“An internal Holocaust”

March 4, 2015 by Henry Benjamin
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A leading Israeli rabbi has told a meeting in Sydney that world Jewry is currently experiencing “an internal Holocaust”.

Dr Ron Weiser

Dr Ron Weiser

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin and former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy have addressed a function in Sydney on the problem facing thousands of Russian immigrants to Israel unable to prove their Jewish heritage and denied the right to a Jewish marriage or burial in their new country.

Former president of the State Zionist Council of NSW Dr Ron Weiser set the tone of the evening by saying: ” We in this room together with Jews from around the world brought Jews to Israel  to join the nation of Israel and we told them ‘you are Jews – come under the Law of Return and you will be welcome with open arms’. And then we said to some who could not prove that they were Jewish ‘sorry you can’t marry”. He explained that they could serve in the IDF…and that they could die serving in the IDF but they could not be buried in a Jewish cemetery. Weiser said the position is “intolerable” adding that the Triguboff Institute has as its central theme and as its main function, the fight against  this thread to Jewish continuity.”

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin from Efrat in his introductory remarks said that less than eight decades ago “we lost one-third of our people” and that once again the Jewish people found themselves in a “state of crisis” describing what we are going through today as “an internal Holocaust”. He said that 71.2% of American Jewry today intermarry and that 90% of the products of these intermarriages “no longer describe themselves as being of Jewish descent.” Rabbi Riskin said: “We lost a third in the Holocaust. We are losing two-thirds in the Holocaust we are bringing upon ourselves. In Europe, it’s not 71.2%. It’s 80-90% in many cases.”

Rabbi Riskin told his audience of community leaders at Double Bay’s Intercontinental Hotel that over one million Jews had emigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union after Perestroika. 350,000 of them were not born of Jewish mothers.

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin

He said a very large percentage of them “were born of Jewish fathers” and that there were now over 100,000 children attending school in Israel who are not legally Jewish adding that these children would serve in the IDF but if they became a fatal casualty of war “they could not be buried in a Jewish cemetery”. Rabbi Riskin said the grieving parents would say: “He was Jew enough to die for his country but he wasn’t Jew enough to be buried in a Jewish cemetery.”

The rabbi told the audience that the time had come not to consider intermarriage as a tragedy but an opportunity.

He said: “The 350,000 plus their children in Israel who are of paternal descendants..the Jewish sources are indubitably clear…someone of paternal descent is not technically Jewish but he is existentially Jewish…he has Jewish DNA which includes divine natural association as well as genetic association. He needs a technical conversion. But he has every right to be returned to the bosom of his Jewish family….with love, ease and with tremendous sensitivity.”

Shalom Norman

Shalom Norman

Shalom Norman who has worked in conjunction with the Triguboff Institute told the gathering of his experience in the work he has been involved in attempting to get Russians without sufficient evidence of of their Jewish heritage to convince the Israeli rabbinical authorities to effect conversions.

Norman reported on what advances had been made to date. He said that over 20,000 Jews from Russia and Ukraine were expected to immigrate to Israel in 2015 and that over 70% would be accepted under the Law of Return as a non-Jew. He said: “This is a big challenge. Around 10-15% of them will be 100% halachically Jewish but we cannot find the evidence.”

He said that they had now registered over 14,000 Russians who are now 100% Jewish through the organisation. Russians wishing to emigrate who cannot fully evidence their lineage will participate in Jewish studies before making the move to Israel saying this will facilitate conversion on arrival.

He thanked Harry Triguboff for his support in the efforts being made to establish Jewish identity calling him “the tailwind” of the campaign, mentioning that offices had been opened in key areas of the former Soviet Union. He said that it was necessary to get full involvement from the Diaspora.

Efraim Halevy

Efraim Halevy

Efraim Halevy is a former Israeli Ambassador to the EU and Head of Mossad between 1998 and 2002…and Israel’s chair of the Triguboff Institute.

He said that “we are trying to change the course of history and to save the Jewish people from a self-made Holocaust.”

He spoke about the campaign to rescue Ethiopian Jews from the Sudan saying Israel risked the lives of military and naval personnel to rescue the Jews of Ethiopia and bring them to safety. Efraim Halevy added: “We did many things in the camps of Sudan. One thing we did not do…we never asked any Jew to provide proof of his Judaism. If they said they were Jews we took their word for it. When they came to Israel, they were not forced to go through all the procedures which attain to conversion. They were collective accepted as Jews.” He added that they went through a physical procedure but not a religious one.

