Of course, it is a great responsibility to define who is and who isn’t Jewish, especially in our age of modern pluralism. The laws are complex, and the stakes are high. But what is most troubling about the views coming out of Jerusalem in recent years is that they are motivated by an effort to keep the gates closed, to prevent seekers from joining our people rather than to welcome them.
Potential converts are told they must accept each of the hundreds of mitzvot in Jewish life when a more liberal approach would enable tens of thousands of Russians in Israel to join the Jewish people, potentially transforming the society in positive ways. Further, a number of recent conversions have been revoked by the Chief Rabbinate. The chilling effect of such actions, and their negative message, has caused ripples of frustration and anger here and across the Jewish world.
This is a time when we need the spirit of Hillel, who accepted the man who wanted to learn about Judaism while standing on one foot. Instead we have the response of Shammai, who shooed him away.
Gary Rosenblatt, “Ruth’s Conversion Would Be Rejected Today”, The Jewish Week (17 June 2016), 7.