Bittersweet Times

Maybe it is the fact that this seems to be one of the most powerful weeks in the contemporary Jewish calendar (the transition from Israel Memorial Day to Israel Independence Day, preceded a week ago by Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Memorial Day.) Or maybe it is the fact that I am overly sensitive at this time of year, but it drives me crazy that this is when the Chief Rabbinate in Israel decides once again to deal with the conversion issues. Now they are talking about revoking a conversion that is 15 years old!

While we are trying to build bridges to those on the periphery of the community, while we are trying to celebrate the miracle of Israel reborn in the midst of the worst tragedy that the Jewish community ever experienced, those who should understand what it is like to be a stranger are making it nearly impossible to enter the Jewish community—even as a convert to Judaism.

Simultaneously, it is the right time to celebrate the first non-Orthodox synagogue whose building was supported by the Ministry of Housing in Israel. The fact that it is a Reform synagogue is an affirmation for the pluralism that we seek in Israel and throughout the Jewish community worldwide, including America.

These two developments show us the dynamic of what it is to be a Jew in the 21st century - we are constantly pulled in various directions, with exhilaration and sadness mixed together.

1 Comment

  1. Both are causes for sadness. The first b/c a rabbi who was at the head of the conversion authority was apparently not playing by the rules himself and now many innocent people who thought they had converted successfully may now be put through more pain and difficulty that should have been necessary to complete their conversions.

    The second is also a cause for sadness b/c the Israeli government has gone back on a pledge that brought many Orthodox on board with the formation of the state in the first place…a pledge to uphold Orthodox Judaism as the religion of the modern State of Israel, though without coersion. Going back on that pledge by fiat of the Israeli Supreme Court would be like the US Supreme court trying to end slavery prior to a legislative amendment…it will just plunge the country into a deeper, more hostile divide.

    If the Israeli people were interested in pluralistic Judaism they would prevail upon their legislators to alter the Basic Law or enact statutes to that effect. That the American Reform movement-funded RAC got it done through an elitist and undemocratic Israeli Supreme Court is only further indication of to what lengths people will go in order to force their values down the throats of others. Just another example of western Cultural Imerialism exerted upon the largely non-western, traditional Israeli population.

    Comment by marc — May 12, 2008 @ 11:11 am

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