July 2: Face(s) of Judaism
The Chief Rabbinate, as an official governmental body, is an anachronism that has long outlived its usefulness and been an impediment to the growth of Judaism.
Face(s) of Judaism
Sir, – The Jerusalem Post is to be commended for its
editorial “Judaism for all” (June 29) calling for “free market Judaism” and an
end to the current state-supported Chief Rabbinate.
The Chief Rabbinate,
as an official governmental body, is an anachronism that has long outlived its
usefulness and been an impediment to the growth of Judaism. Its actions
regarding conversion, especially the conversion of Russian olim, its attitude
toward the problem of agunot (women whose husbands refuse to grant them a
religious divorce), and its incitement against other movements that the chief
rabbis voiced at the meeting described in the editorial, all shout loudly that
the time has come to put an end to this destructive institution.
Conservative Movement’s Rabbinical Assembly has long called for the
privatization of the Chief Rabbinate. Let it exist on its own and let other
rabbinic groups exist as well. Let people choose freely which rabbinical
organization and which synagogue organization they wish to support. The
government can provide subsidies to these groups on the basis of their
membership and the services they offer.
writer is a rabbi and a columnist for The Jerusalem Post Magazine Sir, – The
conclusions of “Judaism for all” sadly lack an understanding of the
I can write with unimpeachable authority: During my 80 years I
was a Reform and Conservative Jew, and for 10 years even a Messianic Jew with my
own “congregation,” before finally being exposed to true Orthodox living in
1995. It was not until nine months before I made aliya in 2003 that I began to
live an Orthodox life.
The solution offered in your editorial is to leave
all the major denominations free to compete for membership, a sort of popularity
contest with implied gimmicks acceptable to get people in the door. That is not
Acknowledging that Orthodox authority is rigidly protective, the
issue has a number of components.
The political, power-driven aspect is
emphasized. It exists and needs correction. But the fundamental part is Torah!
Judaism is what the Torah says it is. Conservative and Reform, under the best,
well-intentioned circumstances, still depart from Torah for the sake of
comfortable compromise, to feel Jewish and worship without having to be
concerned with the obligations we accepted at Sinai.
of the Conservative and Reform movements as equals – or even as acceptable –
when it considers them fatal dilutions and even pollutions, will never
Diminishing the problem to simplistics is not conducive to
Purpose of the press
Caroline B. Glick (“About those Jews...,” Column One, June 29) complains of the
media’s failure to truly report on the hatred of Jews among the Arab
I love reading Glick because she seriously attempts to shape Post
readers to her right-wing political views. Yet she preaches that the “media are
supposed to report facts, not shape opinions.”
I happen to agree with her
political persuasion but disagree with her opinion about the press.
as she attempts to do in her column every Friday, the purpose of the press is to
Now, for the Right
Sir, – My
thanks to Michael Harris for “The revolution of the left wing” (Comment &
Features, June 28), who pinpointed for me an issue that has bothered me these
past few years but which I refused to accept.
From the beginning Herut,
later the Likud, was an active opposition in criticizing the government for any
attempt to offer land for peace. Yet it was Menahem Begin who broke the
international rule of “to the victor belong the spoils,” giving back the Sinai
Peninsula. Even more, he removed Israeli settlers from Yamit as part of the
Arik Sharon turned his back on his electorate and shamefully
ejected Israeli citizens who had built magnificent communities in Gush Katif.
Many more shameful retreats have been performed by Likud governments in
opposition to the party’s long-standing philosophy.
brought more terrorism and great outlays of money to provide greater protection,
such as walls, fences and additional security manpower.
In the past we
voted for the Likud or one of the other rightwing parties since the Left offered
no alternative. It would behoove the Likud to now take up the challenge of the
new Labor Party and create its own revolution. It would inject integrity and
honesty into its party platform so that its voters can be assured their
representatives will vote as they promise.
I look forward to a Harris
column titled, “The revolution of the right wing.”
So little time
Sir, – Every few years the ghost of Richard Wagner
reappears to haunt the collective conscience of Israelis who doggedly insist on
not giving his music a public platform (“Mah Tovu and ‘Tannhauser’ – separating
the masterpiece from its creator,” Comment & Features, June 26; “Who’s
afraid of Richard Wagner,” Comment & Features, June 11). His various
apologists pontificate as to what we are missing culturally.
that we don’t know his music is acknowledged to be among the crowns of the
Romantic Period. We are not cultural philistines. Moreover, there are those
among us who choose not to read the poetry of T.S.Eliot. This doesn’t
mean we are literary ignoramuses.
Some of us may even have advanced
degrees in music and literature. Nevertheless, in our limited life-spans there
is just so much time to listen to all the great musical masterpieces and to read
all the great works of literature.
Valuing our individual freedom bestows
upon us the right to choose – for lack of time – to which works of art we wish
to devote our aesthetic sensibilities.
And, yes, an artist’s anti-Semitic
pedigree may prejudice an audience’s appreciation of his work.
our Jewish audience in our free sovereign State of Israel need never
One more reason
Sir, – I agree that
for decades, since the days of Ben-Gurion, there has been an urgent need for
electoral reform (“Carmel’s lesson,” Editorial, June 22). Our dysfunctional,
flawed and undemocratic political system has appointed ministers who on repeated
occasions have absolved themselves from their responsibilities by whitewashing
their blunders and passing responsibility to unfortunate scapegoats.
urgently require constituent representation and a well-thought-out constitution,
as well as continuity and stability in government with ministers who do not
change like the weather.
It is time our electoral system was changed so
that our quality of life and standard of living are not manipulated and governed
by survival-mentality politicians who have voice and power disproportionate to
In “Likud MK denounces
‘infringement’ of freedom of religion on Temple Mount” (June 28), it was stated
that “current Israeli law stipulates that Jews and other non-Muslims may not
pray out loud on the Temple Mount.” Current law, upheld by the High Court of
Justice, is that the right to freedom of worship must be upheld on the Temple
Mount, as in all other places of worship in Israel, but because of the
sensitivity of the site police may prevent non-Muslim prayer in the interests of