because he was a Jew, would Judge Barak still had still forbidden him immediate citizenship under this law? I’d say Barak would find himself in a paradox.

3b) Unless we’re reading different documents, I don’t see 4a doing any such thing about spreading Jewish culture, just Jewish demographics.

It merely identifies who is allowed to immigrate on the fast track. It hardly forbids BD from moving here and practicing and spreading his personal cultural vision.

5) Regarding your Sudanese example, many would ask exactly that about the Falasha Mura.

6) I haven’t and have never discussed whether refugees should or shouldn’t be let in (Jameel did, and I believe he said no) and under what circumstances or rules, nor what to do with your Hitler example.

I was explicitly discussing that the LoR as it stands right now is quite problematic and resulted in bringing/allowing Nazi wanabees to become citizens because it allowed people to fast track immigrate into Israel with no real connection to Jews or Judaism (while offering then plenty of financial benefits). This is very bad for Israel in the long (and short) term.

Israel should have a clear refugee policy, and that is a separate issue and should be a separate law. So yes, perhaps a non Jew with a Jewish connection could/should be fast tracked under the refugee law. But certainly not given immediate citizenship in the Jewish state, when he isn’t Jewish.

And as for your last question:

“Where is this great Jewish society outside of the religious and perhaps the academics? “

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Jack's Shack said...

Or do the ranks of impeders

That is it- no waffles for you. I just faxed Jameel the no waffle list and you are on it.

On a more serious note there are legitimate questions being raised here. Let me add something to that.

We have an opportunity to try and embrace more people, to bring them into Judaism and to try and see that they raise their children as Jews.

The question/issue is that if we limit the definition of who is a Jew are we making it unnecessarily harder for ourselves.

I suspect that some people will say that once you bend the rules on one thing you risk doing it for others.

I say that we need to do all that we can to make all Jews feel welcome.

JoeSettler said...

Hey Jack,

I don't think it is an issue of bending the rules. Israeli society clearly hasn't done a great job turning them into being or acting like Jews.

The definition of Jewish isn't directly (or indirectly) connected to being an Israeli. While the definition of Israeli is strongly connected to being Jewish.

But Israeli culture is hardly self-sustaining without Judaism (look at 2nd generation non-religious Israeli expats).

Jewish culture is self-sustaining.

Why should we break something that works to align it with the short-term needs of something that doesn't.

And I think it is a very false argument that Judaism needs to open the doors to survive. I think we need to concentrate on helping our wayward members rather than bringing in new wayward members.

Anonymous said...

Jack's Shack: No waffles?! Oy li! As Anita Bryant would've said: A day without waffles is like a day without...um...waffles.

Anyway, I hope you realize that my point wasn't that you should be kept off; rather, that Joe's offerings here, like yours, are welcome and appreciated.

-- MAOZ

Jack's Shack said...

MAOZ,

No worries. Every now and then it is kind of fun to pull the waffle card.

Oh the stories that I could tell. Just remember that the key to waffles is first, never eat them in cleveland and second, never live in cleveland.

Lax and Mandel is among the worst offenders oy vey.

Jack's Shack said...

And I think it is a very false argument that Judaism needs to open the doors to survive. I think we need to concentrate on helping our wayward members rather than bringing in new wayward members.

Joe,

I am not trying to say that our survival depends on bringing the flock home, but that we gain more strength by pulling them back.

Why should we break something that works to align it with the short-term needs of something that doesn't.

The question is whether it is really working.

And I'll bet a cartload of waffles that you will share more of your opinion on my blog. ;)

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