A call for pluralism on the Festival of Lights

The event was initiated by MK Michal Rozin of Meretz.

December 8, 2015 20:34
1 minute read.
MK Michal Rozin leads a Hannuka themed discussion in Knesset on pluralism and human rights

MK Michal Rozin leads a Hannuka themed discussion in Knesset on pluralism and human rights . (photo credit: Courtesy)

Jewish leaders from Orthodox and non-Orthodox denominations, social activists and MKs gathered in the Knesset on Tuesday to call for greater acceptance of other denominations and pluralist groups in Israel.

The event was initiated by MK Michal Rozin of Meretz ahead of the International Human Rights Day, on Thursday, to discuss the issues of religious pluralism in Israel through the prism of human rights and women’s rights within Judaism and in relation to Hanukka.

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Among the guests were Rabbi Gilad Kariv, head of the Reform Movement in Israel; Orthodox rabbi, musician and interfaith activist David Menachem; Rabbi Haya Roen Becker of the Masorti (Conservative) Movement; Dr. Hana Kehat, founder of the women’s divorce rights organization Koleich; and MKs Merav Michaeli, Ksenia Svetlova, Tamar Zandberg, Dov Khenin, Karin Elharar and David Bitan.

“The true challenge is the integration of the values of Judaism and the values of liberalism and humanism,” Rozin said.

“The conflict between the two does not make our society more productive but rather brings about crises and divisiveness among the Israeli public.”

Svetolova, who has been involved in recent efforts to include women in the hanukkia- lighting ceremonies at the Western Wall, criticized the religious establishment of the state for limiting religious choice and excluding non-Orthodox denominations.

“Rights are for everyone and Judaism is for everyone, for all the Jewish people, men and women, however they perceive themselves and not how somebody in the chief rabbinate perceives them,” said Svetlova.

“This is our biggest struggle. Not against any [external] enemies...We need to go forward together, to create a state that belongs to everyone.”

Likud MK Bitan, however, criticized demands for pluralism, alleging that pluralist movements themselves are not open to alternative points of view, while Menachem reflected on the nature of Hanukka as a festival of lights and the importance of the concept of light in relating to minorities or those who are different from mainstream society.

“When there is light, I can discern that which is outside of me, when there’s no light I only worry about myself unless someone in front of me makes himself heard. When there’s light, we can meet, and so this is the first ethical act [by God], and when God does something we follow after him and do the same thing,” Menachem said.

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