Religion and State in Israel: A modest proposal

I want to make an argument for drastically limiting the role of the Israeli state in developing and maintaining Jewish institutions.

July 18, 2013 12:02
Frontispiece of Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes Abraham Bosse, 1651.

Frontispiece of Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes Abraham Bosse 390. (photo credit: Courtesy of Mosaic Magazine)

Moshe Koppel writes for Mosaic

Every now and then, people who in the grand scheme of things look and sound more or less like me voice opinions that make me wonder whether I’ve been sucked through the rabbit hole. Often these opinions have to do with freedoms they would like to sacrifice to government bureaucrats. All too often, those freedoms are of the religious kind.

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Once, when I was helping to draft a constitutional proposal for the state of Israel, a prominent rabbi urged me to include a provision that would require judges on rabbinical courts to be God-fearing. When I suggested that this kind of language was likely to prove ineffective in a constitutional context—and that it might be better if judges on rabbinical courts weren’t appointed by the government in the first place—he gave me an odd look and asked, in all sincerity: who, then, would pay for them if not the government? The possibility had never occurred to him that Jewish communities and not the state should support Jewish institutions.

Read the rest of the essay and debate at Mosaic

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