'Nativ will continue, but IDF conversions won’t be revised'

Chief Sephardi Rabbi tells 'Post' he is not so concerned about non- Orthodox content being taught in course on Jewish identity.

By JONAH MANDEL
March 17, 2011 05:21
1 minute read.
Protesters outside prime minister's hosue

IDF conversions rally 58. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

 
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“Nativ will not be closed, and nothing about the military conversions will change, as they are perfectly good,” Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar said on Wednesday.

Speaking with The Jerusalem Post after the Knesset’s Aliya, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee meeting that took place in his office, Amar was responding to the recent revelation that the rabbinical committee he had appointed to inspect the military conversion process had recommended closing down Nativ – a seven-week course on Jewish identity taught to non-Jewish soldiers as well as to Jewish olim serving in the military – due to the fact that some 10 Reform and Conservative teachers form part of its 170-strong staff.

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In January, after it was revealed that Amar and his predecessors had overlooked their legal duty to sign the certificates of military converts, Amar reaffirmed that the military conversions were kosher and halachic.

“I was also initially concerned about the non- Orthodox content being taught in Nativ,” Amar said, “but then saw that it was not actually an inherent part of the military conversion process. Even Jews participate in the said course.”

About 450 soldiers take part in each Nativ course, 15 percent of them Jewish, program head Prof. Benny Ish Shalom told the Post on Wednesday. Following the course, some of the non- Jewish soldiers choose to begin conversion, a lengthy process that includes, among other requirements, two learning sessions with a pause between them.

Only some 40% of those who begin a Nativ course will end up undergoing a conversion in the special IDF conversion courts, Ish Shalom said.

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