In response to a direct request from a dear friend-- who obviously just loves to see me getting riled up-- I'm going to share my 2 cents on the completely idiotic (oops am I giving away my opinion already?) ruling of our lovely orthodox rabbis about conversions that take place outside of Israel. There's actually a really good post about this from someone in the orthodox corner who is also in the same shocked and offended category as me over on Life in Israel.
For those of you who haven't been following this little soap opera the bare bones of the matter is this: any and all conversions (we are talking orthodox here cos they don't recognize anything but orthodox conversions anyway) that take place outside of Israel will not be recognized as valid whatsoever if they are not conducted, personally, by any one of 50 "you have the stamp of approval on your forehead" rabbis. Now, they are planning to let more rabbits, er rabbis, get their foreheads stamped but only after they jump through a lot of hoops and eat their lettuce in the correct fashion as decreed by the head honchos here. They are also not recognizing converstions authorized, but not personally carried out from start to finish, by one of the very big and respected head honcho orthodox rabbits in the U.S. who has a bona-fide stamp on his forehead already. This is causing rather muted shock and horror in the galut (all that there land outside of this here holy of holy places).
So what does this mean? Well for different people it has different ramifications. For instance, if you are someone wishing to convert reform or conservative it means absolutely zip --you ain't a Jew in their eyes already so who cares what dumb rules they come up? Except for the fact that, while you can make aliyah and while the State of Israel will allow you to be considered a citizen and an adopted member of the jewish race/nation/genetic blobs of inter-bred DNA that we are, you won't be able to get married here in Holy Land Central and you are going to have some burial issues (i.e., they won't let you into the exclusive Jewish section of dust-becomers). But this is already the case and this new ruling doesn't change anything. So you should already be wishing a pox upon their houses.
If you are wanting to convert in the Orthodox stream, however, welcome to the outcasts of the reform and conservative converts cos now you too, dear hearts, can go ahead and convert but not be recognized by the head honchos who have far too much say over everyone else's lives. Unless of course you happen to live close enough to one of the 50 kosher rabbits in the entire world outside of Israel and can get them to convert you. Or, unless you are willing to convert once so you can make Aliyah in order to go through the whole loooooooonnnnnnnnggggggg pain the neck process of re-converting here once you arrive. Of course for you guys and gals there are many more issues besides marriage and where you'll be buried when you croak --what about school for your kids (forget it, they can't get into any of the religious schools), what about your kids getting married and on and on. You are in a bind. Start screaming now. The orthodox rabbis outside of Israel too should be screaming loud and long --after all they are being told that they aren't respectable and holy and kosher enough to do diddly squat.
Oh yeah, and there's the divorce thing. Orthodox folks have to not only get divorced in the government's eyes but they also have to get divorced in rabbinic eyes too and get something called a Get (not always easy, lemme tell you --sometimes impossible). So these non-israeli rabbis can't issue Gets any longer. Not only that, from what I understand, the issue is retroactive and so any Gets that were gotten if not gotten by 1 of the 50 are eerrrrrrr not valid. So hey you, yeah I know you were married and had 7 kids and then got a Get that is now gone but in the meantime remarried and had 7 more kids with the new spouse. Yeah, you. You aren't divorced. And you aren't remarried. You are living in sin. Your newest 7 darlings are shhhh momzerim (bastards). Oy va voy.
The main deal here is that this is a decision by a power-hungry bunch of rabbis (er rather a tiny exclusive club) who make stupid decisions in order to gain and maintain the power that they have. If you've ever read Watership Down, these guys are General Woundwort and his Owsla. It has nothing to do G-d or religion or anything else but power. So, now they are roundly hated by the secular people who live here, hated by the reform, by the conservative, by all converts without the special stamp of approval, and increasingly by the people in their own camp who live outside of this country. Kol ha'kavod, guys.
Yo, orthodox people not in Holy Land Central: I'd suggest coming up with a Hazel and Fiver and Bigwig real quick --and a Kehaar if you can find one!
Well Kat, you did ask....