It is curious to see the government blaming rabbis for a problem it created and maintains: the giyur, conversion.

As recently as a hundred years ago, giyur was unheard of in Jewish communities: anyone who wished to take in a gentile or Muslim spouse just did so with very few formalities. Many countries prohibited conversion to Judaism, but intermarriages still happened and the rabbinical position was unequivocal: no long-term conversion is necessary. Indeed, a long-term conversion process would have been impossible: a Muslim bride cannot practice observing Jewish law for several years in her parents’ house, but also cannot move in with her Jewish groom until marriage.

The Torah solved the issue of conversion with truly divine simplicity: conversion by settling. Everyone who lives in the Jewish state must observe Jewish laws. Whatever the immigrant’s beliefs are, he is only allowed to worship God. He must partake in Jewish wars, abstain from work on Shabbat, food on Yom Kippur, and leaven on Pesach. Immigrants were similar to Jews in the basic aspects of Jewish religious law. That explains the Torah’s repeated calls to love the stranger: he is similar to Jews and must be dealt with likewise.

Ancient rabbis also encountered a less than idyllic situation. In their times pagan settlements dotted the Holy Land, and many immigrants flouted Jewish religious obligations. The rabbis chose the path of the least regulation: they simply allowed proselytes to marry their kind only. Tellingly, the rabbis also allowed them to marry illegitimate-born Jews; to the rabbis, the proselytes’ Jewishness was similarly questionable. After a generation of living as Jews, the proselytes fully assimilated and received all the rights: the prominent rabbinical leaders Shemaya and Avtalion descended from pagans.

So the real problem is not the hundreds of thousands of Slavs in Israel, but the millions of Jews. Both must be made to observe the basic laws of Judaism. As long as Jews-by-grandfather are willing to live by our laws, they are more than welcome.