One of Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana's (Yamina) flagship programs is the "conversion reform," which aims to eliminate much of the difficulty involved in converting to Judaism.
According to Kahana, a half-million immigrants and children of immigrants from the former Soviet Union are not Jewish, and therefore conversions must be made accessible to them, including by means of municipal rabbis.
On Wednesday, Israel Hayom reported on a new survey by the Am Echad organization, which questioned hundreds of immigrants and children of immigrants, showed that not only is the reform not bringing these non-Jews in Israel closer to Judaism - in a way, it is pushing them farther away.
The survey, conducted by the Midgam research institute, included 508 immigrants and children of immigrants, 21% of whom are not Jewish or not certain of their status. Just 13% of that subgroup are interested in undergoing any kind of conversion at all, two-thirds of whom are the children of immigrants.
A total of 39.3% of respondents said that they were not interested in conversion because they are Jews, compared to 37% who said they are not interested because there is no need or they are not interested.
The reform itself has led to a drop in the desire to convert, and to a significant increase in uncertainty: Just 12.7% answered in the affirmative when asked if they would consider converting due to the reform, compared to 66.2% who answered in the negative and 21% who said they did not know.
Of those who responded in the negative, 56.8% said they do not see a reason to convert, or are not interested in converting. At the same time, just 5% of respondents said that they have not initiated the conversion process because it is too difficult.
Commenting on the survey, the Am Echad organization said, "The Religious Affairs Minister is mistaken and is speaking over the heads of those who emigrated from Soviet Union countries."