Lehava, an organization that opposes assimilation, doesn’t like the phenomenon of converting to mixed marriages.
Conversion of religion is normal in any country. However, it becomes a problem when that happens in Israel, a region that is in conflict with Palestine which is dominated by Arabs. (Read: Putin Demonstrates the Strength of Russia’s Nuclear Triad, a Signal of Preparing for Nuclear War )
In 2017, when Noy Shitrit, a young Jewish woman from southern Israel, converted to Islam and married an Israeli Arab, the story shocked many in the Jewish state.
The Israeli public usually does not view such unions in a positive light. The reasons are the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict, years of bloodshed and collective sedition. This is why the masses struggle to understand what could push a young Jewish woman into the embrace of their so-called “enemy.”
Noy’s story upsets Lehava’s group because the man who married her turns out to be rude. Anat Gopstein, who and her husband founded Lehava, said what happened to Noy was also experienced by other girls who converted through mixed marriages.
“A lot of these girls (who eventually convert) come from problematic backgrounds. Some are attracted to the attention he gives her, others are fascinated by gifts. This relationship always starts with ‘wow’ but it all ends in trouble,” she said. . (Also read: This Chinese Spy Accused of Sleeping with US Officials for Information )
Lehava considered the Jewish girls who converted through mixed marriages as “strays”. This is one of the reasons why in 2005, Anat and her husband founded Lehava.
Although many in Israel view Lehava as a right-wing movement that engages sedition and even terror, Anat said “the hypocrisy of political games” will not stop him from continuing his activities.
Apart from helping “converts” find their way back to Judaism, the organization is also known to help young people from troubled backgrounds integrate into society. They also help women who have experienced physical or social abuse return to normal lives.
Now, Anat claims he receives five requests for help every day. Some came from women, who were “converted” and who wanted to find a way out. Others were sent by family or acquaintances, who knew about the abusive relationship and wanted to help them end the problem.
“It is difficult to give official figures but we know that cases of conversion are on the rise. Just because the assimilation process in Israel is also increasing,” he said, as quoted by Antara. Sputniknews, Friday (11/12/2020).
Anat statement supported by statistics. In 2003, for example, official figures showed that 40 Israeli Jews converted to Islam. In 2006 that figure was almost double, with the country recording 70 such cases.
Since then, this trend has continued to grow. Between 2005 and 2007, 250 Israelis officially converted to Islam, many of them women.
“The way it works is that women end up converting because they marry Muslim men, and this creates problems for us because they are ‘infidels’ who took our women from Judaism,” he explained.
Jewish tradition, however, is less strict in this respect. According to the Judaic tradition, the offspring of a mixed marriage whose wife was a Jew would remain Jewish, but for Anat and the organization he represented, the concept remained a problem.
“(Because they live with their Arab father) these children will marry Arabs when they grow up and that means they will eventually get out of Judaism. But even if we put this aside, think about these children. They were born and raised. by two opposing societies, and very often they find themselves unwanted by one of them, “says Anat.
It is also a motivating factor for Lehava to help converts who wish to return to the lap of their previous religion.
It’s not clear how many people the somewhat controversial organization employs, but according to some estimates, the movement has thousands of employees and volunteers. Only a few dozen work for the specific purpose of helping female converts return to Judaism.
“We help them by talking and showing them the way out. Sometimes these girls need a flat to run and hide and we provide it. Other times, they need psychological help and we try to help them. I am aware of the fact that our activities are considered racist but attitude it will not deter us, “said Anat.