Prof. Kaveh: Religious Zionism has not settled in our hearts
President of Bar-Ilan University criticizes movement in conference marking its 60 years of existence, saying it has not adapted its utopist outlook to daily, political agendas. Opposite view held by Yeshiva Head Rabbi Nachum Rabinowitz claims religion has no room in Israel’s legislation
“Religious Zionism has settled in many places, but not in our hearts,” Bar-Ilan University President Prof. Moshe Kaveh Monday during the opening of the conference “60 years of religious Zionism in Israel” held at the university.
In his address, Prof. Kaveh said that Religious Zionism has made some significant accomplishments in its 60 years of existence, but has also suffered some failures and disappointments in a few major areas. In his opinion, it is still “local, too reclusive and not influential enough,” which is contrary to the ever-growing thirst for Jewish studies on behalf of the non-religious crowd.
Religious Zionism must come out of its shell and connect to others in order to emphasize the virtues between man and man and pleasantly spread Judaism, he said.
Among the reasons for Religious Zionism’s retreat, Kaveh mentions some of the religious Zionist rabbis’ call for disobedience and “their doubting of ability to connect to the State, manifested in the refusal by some of the public to recite a praise prayer for the country in synagogue after the Gaza pullout.”
Prof. Kaveh added that the problem lies in the tension created between the rabbis’ tendency towards utopist definition versus the need for compromise and finding realistic daily solutions.
'Those who only know how to take envelopes'
Kaveh also says that the absence of modern halachic literature is another sign of the religious leadership’s weakening. He urges the young talented religious Zionist generation to become politically active instead of leaving politics in the hands of those “who only know how to take envelopes…”
The university president used the occasion to express his full support of Rabbi Drukman and denounce his objectors and disqualifiers on the issue of conversion.
Rabbi Prof. Nachum Rabinowitz, head of the Yeshivat Hesder in Ma'ale Adumim and one of the heads of the Committee of Yesha Rabbis, said in the conference that the Jewish Law is democratic and encourages separation of powers between the rabbinical and political leaderships.
Therefore, he determines that Israel as a Jewish state has no room for religious legislation, and that the religious institution has no right to force its position on the public.
Rabinowitz further claimed that religious Zionism’s thinking is narrow and factional, stemming from its unfamiliarity with the Jewish laws pertaining to politics: “For us, 10 or 12 mandates are considered a success; we are not seeking full leadership of Israel.”
Rabinowitz proposes going by the law saying that the public must know his representatives, and calls for regional elections and for handing over most of the jurisdiction on civilian matters to the local authorities.
Moran Zelikovich contributed to this report