Israeli Religious Establishment Threatens Peace Agreement

By Halsell, Grace | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, May 31, 1994 | Go to article overview

Israeli Religious Establishment Threatens Peace Agreement


Halsell, Grace, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


Israeli Religious Establishment Threatens Peace Agreement

On a U.S. visit in the summer of 1993, an Israeli rabbi spoke against what he said was lack of religious freedom in Israel, where only one branch of Judaism is recognized. If Israel does not become more open to other denominations, he warned, Jews could turn against Judaism and the Jewish state might cease being "Jewish."

Considering that most Israeli "Jewish" leaders are secular Zionists and a majority of Israel's "Jewish" citizens say they do not believe in God, some might argue that the rabbi's fears already have come to pass. Assuming, however, that Israel is, as it claims, an "authentic" Jewish state, based on the religion of Judaism, and inhabited largely by Jews, who determines who is an "authentic" Jew? The answer is that a select few Israelis, all male and all Orthodox, now hold that power.

Before the creation of Israel, which gave land to Jews but not to non- Jews, the question of "Who is a Jew?" was a pure and simple religious matter. As with a Christian accepting Christianity or a Muslim accepting Islam, proclaiming oneself Jewish meant accepting Judaism as a religious faith.

Today in Israel, however, it is not so simple:

Item 1: Twenty-year-old Lev Pisahov died in the line of duty in the uniform of the Israeli army. However, on the night the young immigrant from Azerbaijan was interred in Israel, religious authorities decided that, although he had said he was Jewish, he could not be buried alongside other Israeli soldiers who had given their lives for the Jewish state. His father was Jewish, they said, but his mother was not. As a result, initially his body was "buried alone, in a corner," according to newspaper accounts, far from the bodies of soldiers deemed "authentic" Jews.

Item 2: Olga Haikov, a 42-year-old mother who acquired Israeli citizenship when she and her husband emigrated from the former Soviet republic of Georgia in 1992, was one of two Israeli women killed in an attack on a Jerusalem bus in a hijacking attempt by Palestinians. The night before Haikov was to be interred, an anonymous phone caller to a burial organization claimed that, although her husband was Jewish, the slain woman was not. "Minutes before the funeral," reported the July 7, 1993 Washington Times, "rabbis decided to bury [Haikov] in a section set aside for people whose Jewishness is in doubt. "The report added that an Orthodox rabbi refused to pray over her grave since she could not be classified as an authentic Jew.

Item 3: A U.S. Reform Jew moves to Israel. He falls in love with another Reform Jew. Although they wish to be married in a Reform synagogue, Israeli law will not permit this.

Item 4: An American couple, longstanding Conservative Jews, move to Israel. He dies and his wife wants to have a Conservative rabbi pray over his grave. Israel will not permit this.

Item 5: An American Christian converts to Judaism in a Conservative synagogue, another American converts in a Reform synagogue. If they move to Israel, will either be recognized as "authentic" Jews? It could depend.

Since the creation of the Jewish state in 1948, Israel's ultra-Orthodox leaders have increasingly gained power in religious as well as secular matters. Being "the established religion" of Israel, Orthodoxy permits no other interpretation of Judaism than its own.

The rabbi quoted at the beginning of this article, Ehud Bandel, spokesman for Conservative Judaism in Israel, warned that Orthodoxy was growing in strength in Israel, while the Conservative and Reform denominations, with which more than 60 percent of U.S. Jews identify, suffer from a lack of religious freedom.

"What is at stake in Israel is the Jewishness of the Jewish state," said Rabbi Bandel, the first native-born Israeli ordained as a Conservative rabbi. "Unless religious pluralism is recognized and adopted in Israel, we are facing a very dangerous situation and the unity of the Jewish people is threatened. …

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

Israeli Religious Establishment Threatens Peace Agreement
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.