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Sunday, October 7, 2007

Zionism versus Orthodox religion

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/10/zionism-versus-orthodox-religion.html

Headline: Break the fundamentalist stranglehold
What it is about - a controversy that is as old as Zionism itself and has not been resolved in modern Israel: reconciling the birth of a modern nation-state with the traditions of orthodox religion. In Europe, this problems was resolved for Christian society by the reformation and the emergence of secular states. Israel and the Jewish people have not yet completely undergone their reformation. This has urgent practical implications as well as profound theoretical ones, as Maurice Stroun and Avshalom Vilan note:
 
The modern Orthodox Tzohar rabbinic organization is reportedly mulling issuing its own kashrut certificates. This comes in the wake of the Chief Rabbinate's decision to give municipal chief rabbis the option of not honoring the symbolic heter mechira practice this shmita year - a sabbatical during which, according to the Bible, all Jewish-owned fields in the Land of Israel are to lie fallow.
This compromise, the fiction of selling the land, was the outcome of the very first practical confrontation between settlers in the land in the last century, the Bilu, and the Orthodox extremists. The Bilu were observant Jews, but they would not allow themselves to starve to death.
 
And, as the authors note:
 
There are 300,000 people living in Israel who are eligible to become Jewish. The majority of them will no doubt be as irreligious as most veteran Israelis. In this, they will behave like most of the Jews around the world, who celebrate Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Pessah while leading largely secular lifestyles.
 

Throughout Jewish history, there have always been various sects such as the Essenes, Pharisees and Sadducees. Today we have secular, Reform, Conservatives and Orthodox. The presence within the Jewish religion of 300,000 aspiring Jews is of fundamental importance for the future of Israel.
 

Enabling a 5-percent increase in the Jewish population in Israel is not something to be neglected because of Orthodox diktat, especially as, to the fundamentalists, what is important is not strengthening the Zionist state, but the share of their own sect in relation to all the Jewish people in this country.
So it is not an obscure ideological struggle at all, but one that can affect the existence of the state and of the Jewish people. And to be sure, it is NOT solely a fight between secular and orthodox Jews:
 
The modern Orthodox Tzohar rabbinic organization is reportedly mulling issuing its own kashrut certificates. This comes in the wake of the Chief Rabbinate's decision to give municipal chief rabbis the option of not honoring the symbolic heter mechira practice this shmita year - a sabbatical during which, according to the Bible, all Jewish-owned fields in the Land of Israel are to lie fallow.
The choice is not between religion and unbelief, but between fanaticism for its own sake and sanity. There is no way forward with the current religious establishment, because they are not interested in the welfare of the Jewish people or Israel, but only in stubbornly trying to hold on to the position of preeminence in Jewish life that the rabbinate held among Diaspora Jews.
 
Ami Isseroff
 
 


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/10/zionism-versus-orthodox-religion.html. Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.

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