Eitan Haber
Photo: Shalom Bar Tal

Israel's religious decline

Op-ed: It may not be apparent, but power of Israel’s religious establishment is waning

Until the next wave of impassioned anti-haredi zeal comes around, we shall apparently have enough time for self-reflection and a bid to restore the ties between seculars, haredim and religious in Israel.


When will the next tsunami come? There is no telling, but it shall certainly come, sooner or later. There is no doubt about it.


It shall come because there are many people around here who have an interest in inflaming passions, hostility and hatred amongst us. Why? That’s just the way it is.


Let’s make no mistake about it: The radical haredim have certainly gone too far with their actions recently, yet the seculars (yes, the seculars) outdo them. But for the time being, the extreme haredi camps smell the government’s weakness and the prime minister’s desperate need for them in order to stay in power.


As result of this government necessity, these camps enjoy plenty of financial and other benefits. Indeed, the Eda Haredit sect is currently experiencing one of its all-time political high points.


However, only those who have a solid perspective into the past realize that over the years and through the generations, the seculars ultimately win around here, big time. Indeed, the religious establishment’s influence has been declining for years now.


Does anyone remember that once upon a time, many years ago, a military vehicle was allowed to travel on Shabbat only with a permit signed by an IDF major-general? And does anyone remember that in order to eat pita bread on Passover one needed to travel far and eat privately rather than in public, heaven forbid, so that nobody would see him?


Who’s the man who dared open his store on Shabbat, people from the olden days would surely ask with amazement. And how about shopping centers that are open on Shabbat? That’s crazy!


And how about a Reform or Conservative wedding, for example? One could only dream about it in the past.


Yet in current-day Israel, every child knows the answers to the above questions, for better and for worse. The evidence shows that the power of the religious establishment is waning with the passage of years.


So is it still possible to restore the relationship between these two camps, the religious and the secular, which at this time appear to be so remote from each other? Well, we would settle for living side by side while showing tolerance and understanding to the other side. There is no other choice. As someone said once upon a time: Jews, we’re brothers!




פרסום ראשון: 01.18.12, 11:27
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