Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ignorance isn't bliss.

American Jews are still largely unconcerned about the Jewish Civil War raging on around them - a war that will affect their future and their children's futures directly and mercilessly. Many don't seem to even know what's going on. However, skirmishes continue on both fronts: MO Rabbis in Israel are attempting to maneuver a bypass for the Chereidi marriage process and some American Jews are complaining about the discrimination against non-ultra-orthodox Jews. On the legislature's end, a first step - pathetically inadequate but a step nonetheless - has been taken toward civil marriage and recognition of marriage as a basic human right. In order to have a civil marriage, you basically have to renounce religious faith completely - but hopefully that will cause enough of an outcry to get it changed to a real basic right to marriage.

In the meantime, the facts about the war are becoming more widely known. As this blog has complained many times before, non-ultra-orthodox Jews are treated like dirt by the Israeli Rabbinate, and are not considered Jewish.
The Magenta Elephant in the Room
When [the children of] Interfaith people visit Israel
by Robin Margolis, October 20, 2009

...I have spoken to many Jewish outreach professionals about this. I've asked them to please explain why interfaith family trips never include even one hour to meet with resident Israeli half-Jewish people -- who might give the American interfaith families a realistic picture of their lives in Israel -- living in fear of immigration bureaucrats yanking their Jewish identity papers; being refused permission to marry Jews with two Jewish parents; delayed (sometimes permanently) Orthodox conversions; being called "non-Jews" and "erev rav" (mixed rabble) and contents of "pooper scoopers" in the Israeli newspapers; and yet still being compelled to serve in the IDF and pay taxes...

...the IDF staff running the military conversion to Judaism programs -- they have many descendants of intermarriage among their students, who are tired of being called "non-Jews" and being buried in special sections of IDF cemeteries among the Druze and Christian soldiers, away from the areas set aside for Jews with two Jewish parents...

...These young half-Jewish adults haven't been told that the Israeli Law of Return (allowing anyone with a Jewish parent or grandparent to make aliyah) currently operates as a "bait and switch." Once half-Jewish people arrive in Israel, there is a strong probability that they will be classified as "non-Jews" if they cannot produce enough documentation certifying either that they have a biological Jewish mother or an Orthodox conversion. Hostile Israeli immigration bureaucrats and Haredi-dominated rabbinical courts are reversing Orthodox conversions and rejecting proofs of having a Jewish mother or a Jewish father that were deemed quite sufficient two decades ago, leaving thousands of half-Jewish people stranded as second-class "non-Jew" Israeli citizens...

Some of the comments posted to this article were very astute. In particular there was one comment that reflects the real situation of most American Jews, who are blithely unaware of their de facto status:

Great article! Israel's policies regarding interfaith couples and being Jewish enough for immigration, but not for anything else have always rubbed me the wrong way. It's one reason I've not spent more time in Israel than on a birthright trip. My mother is Jewish, so in theory I'd be Jewish enough for the the Haredim. However, we are Reform Jews and are probably the most practicing of any of our family since they came to America. I'm sure there's not a way to sufficiently document my Jewishness to the liking of the Orthodox rabbinate in Israel. I don't like the idea of having to "convert" to a religion I'm already a part of. It's insulting...[limberliz, 10/21/09 12:38 pm]

Yes, it is insulting, and it's meant to be. It's intended to be degrading, because the UO want Reform and Conservative, etc., and yes, even MO Jews to feel as if their "past life" was a falsehood, that only the UO/Chereidi have "real" Judaism.

And if you walk away - well, that's just fine with them. They don't WANT people who won't submit to their backwards, misogynist, unhygienic, racist and ignorant leaders. American's can't understand that. In truth, Americans think their monetary support buys them acceptance. But that's a dangerous fallacy. The Chereidi use people with money for their money. They con't CARE about them personally, and will not hesitate to discard whole families, including children, to stand up for their ideological crusade when it gets down to the wire. This shouldn't be that hard for Americans to understand, but for some reason it is. To the Rabbinate non-UO/Chereidi are just another resource to exploit. They do NOT consider us fellow Jews until we submit without reservation to their powermongering and control.

