I have been thinking about the conversion law being considered in Israel since we first decided to make aliyah in June and it has continued to eat away at me since. I remain optimistic that the Israeli Supreme Court ruling will hold but that fails to ease my fear. I am living in fear that my dream will be taken away from me and that the future that I was hoping to provide for my wife and our future children will disappear.
I can understand the need to oversee the conversion process as many such conversions in the US are lacking but many sincere converts have taken significant steps along the way to ensure that all the proper steps were taken. I have seen the extremes within the reform and conservative movements and can see, and to a certain extent agree, that some should not be recognized.
However, if the convert is heartfelt in their devotion to Hashem and the Jewish people and is willing to shoulder the burdens that come with that I have no issue in welcoming them as a Jew. But, beyond the commandment of circumcision, the Beit Din, and the Mikvah, there are a few things that, I believe, converts should be required to agreed upon (some of which you have the right to disagree with):
1. Acceptance of the Torah as the word of Hashem (I am a little lenient so divinely inspired is acceptable);
2. Acceptance the mitzvoth and the obligation to fulfill them and strive to do so throughout their life;
3. Acceptance of the fact that learning never stops and they must strive to be closer to Hashem;
4. Proclaim their willingness to join their fate with that of the Jewish people;
5. Acknowledgement of Israel as the rightful home of the Jewish people;
6. Pledge their willingness to defend Israel and its right to exist;
This is a simple, and incomplete, list but I think it is a decent overview and a reasonable starting point. With all this said, if you chose to make aliyah you should be held to a higher standard upon your acceptance into the Homeland (i.e. you shouldn’t walk around in a tank top and shorts every day, you must learn Hebrew and shouldn’t avoid speaking it by moving into an “Anglo” community, etc.) because one should show respect both for their people and their home.
In the end, it is a give and take. Israel must adapt to the needs of Diaspora Jewry and those of us currently in the Diaspora must adapt to the needs of Israel and the Orthodox Rabbinate. We are one people with one home.
Hashem, please let us go home!