A group challenging the legitimacy of State-controlled conversions circulated thousands of flyers in synagogues across Israel this week, urging non-Jewish soldiers not to convert and to demand that military clergymen be installed according to their various denominations.
The group – "Jews against Conversion" – stated that the State of Israel is virtually compelling hundreds of thousand of immigrants to convert to Judaism, thus infringing on their rights.
The group's flyer lauds the "Non-Jewish heroes who fiercely defend the Israeli nation," and asserts that they deserve all of the rights Israelis enjoy, including "all of their spiritual right with God."
The group goes on to state that those "pushing (non-Jews) towards conversion do not have their best interests at heart."
They further urge non-Jewish soldiers "to avoid subjecting yourselves to the 613 laws of Judaism… You do not have to bind yourself to this restricting way, which will infringe on all ways of your life, and is hard to uphold. You do not have to uphold it!"
"Jews against Conversion" believe that State conversions are not halachic-based but rather "a political invention… and a concoction that endangers the future existence of the Jewish people."
According to the group, the rabbis controlling the process are "fraudulent," and "any conversion presided over by such rabbis will no more turn you into Jews than it would turn a rabbit into a rooster."
The group further blames the "corrupted conversion system" for the "punishment of Gush Katif," saying it was this corruption that led to the Israeli pullout from Gaza.
Rabbi Naftali Shriver, who is active within the group, said the flyer was the group's response to a recent "conversion campaign" among immigrants. He said the group is comprised of Israelis from all walks of life – religious and secular, Jews and non-Jews and immigrant who do not wish to convert.
"There are hundreds of thousands of people the State brought here and now it classifies them as second-rate citizens, until they convert," he said.
Shriver said he hopes non-Jewish soldiers will demand their right to have a military clergymen installed according to their various denominations.
"We have to adapt to this new reality, where Israel is a multi-national country and respect each other's way of life," he said.
Still, Shriver himself equates his fight against State-controlled conversation to Don Quixote's fight against the windmills, but says that he has no intention of giving up.