Doctor Science Knows

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Blogcomment record: Divorcing Israel

The Knesset is considering a bill that would give the Orthodox Rabbinate a monopoly on matters of Jewish identity. This would, among other things, make Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, and even many American Orthodox conversions "not count" in Israel -- only Haredi aka "Ultra-Orthodox" would pass their test.

Or, as Jeffrey Goldberg (normally a reliable cheerleader for the Zionist section) put it: Israel to Diaspora: Drop Dead. American Jews are *extremely* upset.

This is a summary of comments I left in Ta-Nehesi Coates' open thread, at a a Jerusalem Post article, at Tablet Magazine, and at Emily Hauser's; I also emailed Goldberg.

We non-Orthodox are like a woman who's been abused, insulted, stolen from, and betrayed by her husband. At last he's given her a get -- but it still hurts, to know how little she was ever respected.

A crucial aspect that both American and Israeli Orthodox (and secular Israelis) seem to be mostly missing is that non-Orthodox Jewish practice seems more *right* to us. We aren't interested in just being halachically "good" Jews, we want to be good people who are Jewish. We look at Israeli Orthodoxy and we see the same behavior and attitudes we see in Christian or Muslim or Hindu fundamentalists. We do *not* see the true foundations of our Jewish religion: Hillel's "one-leg Torah" (aka The Golden Rule), teshuva, tikkun olam, justice and wisdom, wrestling with G-d. Indeed, I think that to many of us Israeli Orthodoxy seems to make idols out of even the Torah and Eretz Israel, preferring to focus on these rather than the more difficult mitzvot: “Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the stranger or the poor", for a start. We let strangers into our congregations because we do still know the feelings of the stranger.

The NYT piece says:
Neither the Jewish diaspora nor Israel can afford a split between the two communities
I disagree. Diaspora Judaism *must* split, for the sake of our souls. In the first place, we’ve been handed our get, we need to recognize it, weep, and move on. In the second place, Israel was the wrong Bridegroom: there’s only One Who truly counts, and Who is the security of the Jewish people and faith.

Even when you've been kicked out, it's hard to walk away -- but I think that's what non-Orthodox Jews have to do to remain true to our Jewish obligations.

Emily pointed out that the law hasn't been passed, the divorce has not been finalized. There's still time for Israel to back away, to say "Oh baby, I never meant to make you *cry*." But I don't know how reparable the marriage is, at this point.

I invite my Israeli or Orthodox friends to persuade me I'm wrong.

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  • This bill change nothing concerning the diaspora's Jews but it will ease the converting process in Israel for those who want to convert to Judaism.
    Why it should bother you?

    By Blogger Abe Bird, at 10:12 AM  

  • Another thing... I think that the secular Jews in America will disappear through the next 3 generations. What makes you Jewish? Hating Orthodox Jews? Hating the only state of the Jewish people?

    Jews in America are disappearing from the map mainly in America. Secular Jews in Canada and France, for example, see Israel as connecting them to the past and the future, with their temporarily existence in the present exile. But who is the common secular Jewish American? The one who hates religion, hates the Jewish nationality, hates Israel. And why? Because in the first time in the last 2000 years Jews can fight and protect themselves, from the evil 'Goys'. And that's a state of incorrectly fashion in your eyes, because you can’t confirm that Jews have the right to exercise power in order to stay alive. Only Jews haters have that privilege, in your eyes.

    By Blogger Abe Bird, at 12:02 PM  

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