According to Israel’s Law of Return, anyone with even a single Jewish grandparent is eligible to immigrate and become naturalized as a citizen. The result is that there are now as many as 400,000 non-Arab Israelis who are not Jewish by the far stricter standards of the chief rabbinate, which has sole legal authority over conversion, marriage, and divorce. Thus these citizens cannot marry Jews, and, if men, their children will not be considered Jewish. To convert they must undergo a rigorous process that involves convincing a rabbinic tribunal of their commitment to scrupulous halakhic observance. In When the State Winks, the anthropologist Michal Kravel-Tovi examines the way the rabbinate balances pressures to convert these Israelis to Judaism with its religious standards. Shlomo Brody writes in his review:
Israel’s Never-Ending Conversion Dilemma
At America’s Best Universities, Biblical Religion Is a Curiosity, if Not a Menace
At the time of Columbia University’s founding in 1784, notes Meir Soloviechik, the leader of the local synagogue, Gershom Mendes Seixas, was made a member of its board of regents. A Jewish student even gave a commencement address, composed by Seixas, in Hebrew. In the 20th century, Columbia attracted numerous Jews with the relaxation of quotas, and was the first secular university to create a chair in Jewish history. Barnard College, Columbia’s all-women’s school, was itself founded by a Jewish woman, and today has a large number of Orthodox Jewish students.