Some MO Rabbis in Israel, however, are trying to take back some of the lost ground - not because they care about Reform, Conservative, Secular, etc. Jews, though. No, indeed. They just want to avoid having civil marriage instituted at all.

Jerusalem Post Online
Tzohar Rabbis: Privatize marriage registration
By MATTHEW WAGNER Oct 22, 2009 0:29
hat tip: Failed Messiah]

A group of religious Zionist rabbis are calling to privatize the marriage registration process to stop what they call the Chief Rabbinate's inefficient, unfriendly and overly stringent bureaucracy from turning off secular Israelis to religion.

However, a senior member of the Chief Rabbinate said he and others would oppose any attempts to change the way marriage registration was performed.

The rabbinic standoff pits religious Zionists against a more haredi spiritual leadership that has been gaining power within the Chief Rabbinate in recent decades...

..."If, heaven forbid, there are civil marriages in Israel, God will know to blame petty religious functionaries who care only about their own jobs," said Tzohar chairman Rabbi David Stav...

...Tzohar wants to break the monopoly of local rabbis over marriage registration and open it up to competition. Currently a man and woman who want to marry must register with the rabbi of the city in which one of the two lives. Tzohar wants to change the directives so a couple would be able to register with any rabbi in the country who is recognized by the Chief Rabbinate...

But this would not be any real benefit to most American Jews, because the Chief Rabbinate has made it no secret that only UO/Chereidi people are "real" Jews - everyone else is either a fake or apikorus.

...dozens of converts who have attempted to register in cities such as Ashdod, Petah Tikva, Rehovot, Ma'aleh Adumim and Beersheba have been turned away by the local rabbis because they are not considered Jewish.

...For the first time in Israeli history, a significant segment of the Zionist population was not Jewish according to Orthodox criteria. These immigrants served in the army, participated in all aspects of society and defined themselves as Israelis, but could not marry.

In addition, many secular Israelis who are Jewish according to Halacha nevertheless prefer not to marry in a religious ceremony and see the Orthodox monopoly over marriages as a form of religious coercion.

Stav said he feared that unless Orthodox rabbis began to provide secular Israelis with better, more efficient religious services in a friendlier environment, pressure would build to amend legislation to enable civil marriages.

"I see mixed marriages between Jews and non-Jews as a spiritual disaster," said Stav. "And I want to do everything in my power to stop it."

Stav added that "in recent years, the Chief Rabbinate has deviated from its original mission of serving the entire Jewish nation, both secular and religious and making sure that Orthodoxy remains relevant. Tzohar is trying to return the Chief Rabbinate to that original mission."

It's original mission, however, appears to have been to prevent people from exercising their basic human rights, including the right to marriage, the right to divorce, and the right to freedom of religious observance. If you're not ultra-orthdox or not Chereidi, they don't believe you have these rights, and if you're born Jewish, they intend to force you to comply with Chereidi rulings even if you've never been Chereidi a day in your life and have no intention of being Chereidi ever. It is, in fact, religius coercion and it violates both the founding principles of the State of Israel and people's basic human rights.

And it needs to stop. The only marriages, divorces, or conversions that the Chereidi and ultra-orthodox should be allowed to oversee are those of people who have voluntarily decided to join that sect. Jews of any other sect, or no sect at all, should not be subject to religious coercion and denial of their basic human rights.

Americans, on the other hand, seem to have no idea what's even going on, much less why - or what to do to protest to the Israeli government that their rights should be respected and preserved. By the time they realize there is a serious problem, it will likely be too late. The Chereidi are demographically poised to take over the majority of vote and when they do, that will be the end of the Law of Return as we know it, the end of civil rights for non-UO/Chereidi people, and the end of any semblance of a secular state that respects all sects of Judaism or even recognizes all sects of Judaism.

If American Jews don't care, then so be it. But they ought to at least know what they're doing as they throw their children's rights away - and most don't.

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