...On Monday, a Knesset committee approved a bill sponsored by David Rotem, a member of the nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, that would give the Orthodox rabbinate control of all conversions in Israel. If passed, this legislation would place authority over all Jewish births, marriages and deaths — and, through them, the fundamental questions of Jewish identity — in the hands of a small group of ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, rabbis.Yet, we think she did not go far enough.
The move has set in motion a sectarian battle that is not only dividing Israeli society but threatening to sever the vital connection between Israel and the American Jewish diaspora.
The problem is not simply that some of these rabbinical functionaries, who are paid by the state and courted by politicians, are demonstrably corrupt... Rather, it is that the beliefs of a tiny minority of the world’s Jews are on the verge of becoming the Israeli government’s definition of Judaism, for all Jews....
We think that the rabbis who are usurping the power to decide who is a Jew are actually engaging in a war on Judaism - the forms of Judaism that are more liberal, modern and welcoming than the type of religion that they represent. The rabbis in question have never recognized progressive Judaism as an authentic expression of the faith. Reform and Conservative Jews are members of legitimate religions, they will say with Talmudic smirks, but just not affiliated with any real forms of Judaism. Heh, heh.
Well, these guys are plainly waging war on their fellow Jews.
Or worse. These guys are making it hard for people to become Jews. These guys want fewer Jews in the world.
Reminds us of the ridiculous rhetoric of the intermarriage alarmists of our day and age. Intermarriage is a "spiritual Holocaust," they say. When in fact intermarriage was and is a statistical gain for the Jewish people.
New York magazine put the question, "Are American Jews Disappearing?" on its front cover in July of 1997. We will soon need a Kaddish for American Jews, we observed back then, if we were to believe Rabbis Ephraim Buchwald and Norman Lamm -- and a vocal cadre of their cohorts -- as quoted in that story. The soaring intermarriage rate will lead to the disappearance of our community they said thirteen years ago. It is a “spiritual holocaust.”
We are still shaking our heads so many years later at this egregious misuse of the Holocaust metaphor.
Well, to even the score, here is our retort. "Are Israeli Jews Disappearing?"
Yessir, youbetcha. The restrictive interpretation of "Who is a Jew" by the Orthodox rabbinic exclusivists in Israel will lead to the diminishing of our Israeli Jewish population, and a lessening of the Jewish population worldwide.
It is nothing short of a, "Jewish population Holocaust."
Wow, there, that feels good. We waited a long time to give that one back to those out-there meshuggenah Orthodox rabbinic rhetoricians.