Religion & State in Israel (Civil Judaism)

In tandem with the changing face of Israeli Arab politics in Israel might be the reconfiguration of religion and state in Israel. Composed of online newspaper clippings, this will be a running post to which I will add over time. Of interest is the possibility of a shift away from the Political Judaism and the rightwing-conservative religious semi-autonomy that has built itself up in Israel since the 1970s towards something that might be called a Civil Judaism that integrates and envelops religion into society, as opposed to vice-versa. Nothing is set. Everything is in a state of emergence. On the horizon are reforms in education, the rabbinate, kashrut licensing, conversion, civil society agendas like civil marriage and gay marriage, governmental oversight of institutional bodies, public health and welfare. At stake is the Zionist project as a “secular” phenomenon and the “Jewish character” of the State of Israel. The Haredi parties and press are referring to the new government and its evil decrees (gezeriot) as the destruction of Judaism and the institutions that they have built up over the decades.

What reforms are on the horizon, here (English)

For Haredi rhetoric, here (Hebrew) and here (English)

Here in Hebrew.

Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, an important ultra-Orthodox rabbi in Israel weighs in here against evil decrees by a government that wants to make people less religious:

Now it is known that there is a new government, that they have the intention, and they say it openly, that they want [to issue] decrees to stop people being religious… [decrees] against the laws of the Torah, not in accordance with the laws of the Torah,” said Edelstein. “This is the plan so what do you do? What is the advice? It depends on merits! When there are merits there are no disturbances, when there are merits, the person who comes to purify themselves gets assistance,” continued the rabbi. Edelstein went on to say that ultra-Orthodox community needs to earn merit by assiduously observing the religious commandments and thereby earn divine grace to avert the decrees planned by the government.”

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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1 Response to Religion & State in Israel (Civil Judaism)

  1. dmf says:

    closer to home
    The Strange Afterlife of Roy Cohn with Marie Brenne

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