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Hiddush CEO Rabbi Uri Regev & Chairman Stanley P. Gold

A message from Hiddush

Feb. 1, 2018
16 Sh'vat, 5778

Dear Friends,

As noted in this newsletter, the battle over clashes in the realm of religion and state is heating up. This is reflected in grassroots demonstrations regarding Shabbat in the face of coercive pressures by the Haredi political parties, as well as in ongoing polling demonstrating the rise of the civil Yesh Atid party (which is associated in the public mind with religious freedom).

Today's news sheds light on a new effort by the Haredi parties to permanently avoid requiring their adherents to equally shoulder the burden of national security. This time it's a frantic attempt to preempt the nearing Supreme Court deliberations over the legality of the mass exemption of yeshiva students from IDF service. A demand made by the Haredi parties to pass a constitutional bill regarding the study of Torah was revealed.

While fully agreeing with the first clause of the draft: "the study of Torah is a basic value in the heritage of the Jewish people," one must realize that reality trumps the imagination when it comes to the unimaginable. The draft lays down that "those who have undertaken to commit to a long period of Torah study will be considered as serving the Jewish people, and their right to be exempt from other obligations -among them: security and national service- will be recognized."

Such a constitutional bill, if legislated, will not only exempt all yeshiva students from military or civil service, but it could potentially enable them to be exempt from other duties, such as paying income and municipal taxes, and of course(!) they could demand to be paid as civil servants. When will the Coalition partners of the Haredi parties recognize that the time is long overdue to show these ultra-Orthodox parties the door??? It seems that there is no ceiling on chutzpah, and when it comes to dodging their national duties, the Haredi parties see no limit.

The answer is very clear - it starts and ends with Hiddush's core mission to bring into full bloom Israel's Declaration of Independence's promise of religious freedom and equality.


Stanley P. Gold,
Hiddush Chair

Rabbi Uri Regev,
Hiddush President


Defense Minister Liberman:
"Rabbis are undermining the
foundations of the State"

The battle over both the principle of equality in shouldering the civic burden (namely: whether yeshiva students are going to do their share in defense of the country), as well as the controversy over women serving in the IDF, are heating up and nearing an explosion point.

Yesterday, Defense Minister Liberman reacted to recent public pronouncements of leading Israeli rabbis from the "Zionist ultra-Orthodox" camp that were aimed against women's military service. Liberman said, "I made it crystal clear that rabbis who are trying to challenge this reality will have no foothold in the IDF... This is tantamount to dismantling the foundations of the State in its entirety."

Liberman's strong language followed on a number of public pronouncements of prominently placed rabbinic figures who are part of a growing campaign against women serving in combat roles and women's servce in the military altogether. Clearly this escalation in its intensity and harshness of the assault on women's military service is an increasingly hysterical response to the fact that more and more religious young women choose to serve in the IDF, in defiance of these rabbinic edicts.

As Hiddush has argued from its inception, the challenge of religious freedom and equality is a battle between those who desire to see Israel as truly both Jewish and democratic, and those for whom nothing short of a theocracy will satisfy their view of a Jewish state.

Click HERE for full article

Israeli couples are voting with their feet!

The battle for marriage freedom is getting stronger!

The Ministry of Religious Services has now reported a 4% drop in the number of couples marrying via the Rabbinate from 2016 to 2017. (The decline is really greater, because they ignore the increase in the Jewish population). In Tel Aviv the decline is greater than 15%!!

Not surprisingly, they accuse everyone except themselves and the long-standing monopoly that the State granted the Rabbinate over all matters of marriage and divorce of Jews in Israel: "A diminishing number of people believe in the institution of marriage," "They want to circumvent the bureaucratic divorce process," "Western phenomena are penetrating Israel," "They do not want to settle down, regardless of the Rabbinate," etc., etc.

What do you think, do these spokespeople really believe what they say and are simply blind to reality, or it all spin intended to shirk responsibility? The irony is that the Rabbinate's monopoly over marriage and divorce is the major threat to the institution of family in Israel. People increasingly prefer to avoid the Rabbinate, which is so alien to the reality of their lives and values, and in many areas (like gender equality) it is antithetical to their convictions. This is not about "the bureaucratic divorce process," but rather a reality in which many Israeli Jews will do whatever it takes not to fall into the hands of the misogynistic rabbinical courts in matters of divorce - and rightly so!!

Hiddush surveys clearly show that 4 out of every five secular Jews would prefer not to marry via the Rabbinate. Further, when gauging the level of importance Israelis attach to conflicts over religion & state, the Orthodox rabbinic control over marriage and divorce rates highest.

For those who are not yet familiar with Hiddush's unique international marriage freedom map, which provides a comparative perspective of where Israel ranks in the world (spoiler: it's very low and resembles countries run by sharia law more than Western democracies), see here:

Hiddush in the media

Haaretz: "The Intrusive Ways Israel Maintains the Purity of the Jewish Priestly Dynasty," by Shakked Auerbach, January 27, 2018


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