Leading national-religious personality Rabbi Yuval Cherlow has called for state
recognition of non-Orthodox Jewish denominations as a means of preventing their
alienation from the Jewish state.
Cherlow added, however, that this
recognition should be political in nature and not on the basis of Jewish
Cherlow, the dean of the Hesder Yeshiva of Petah Tikva, made his
comments in a letter addressed to his students following his return from a visit
to the US last week in which he spelled out his concern for the ongoing
assimilation of Jews outside Israel and what he described as a decreasing sense
of Jewish identity in the Diaspora.
Cherlow is known as one of the modern
national-religious leaders and has expressed relatively liberal opinions on a
number of crucial issues within the Orthodox Jewish world.
principally in the US, continues to assimilate and is disappearing from the
Jewish people,” wrote Cherlow.
According to the rabbi, one reason for
growing alienation of world Jewry from Israel is that the state does not
recognize non-Orthodox streams “and the fact that they are not wanted here...
and they don’t want to identify with a state that has a religious
Cherlow added that the perception of the Chief Rabbinate “adds
fuel to the fire,” in this regard.
Earlier this year, the state
recognized non-Orthodox rabbis of small towns and communities, defining them as
“rabbis of non-Orthodox communities,” and agreed to fund their wages from state
The Chief Rabbinate, and Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar in
particular, bitterly denounced the decision as threatening the future of the
Jewish people, with Amar accusing non-Orthodox rabbis of “poisoning the well of
holiness and taking people to the nethermost pit.”
Cherlow wrote in his
letter that one possible method to prevent Diaspora communities’ loss of Jewish
identity and identification with Israel would be for the state to recognize the
different non-Orthodox denominations through “a differentiation between the
position of Jewish law and the policies of the State of Israel.
correctness of the state (not Halacha!) Recognizing the different denominations,
their conversions, and similar, or at the very least with state budget
proportional to the size of their communities,” he wrote.
framework, Cherlow continued, the “struggle against them could be conducted in
the atmosphere of the ‘free market.’”