(photo credit: Courtesy)
Not black and white
Sir, – Yehuda Mirsky’s column about fresh thinking from
within the religious sector (“Beyond ‘religious’ and ‘secular,’” Comment &
Features, May 15) is fascinating.
Rabbis like Ariel Picard and Yoav
Sorek, despite their radically divergent approaches, are to be encouraged; Eilu
v’eilu divrei Elokim hayyim
, both are rooted in living tradition.
said this, little real change can be expected as a result of such philosophical
efforts. The overwhelming majority of people are not intellectuals and their
attraction or aversion to religious values are driven by emotion.
Catholic church, for example, an ultra-conservative pope like John Paul II, by
dint of his apparent warmth and caring, was able to make his faith vastly more
appealing despite a dogmatic rejection of virtually all modern innovations
desired by progressive Catholics.
Israelis demand authenticity in
religion, hence their reflexive rejection of liberal forms of Judaism. At the
same time they are viscerally turned off by a religious bureaucracy that is
monopolized by rabbis who show little love and even less respect for those who
are less or differently observant.
One wonders how it came to pass that
wonderful, loving, open-minded and educated Zionist rabbis are almost nowhere to
be found in local rabbinates, and why our so-called chief rabbis are more
concerned with winning the approval of haredim – which they never get – rather
than winning the love and respect of the general population.
So long as
our rabbinic bureaucracy serves as a barrier to religion rather than a magnet
for the disenfranchised, the polarization that exists will continue.
amount of philosophizing will change this.
Surely, if Picard and Sorek
were sitting in the Jerusalem rabbinate handling marriage and divorce they would
achieve much more than by writing treatises rooted in the intellectual thinking
of Yehuda Halevi or Moses Maimonides, names that for most Israelis are
associated with a street sign and a hospital.J.J. GROSS
“Beyond ‘religious’ and ‘secular’” made no mention of the reconceptualization of
Israel’s public educational system. Perhaps the biggest block to a pervasive and
active Jewishness in Israel is the existence of what is in effect two public
school systems – secular and religious. Curriculum reform is the order of the
day! The biggest asset and vehicle for a socio-cultural unification of the
Jewish people is the great system of Jewish law, one of the profound
contributions of the Jewish people to Western civilization. Ways must be found
to reconceptualize Jewish law by modernizing its jurisprudence and, most
important, by taking God out of it and leaving it to the personal
A socio-cultural unification of the Jewish people in the State of
Israel is not instant coffee. It’s a longrange matter.JOSEPH DAVID
The writer is a retired professor of philosophy Sir, – I was
particularly moved by Yehuda Mirsky’s description of datlashim (a Hebrew acronym
for the formerly religious) as the heirs of Bialik. I found this both
illuminating and comforting.
We have a son who defines himself as
In a recent discussion with his datlash friends concerning how
they wish to bring up their future offspring, it appears they have all come to
the same conclusion: They would like their children to be like them.
dilemma indeed! ELLIE MORRIS
Sir, – In “Ex-Labor chief
Barak declares ‘Independence’ in Tel Aviv” (May 13), you quote Ehud Barak as
saying that Israeli politics has been led by “too many opportunists and
It takes one to know one.STANLEY LAWSON