Number of people seeking conversion to Judaism surges amid Gaza war

Conversion inquiries, particularly among 'unaffiliated' Israelis, climb as Israelis reconnect with tradition and Judaism after October 7

Hamas' October 7 assault on Israel elicited a response from the IDF in the Gaza Strip that was unparalleled in its intensity, resulting in a high number of casualties and spawning a significant wave of global anti-Israel and antisemitic sentiments.
In the aftermath of these developments, a notable number of Israelis, including a substantial portion of the roughly 560,000 "unaffiliated" people in the country, reported feeling a deeper affinity to their Jewish heritage and traditions. A significant segment of this secular population, who identify as Jews but aren't recognized as such by Halacha, initiated a conversion process.
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The ITIM organization, spearheading the Halachic Conversion initiative, offers a bespoke conversion process in accordance with Halacha that operates independently of the Rabbinate's control. For the first time, they are releasing data on the volume of conversion requests they have received. A dramatic surge in requests for conversion, primarily driven by the secular demographic, is being reported.
ITIM Chairman Rabbi Dr. Saul Farber said, "We're seeing a trend among populations not recognized as Jewish expressing a desire to join the Israeli-Jewish community. This trend is evident in the increasing number of conversion requests we're receiving. We're working tirelessly to meet this demand. Beyond the logistical and religious components, we view this as a mission to strengthen the Jewish people and the State of Israel, particularly during these times of conflict."
The Prime Minister's Office confirmed the trend despite not releasing accurate data on the demand for conversion since the war began. "The state conversion system noted an uptick in applications for conversion in the last quarter of 2023. However, it's premature to definitively link this increase to the events of October 7. We plan to continue tracking the data throughout 2024, anticipating a sustained rise in conversion applications," the PMO said.
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