All Non Ultra-Orthodox Should Make the Same Declaration
LostMessiah, March 29, 2016
With the previous post in mind, and the utter disgust we feel for the hypocrisy of the ultra-Orthodox community and the conviction many of us have that they are nothing more than a cult, and what might be a radical terrorist cult, at that; we would like to see all non Ultra-Orthodox Jews separate themselves from ultra-Orthodox Jewry. And we use the term “Jewry” loosely in that context.
Reform Judaism Should Declare Itself Separate From the Bigoted Forms of ultra-Orthodoxy
Carlo Strenger Mar 29, 2016 3:13 PM
Why should non-Orthodox Jews care about the pronunciations of leaders of a religion that declares gays to be an inferior species and excludes women from the public sphere?
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti Defamation League, has recently published a call for American Jews to take action against ultra-Orthodox hate speech in Israel. He quotes memorable examples of such utterances: MK Israel Eichler has compared Reform Jews to mentally ill patients; Religious Affairs Minister David Azoulay said Reform Jews just aren’t Jews; and Rabbi David Yosef has called Reform Jews idolaters.
To this Greenblatt could have added other pearls of wisdom from the ultra-Orthodox establishment on other topics: In a lovely interview in 2013, Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, then deputy minister of religious services, explained his hierarchy of human beings, in which gays are ranked way lower than heterosexuals, but still have higher souls than gentiles, who belong to an altogether lower grade.
In recent days, after he condoned the preventive killing of Palestinian terrorists, Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef has just let us know that gentiles are actually not allowed to live in Israel at all, and that they only do because we (meaning the Orthodox establishment) are not strong enough to enforce this. He also added that the only reason some gentiles should be allowed to live here is to serve Jewish needs.
I can only feel the deepest disdain for such statements, which seem to be taken from the darkest middle ages, and share Jonathan Greenblatt’s outrage about them. But we differ on the tactic that needs to be applied.
Greenblatt’s call will not have any more effect than protestations by Jewish Americans have yielded so far. The Orthodox stranglehold on Israeli religious affairs is not going to be broken in the foreseeable future for the simple reason that on demographic grounds, no stable government without the support of Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, parties can be formed, which means that even a government more committed to liberal democracy and the separation of state and religion than the present one would not interfere with the Orthodox monopoly.
I therefore suggest a different strategy for non-orthodox Jews in the United States: simply declare the Orthodox establishment as irrelevant for your religion. This is what happened during the Reformation in Europe: After initial struggles with Rome, the pope and the Curia, Protestantism declared itself as completely independent of the Catholic Church. It no longer sought its approval, developed its own institutions and has flourished ever since. The pope’s pronunciations are as irrelevant for Protestant denominations as are those of an imam or an Israeli chief rabbi, for that matter.
Reform Jews should do the same. Why on earth should you care about what rabbis like Azoulay, Yosef or Eichler, or Chief Rabbi Yosef say? Why should you care about the pronunciations of the leaders of a religion that declares gays to be an inferior species and excludes women from the public sphere? After all, you are not personally offended by papal rulings that you disagree with – for example, the previous two popes’ insistence that the use of condoms in AIDS-ridden areas in Africa continue to be forbidden. For good reasons you are likely to think that such rulings are backward, primitive and inhuman, and you may deplore them, but no pope is a religious authority for you.
Non-Orthodox Jews should relate to the more bigoted parts of ultra-Orthodoxy in the same way. They share nothing with your open, humanistic and universalist worldview. You simply should declare that you no longer consider yourself part of the same religion as theirs.
Additional Reading on the Topic from HaHaretz:
I’m Happy the ultra-Orthodox Are Insulting Reform Jews
Trump-like, Haredi rabbis are trying to distract their young people by non-stop attacks on others. That’s a compliment to Reform’s growing influence in Israel –and a sign of the Haredi leadership’s desperation.
Ultra-Orthodox Up the Ante Against Reform Jews, but Not to Extent of Threatening Coalition
New, non-Orthodox prayer space at Western wall and official meetings for Reform rabbis with Netanyahu and Knesset members have incensed Haredi political leadership.
Sephardi Chief Rabbi Says non-Jews Forbidden From Living in the Land of Israel
Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef argues that Jewish law prohibits non-Jews from living in Israel unless they have accepted Noachide laws, adding that some non-Jews live in Israel to serve the Jewish population.