Judaism and the State of Israel Competing Claims of Religion and Secular Statehood Are Fought over Daily on the Political Stage. Expelled from Spain, Jews Found Safe Haven in Turkey and Elsewhere. but the Scourge of Anti-Semitism and the Need to Reconcile Religious and Secular Demands Continue to Challenge Jews

By Peter Ford, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, April 1, 1992 | Go to article overview

Judaism and the State of Israel Competing Claims of Religion and Secular Statehood Are Fought over Daily on the Political Stage. Expelled from Spain, Jews Found Safe Haven in Turkey and Elsewhere. but the Scourge of Anti-Semitism and the Need to Reconcile Religious and Secular Demands Continue to Challenge Jews


Peter Ford, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


FIVE hundred years after the expulsion from Spain, Jews in the State of Israel are struggling to recreate their "golden age," this time in their own homeland.

But their efforts to build a modern state while remaining loyal to their religious traditions have sparked conflicts that some philosophers fear could threaten the future of Judaism.

"Either there will be a powerful renaissance, or enormous assimilation," predicts David Hartman, an orthodox rabbi and leading Jewish thinker. "It is not going to be neutral."

And in a manner unique to Israel, the competing claims of religion and secular statehood are not only debated among philosophers of religion, but fought over daily on the political stage.

"Everyone wants to find a balance between tradition and modernity," says David Rosen, a former chief rabbi of Ireland. "All the drama of life in Israel is in finding that balance." Institutional religion

Although no exact figures are available, about 20 percent of the Israeli population observes Jewish religious laws, an equal proportion define themselves as secular, and a large group in the middle reflect a wide range of levels of attachment to Judaism.

They live in a secular state, but one in which Judaism plays the role of an institutionalized religion, bestowed at the foundation of the country in 1948.

That confusing and often confused circumstance is reflected in the fact that in this modern state, there is no such thing as a civil marriage. A rabbinate representing social attitudes that the majority of Israelis regard as deeply outmoded, if not medieval, enjoys the exclusive power to marry Jews and to grant them divorces.

At the same time, religious academies known as yeshivas enjoy generous state funding, the Knesset (parliament) has passed laws seeking to enforce religious observance, and yeshiva students are excused from the one central duty of all other Israelis: military service.

Such issues have staked out the battleground in Israel between the authorities of orthodox Judaism and those citizens who resent such intrusions into their private lives.

The result, respected philosopher of religion Yeshayahu Leibowitz worries, is that "here, Judaism is despised, because it is a department of a secular power. And as an office of state, Judaism is doomed."

Ruth Weissert, a pediatrician, reflects the views of most Israelis when she complains that the rabbinate "intrudes very deeply into very private parts of people's lives, and does not realize that it is not bearable." But Dr. Weissert also speaks for the broad majority of Jews here when she says that although she herself feels no moral obligation to abide by Jewish law, "Israel would almost not be rightfully existent if religion played no role at all." Secular Zionism

The Zionists who dreamed and then created the State of Israel often saw Judaism as an obstacle and were widely viewed as hostile to religion, says Mr. Hartman. The fact that they chose the land of Israel in which to found their state itself had deep religious significance, he adds.

"Zionism on one level was a secular revolution," he says. "But it happened in a place that returns people to religion." The land of Israel, rich in Biblical place names and allusions, "forces you into remembering the past," he points out, and the Jews' past is inextricably linked with their religion.

Among orthodox Jews to whom the past is centrally important, the creation of the State of Israel is viewed in many different ways. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Judaism and the State of Israel Competing Claims of Religion and Secular Statehood Are Fought over Daily on the Political Stage. Expelled from Spain, Jews Found Safe Haven in Turkey and Elsewhere. but the Scourge of Anti-Semitism and the Need to Reconcile Religious and Secular Demands Continue to Challenge Jews
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.