Grapevine: Conversion, a ‘vital task’

The World Emunah executive passes a resolution stating that it regards conversion as a national goal of top priority.

Peres with flag 521 (do not publish again) (photo credit: Flash 90)
Peres with flag 521 (do not publish again)
(photo credit: Flash 90)
MEETING AT its Jerusalem headquarters last week, the World Emunah executive, after listening to a lecture by Benny Ish Shalom, head of the Joint Conversion Institute, passed a resolution stating that it regards conversion as a national goal of top priority and called on the national government and rabbinic leadership to join forces towards the success of what it termed “a vital task.” The executive also urged the religious Zionist community to open their hearts, their homes and their communities to conversion candidates and to the newly converted, especially to the women who are the mothers of the next generation of Israelis.
To set the minds of converts at ease, Ish Shalom, quoting from authoritative texts, said: “There is no cancellation of conversion, no matter what.” The only exception he said, is if the convert deceived the Rabbinical Court and provided false and misleading information, such as claiming to be single when in fact he or she is married.
Ish Shalom views converts as part of the realization of biblical prophecy. He believes that Jews were dispersed throughout the world so that they could bring converts with them when they return to Zion to realize the renaissance of the Jewish People. Relating inappropriately to the convert, he said, is a betrayal of religious Zionist faith.
■ PRESIDENT SHIMON PERES, who spends a lot of time traveling to the North and South of the country, was mostly in Jerusalem over the past week and a half and will, of course, be in Jerusalem for Independence Day. Among the events he attended in advance of Independence Day was the lighting of the Elem Flag of Hope, which in past years had been displayed at the Tel Aviv Museum but this year moved to the walls of the Old City.
Peres joined Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Elem president Nava Barak in launching the flag, which has some 600,000 bulbs that are lit by individual NIS 10 donations.
The ceremony was held in the section of the Alrov Mamilla Mall that faces the walls of the Old City. The combination of the flag and the walls is astounding, said Peres, noting that it encompasses modern and ancient Jewish history. Peres also had high praise for Elem which, he explained, takes in youngsters at risk and gives them the opportunity to do something positive with their lives. According to Barak, Elem needs at least NIS 30 million a year to be able to help all those youngsters at risk who find their way to Elem or whom Elem more or less picks up in the street.
Anyone who wants to donate NIS 10 or more towards having the flag fully lit by Independence Day can send an SMS with the figure 10 to *5400.