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Conversions in Israel - food for thought

Reader comment on item: Conversions in Israel

Submitted by Fred Schlomka (Israel), Jul 16, 2006 at 04:31

Christian converts to Judaism in Israel are almost all Russians. During the great Russian immigration to Israel in the 1990's, about a quaryer of them, over 250,000 people were Christian who qualified for immigration to Israel under the Law of Return due to their Jewish relatives. However to be fully accepted into Israeli (Jewish) society, there has been pressure on them to convert to Judaism. Many convert when they want to marry an Israeli Jew since marriage between religion is not lawful in Israel.

The recent Russian immigration has resulted in some novel social change in Israel. The Russian Christians, like most indiginous Israeli/Palestinian Christians are Orthodox, but they also carrry the racist baggage from their homeland and were loathe to attend Church with their Arab co-religionists. Thus the phenomenon of 'white churches' has arisen in Israel. Some areas of the country, noteably the town of Karmiel in the north, now experience anti-semitism with some Russian Christian neighborhoods trying to maintain ethno/religious homogeneity.

It's also common today to see Christmas tree lights twinkling in homes during the yuletide season, unheard of a decdade ago. The long term social ramifications of this new Christian 5% of our population has yet to be fully absorbed by israeli society, plus of course we now host another 300,000 mostly Christian migrent workers from developing countries who are also raising families here.

Israel is becoming a complex cosmopolitan society with much more than Jews and Arabs as polulation.

All the best,
Fred

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