A message from Hiddush
Mar. 29, 2018
13 Nisan, 5778
The four Passover questions are designed to engage our children in the Seder, the story of the Haggadah, and the importance of freedom and liberation from bondage!
The enslavement of the Israelites in Egypt is an important memory, but, on THIS holiday of freedom, no less important is our awareness of the ongoing battle for freedom of religion and conscience TODAY. Ironically, these are denied to people in Israel, especially to Jews!
The unholy alliance between religion and state perpetuates and empowers religious coercion and inequality for secular Jews and non-Orthodox Jews; and it undermines the foundations of democracy and rule of law in Israel. Challenges remain in many areas, and in others there are have been achievements. It is important that we be aware of these, that we know that we have the power to change this situation, and that we understand that we are not free to disengage ourselves from this critical struggle.
In order to succeed, there is a need for close cooperation between Israelis and Diaspora Jewish communities, both because Israel and its future are important to us all, and also because this unfulfilled promise of freedom of religion and pluralism also hurts Diaspora Jewry and the future of its alliance with the Jewish democratic State of Israel. Therefore, wherever we may be celebrating the Seder, whether in Israel or outside it, we must see ourselves as if we left Egypt and renew our commitment to freedom in its broadest sense, both Jewish and universal; and we must understand that today's struggle for freedom includes this pivotal battle for religious freedom in Israel.
Wishing you a meaningful Holiday of Freedom,
Stanley P. Gold,
Rabbi Uri Regev,
Hiddush in the media
* Four out of five Israeli Jews want haredim to serve in army, Jerusalem Post, March 6, 2018 [link]
* Conversations With The Ultra-Orthodox Women Fighting For Their Rights, The Forward, March 8, 2018 [link]
* Israel’s Chief Rabbinate is a threat to Jewish unity and democracy, by Rabbi Uri Regev, JTA, March 27, 2018 [link]
Israel’s Chief Rabbinate is a threat
to Jewish unity and democracy
By Rabbi Uri Regev, JTA:
Last week, Israel’s Sephardic chief rabbi, Yitzhak Yosef, explained a point of ritual by likening a black child born to white parents to a “monkey.” Immediately following the publication of his racist remarks, a storm erupted. It was widely broadcast, including by JTA, Newsweek and the Palestinian media.
Britain’s chief rabbi called Chief Rabbi Yosef's remarks “totally unacceptable.” British Jewry’s Board of Deputies accused Yosef of “betraying his office.” The Anti-Defamation League said his statement was “utterly unacceptable.” You may have been among the dozens and dozens who denounced Yosef on Twitter and Facebook.
Such outrage is welcome, but raises the question: Where have you been? Is this really the most egregious utterance made by Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, his late father Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, his brother Rabbi Avraham Yosef or the other fundamentalists among Chief Rabbinate officials and in Israeli religious politics?
Click HERE to read more
How is this Passover different?
Throughout Israel's history there have always been yeshiva students who studied in yeshivas and did not serve in the IDF or seek gainful employment to provide for their families. However, this year, thanks to the unholy alliance of religion and state in Israel, the number of yeshiva students living off of Israeli taxpayers increased. This year, the gap between the government's IDF recruitment targets and the number of yeshiva students who enlisted increased. And, this year, the number of yeshiva students who integrated into the workforce, contributed in some capacity to the Israeli economy, and supported their families decreased.
Israel has placed a value on Torah study and supported yeshivas since its very founding. However, this last year, contrary to the will of the overwhelming majority of the Israeli public, the state budget for yeshivas, from taxpayers' coffers, reached an all-time high!
Discrimination against women
The battle for the equal status of women in Israeli society has been going on since before the founding of the state due to the pressure of the religious establishment, which opposes this principle. However, this last year, public support for gender equality increased, as did public opposition to religiously based discrimination.
Throughout the years, the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate has always had a monopoly over the marriage and divorce of Jews in Israel. However, this last year, there was an all-time record high number of Israeli citizens (~700,000) who cannot legally get married in Israel at all, and the public's support for more legal marriage options increased. For the first time, a majority of the Jewish public expressed its preference to not get married via the Chief Rabbinate (55%), and among secular Jewish Israelis - 81%!