Sunday, November 07, 2010

Sign this letter drive! Now!

Hiddush for Religious Freedom and Equality has this letter campaign addressed to Netanyahu up on their website. I found this link on my Facebook wall, but you can reach it without being a member of Facebook. If you are a member, I urge you to go to Hiddush's page and affiliate yourself with this very worthy group.

Hiddush – For Religious Freedom and Equality – strives to fulfill the promise of freedom of religion and conscience, promised in Israel’s Declaration of Independence. Hiddush -Hebrew for innovation and renewal - works to raise public awareness of matters of religion and state in Israel, and rallies the support of both Israelis and world Jewry, to join together in promoting religious freedom and equality, so that Israel can achieve its full potential as a free and flourishing Jewish democracy.

The basic letter reads as follows:

Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu,

We live in different Jewish communities around the world, but support Israel and deeply appreciate the critical role the Jewish state plays for all Jews. Therefore we have been closely following recent developments and attempts to stomp out Jewish pluralism in Israel, under pressure to grant further monopoly over Jewish life to the ultra-Orthodox establishment.

Free, pluralistic Jewish communities are flourishing around the world, but for Jews like us, many of whom are Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and Secular – Israel is becoming increasingly hostile. We are heartened to know that the overwhelming majority of Israelis share our views and values, but are disappointed to see that your cabinet and the Knesset turn their back on the Israel’s public yearning and that of the majority of world Jewry. Today’s events at the Knesset, where the Conversion bill, granting greater authorities to the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate and jeopardizing our Movements’ conversions, and at the Kotel, where a woman was arrested for carrying the Torah, are greatly disturbing to us. Our Judaism and our Rabbis are not recognized in Israel. It pains us to see the toll this treatment is taking by alienating the younger generation and many among us from Israel at a time when our solidarity is of paramount importance.

The political pressure placed on you by ultra-Orthodox parties is immense, but we urge you to stand strong and firmly reject any and all attempts toward religious theocracy in Israel. The future of Israel and its ties to World Jewry depends on your leadership to protect Jewish pluralism and democracy. For the sake of Israel and the Jewish People – don’t allow the core values of respect and equality to be traded away for short-sighted political deals. It’s time for the promise of “Freedom of Religion and Conscience”, guaranteed in Israel’s Declaration of Independence, to become a reality!.

We support you in your challenge to stand up and say ‘No’ to any proposal that would harm world Jewry and religious pluralism Israel – so that Jews of the world can continue to be one nation with Israel as our spiritual homeland.

Each person can edit the letter as they see fit, so I added this paragraph:

Everyone has a basic human right to freedom of religious opinion and freedom of religious practice. It is simply historically incorrect and intellectually dishonest to claim that there is only one way to interpret Torah. The reason we will not make Aliyah is that I will not subject myself and my children to religious tyranny. My forebears fled Europe to escape religious tyranny - why would I consent to endure it now? Stand up for the rights of all Jews, regardless of sect. Driving away American Jews can hardly be an intelligent foreign policy move, either. There are lots of issues at stake here, and none of them are served well by letting the Chereidi cram their medieval opinions down modern people's throats. Intelligent, educated people simply aren't going to stand for it. And when it's clear to American Jews that they are considered "not Jewish" by the Chief Rabbinate, the future of the State of Israel is in jeopardy. How many will urge their Congressional leaders to support Israel when they figure out the State has allowed them to be rejected from having rights as Jews (marriage, burial, etc.) in what is supposedly their own real country? I certainly won't. And I'm hardly the only person with that opinion.

It will only take a minute - so act now! Let Netanyahu know that American Jews are not amused by the Chief Rabbinate's campaign to delegitimize all non-chereidi sects of Judaism. Failing to take a stand for religious freedom will simply guarantee that if you ever make Aliyah, you won't have any at all. Right now you have precious little, as the Chief Rabbinate imposes burdens of proof to establish "Jewishness" that few non-chereidi can meet, especially Americans. Don't sit idly by while Israel is taken over by extremists. Please.

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