Efraim Halevy said he first visited Moscow in 1956 to make preparation for a music festival in 1957 which would see Israeli youth visiting the Russian capital. This preceded well in advance the 1970 Brussels Conference which created the “Let My People Go” campaign. He said that conditions were imposed on Russian Jews, accepted as Jews, moving to Israel that they were not allowed to consider any other destination. “This placed upon us a solemn obligation to take the steps that were necessary to do what has to be done.” He spoke of other groups which had been accepted by rabbis without

Harry Triguboff

Harry Triguboff

question. Speaking of the conversion of Russians unable to prove halachic roots he said “it’s do-able…its halachically do-able.”

Efraim Halevy added: “We are not asking for a change in halacha. We asking for halacha to be applied equally to everyone who wants to become a Jew.”

Harry Triguboff said: “I have always been very proud and very happy that I was born Jewish. We owe to the generations to come that they should feel the same. Every year there will be less 100% Jews and all of you will have the same problem. Somebody in the family will find somebody who is not 100% Jewish…beyond any doubt..and they will drift away.”

Triguboff spoke of making conversions and acceptance “a lot simpler” adding “we should let the rabbinate in Israel know of how we feel”.

He said there were rabbis in Israel who “are happy to help”.  Harry Triguboff pointed out that in Israel a person can only be converted by a rabbi who operates in the area in which the applicant lives. He explained that the organisation he supports works on the ground in Russia and the Ukraine to prepare those wanting to make the move to Israel so that they can be accepted in Israel “with open arms and not made to feel inferior or different”.

















12 Responses to ““An internal Holocaust””
  1. David says:

    Maybe this is the holocaust of orthodox halachic definitions of who is/isn’t a Jew.

    and maybe .. just maybe … the death of that definition is long overdue.

  2. David says:

    I find one comment interesting “we arent looking to change halacha”… interesting…

    halacha says that a woman cant innitiate a divorce. If her husband doesnt want to release her … she’s stuck for life.

    Sounds like this person doesnt know very much about halacha for if he knew … he would want to destroy it the same way we want to destroy Sunny Islam.

  3. Eleonora Mostert says:

    Sorry, I couldn’t even get through 10% of the comments. From what I now understand…. one can have a parent who is say…, a black African and another parent of Chinese decent and undergo a conversion to Judaism and be considered a Jew. But if your Father is Jewish/Hebrew but your Mother is Gentile (and clearly have Jewish DNA)…. you’re not Jewish/Hebrew….. but, if your Mother is Jewish/Hebrew and your Father is Gentile you are considered Jewish/Hebrew???? Wow no wonder I’m confused…. as I read in the scriptures with all the begatting that was going on… it was the Father who was mentioned…. Gee Whiz and Golly Gosh,all I can say is, NUTS!PS.Rabbi Wolfe, SOME ENLIGHTENMENT WOULD HELP. I’m sooo CONFUSED.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Yes, Ms Mostert, you are absolutely right, you are confused although the matter of Jewish identity according to chalacha is not at all confusing.

  4. Gabrielle Gouch says:

    This is a problem. But how dare you call it a Holocaust? How there you trivialise what millions of people went through during WWII?

    As far as this problem is concerned introduce civil marriages and secular burials, not only for the Soviet Jews, but for Israelis. I lived there and I know that many go to Cyprus to get married so they can avoid the religious rituals they do not believe in.

  5. David Bedein says:

    The context of this piece should be addressed.

    In 1997, Dr. Alex Lubotzky, a liberal Orthodox academic from Efrat, who then served as a member of Israel’s Knesset Parliament, conducted a survey of recent non Jewish immigrants who had arrived from the former Soviet Union, to determine if they indeed had an interest in conversion to Judaism, under the most lenient of procedures.

    Dr. Lubotsky received 200,000 responses to his survey, of whom less than 3,000 indicated any interest in conversion to Judaism, even under the most lenient of circumstances.

    Today, there are tens of non Jewish neighborhoods of former Russians who live their lives as non Jews and as Israeli citizens.

    Rabbi Shlomo Riskin has done wonders to reach out to non Jewish former Russians who want to become Jewish.

