Elazar Stern
Elazar Stern צילום: הדס פרוש, פלאש 90

In a Facebook post, MK Elazar Stern related his experience over Simchat Torah together with graduates of the Nativ conversion program for Russian IDF soldiers. At the same time Stern called on religious Zionists to focus on other challenges besides developing Judea and Samaria.

Stern, who founded Nativ with the goal of providing a solution for army inductees who could not enter Israeli society due to their halakhic status as gentiles, was profoundly moved to meet some of the graduates of the program at Kfar Etzion during the course of the festival. He wrote that many of them had married and were bringing up Jewish families and many came up to him with tears in their eyes thanking him for the transformation he had made to their lives after they converted in the course of their army service. One of them said "I was searching for the opportunity to shout my thanks to you for what you have done."

Stern recollected what Rabbi Druckman had told him a number of times, that whatever the differences between them around Stern's other work in the Knesset, in which he often attacked the Hesder program and led to controversy over religious issues, he was assured a place in the World to Come for establishing the Nativ program.

Stern added that he had met an influential and respected member of Religious Zionism who asked him "What's going to happen with Amona?"

Stern, still under the impression of his meeting with the converts and his desire for more attention to the problems of gentiles in Israeli society, responded angrily, saying:"Are you crazy? Why don't you ask me about the challenge of conversion, of assimilation, of the growing numbers of Israelis who do not want to get married under the auspices of the Israeli Rabbinate? Why not discuss the millions of Jews who are alienated from their Judaism by the State of Israel? Is it only Amona you care about?"

Stern added that despite his warm feelings for the residents of Amona, he did not see it as an "existential challenge" for the state of Israel, whereas the social and identity issues are at the core of Israel's needs at this time. He did not allude to the fact that Amona is a pressing problem with a time limit and that expelling Israelis from their homes is hardly a minor issue.