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Revolutionize the rabbinate

Op-ed: Tzohar rabbi says Chief Rabbinate failed in its duty to bring secular, religious Jews closer together

Changing, if not a revolutionizing Israel's Chief Rabbinate is vital to State security, from a strategic standpoint. The Chief Rabbinate is supposed to be in charge creating a common Jewish sphere that will serve as a 'gathering point' for secular, haredi, traditional and religious Jews.


The neglect of this 'gathering point' over the past few years has contributed to the division of Israeli society into tribes. Each one of these tribes creates its own 'gathering point.' It is hostile to the other tribes and does not speak their cultural-ideological language anymore. A society whose members have to serve in the same tank crew cannot allow itself to disintegrate from the inside.


A revolution in the Chief Rabbinate is required, particularly due to the fact that Israel faces numerous threats after the vision of an "Arab Spring" and a "new Middle East" has been shattered.


We, and particularly our children, are in need of motivation to continue supporting the army and the State and continue building the Zionist vision out of identity and love.


We are here, secular and religious Jews alike, because our grandparents in Yemen, Germany, Morocco, Poland, Iraq and France recited the prayer: "May our eyes behold your return to Zion." Without Jewish tradition to justify our complex presence here, we would be in serious trouble.


This is the role of the Chief Rabbinate: Not to bring Jews "back to religion" (hazara betshuva), but to bring back the love for Jewish tradition, which unites us all, despite the vast differences between us.


And what do we get instead? Rabbinical courts which the public shies away from; religious councils that repulse secular couples with their rude treatment; converts (including many IDF soldiers) who are repeatedly rejected by many religious courts and councils; and young secular women who encounter patronizing behavior and alienation during their first and only visit to the mikveh (before they get married) instead of being greeted with flowers and candy. Often times we hear rabbis make irrelevant comments because they are so out of touch with the Israeli discourse.


This institution must be revolutionized. It must be made relevant again without taking away from its commitment to the halacha. The Chief Rabbinate must serve as the central bridge between Judaism and the Israeli experience, instead of being another source of alienation and disgust.


The 'Tzohar' rabbis are calling for a revolution in the State of Israel's religious services sector within the next five years. It is possible, but we must demand it and never let up.


Rabbi Rafi Feuerstein is a member of the board of the 'Tzohar' organization




פרסום ראשון: 09.07.12, 00:39
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