    The time has come for a new study to be commissioned as to how many of the non Jewish former Russians in Israel really want to become Jewish so that we would know what are the dimensions of the population who would like to be Jewish in addition to being Israeli citizens. Are we talking about 5, 10, 50 or 80%?

    Our agency would be pleased to conduct such a study -If one of the philanthropists quoted in this article would d finance a professional survey of all non Jews who have arrived at Israel’s shores over the past 25 years to determine if they have any interest in becoming Jewish.

    ​David Bedein, MSW
    Israel Resource News Agency
    Center for Near East Policy Research
    Beit Agron
    37 Hillel Street, Suite 105-106
    Jerusalem 94581 Israel

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      There have been, also, some reports of Russian emigrants, let’s call them “olim”, who have adapted so well into the Israeli spirit of (almost) unlimited freedom of expression based on the ” Ma pitom !!!!!” principle, who have taken to certain good ol’ kossack ways of stating their “objections” to matters…….Jewish right there in Eretz Zion. What the hell, they are outright antisemites of the worst kind.

      In essence, objecting to the “trouble” of a mere process of adopting, even if superficially, for the occasion, traditional Jewish customs, could be seen as tantamount to rejecting basic Jewish values, a distancing from the very essence of the State of Israel, objecting to the notion of a Jewish STATE. What is so laudable about that, why would anyone barrack for such an attitude !!! How can Am Israel, its CONTINUITY benefit from DILUTING Jewish values !!!
      In a realistic discourse, we may not mix up Israel’s dept. of Absorbtion with the Zahal and then throw in the Rabbinate. All those who wish to emigrate to Israel from, say, Russia, Ukraine etc. and ARE FULLY AWARE of the degree of their chalachic status , may not act surprised if the same Chalacha in Israel deems them something … they knew about. Same with the army service. Once an Israeli citizen, once again FULLY aware of what Israel expects in strict religious terms, may not act surprised if, while not acceding to certain known procedures , will be “treated” accordingly. These are false arguments which allow absurdities to become legitimate “reasons”. Simply put, you can’t have it both , let alone three or more ways. By the same token, it can be accepted that one would be loyal to the security of the country in which he/she lives and serve in the respective army, while opting for a certain religious way of life, or NON religious way of life. It is perfectly normal, logical. I would venture that those in Israel who do NOT want to embrace chalachic strictness, would not require, kindly ask any kind hearted pro bono volunteers to go into bat for them. It does not make sense that, if someone refuses to be a Jew in life, would prefer to be regarded as such in death !!!
      DO NOT COME BACK TO ME AGAIN ABOUT SERVING IN THE ARMY !!! Remember the famous ” You Don’t Have to be Jewish !!!”. I think it had Zero Mostel in it or was it Lee J Coby !! ( you can come back to me with the cast list )

  6. Michael Jaku says:

    Very unfortunate choice of words!

  7. Avigael Cassel says:

    The Australian Leadership and Rabbinate does not address the issue for Australian Jews and Geirim for Jewish Status, even today. So do you really think that anyone in Australia gives a rats tail about Russians or Ethiopians who have nothing to do with them? Until Australia decides to get its act together to stop the Australian Rabbinate destroying Australian Jews, then the Internal Shoah continues unchecked.

    Australia is big on talk backed with not only no action, the opposite actions to destroy, not build Australian Jews lives. I will be in contact with the speakers to inform them they are wasting their breath in Australia. Until Australia cleans house, which it refuses to do due to the corruption, forget it. All need to be warned that Australia is the cesspit of corruption and refuses to address that. Even post Royal Commission, its business as usual despite the rhetoric.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Avigael, I read your comments and so impressed by your choice of words and “images” created, it occurred to me at once : “Wouldn’t Avigael’s text make for a perfect Broadway musical, well, at first off Broadway…”
      All that passion, rhythm and touch of humor… I could see Fred dancing on it. I even considered a title: “Get a life !!!”.

      • Avigael Cassel says:

        Well thats precisely the problem isnt it Otto? Australians prefer the entertainment to the actual responsibility side, perhaps thats why no one takes responsibility for their actions or even worse, their inaction ? Real life Drama of the Australian Galut would trump any fiction anyday. Where else can you get clowns dressed up as Rabbinate, to commit evil crimes and rule the World with their Rebbe power ???

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