THREE LADIES – THREE LATTES: Who is a (religious) Jew?

Three Ladies, Three Lattes looks at percolating issues in Israel’s complicated social and religious fabric. Secular Pam, modern Orthodox Tzippi and haredi Danit answer your questions.

August 12, 2015 15:45
4 minute read.
3D printed kippa

A Jewish youth wears a 3D printed kippa made by computer science Prof. Craig Kaplan of University of Waterloo in Ontario. (photo credit: CRAIG KAPLAN)


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Dear Ladies, I read your column with great interest. However, I question Pam’s definition of herself as “secular.” The label “ hiloni ” for non-religious Israelis is surprising; “secular” means “having no relationship to anything religious or spiritual.” Whereas many Israelis don’t observe Shabbat or kashrut, they often circumcise their sons, put mezuzot on their doors, have some sort of Seder, etc. Pam says she has a “go-to rabbi” – why would a secular person have such a thing? Please explain your definitions of yourselves.

Ellie Morris

Pam Peled:

In the Diaspora (South Africa for me, London for my late husband), we were proud to be traditional Jews; we could daven away with the best, we never ate ham. And we drove to shul on hagim , and parked around the corner.

Here there’s no overlap – you’re religious, or you aren’t; each sector seems to hate the others. One Friday, my youngest daughter requested Kiddush at midday. Her teenage friends were visiting later, and she feared they’d see candles and think us dati (religious). Martin and I were truly shocked. We gathered our brood and discussed the Spanish Inquisition. Had we made aliya to hide our traditions? Unfortunately, lately I am siding with my daughter. Religion, tragically, has been hijacked in Israel, by extreme cultists who are anything but Jewish. Deviants who kill those with alternative sexual proclivities or hurl firebombs at babies may be dismissed as crazies, but why are almost all Jewish terrorists religious? Add the everyday corruption of the rabbinate; extortionist kashrut certifications; exclusionist, cruel conversions; the tra-la-la surrounding mikve immersions – each year, Halacha seems more stringent. Turned off by the marriage of state and a religion that cynically controls all life-cycle events, sickened by greedy rabbis in top spots, oppressed by the lack of public transport for those too poor to drive to family on Saturdays, maddened by black-coated hooligans protesting cinemas open before the witching hour, people like me are flying from any appellation including us in their fold.


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