I have read a few disturbing news stories lately. It seems as if there is a new demographic “concern” in Israel, this time its not the high birth rate of the Arab population…it seems that the “secular” Jews are very concerned about the high birthrate of the “Orthodox” Jews.
Before I go on I think you need to understand the “observance” level that I am coming from. I belong to a Conservative synagogue, am a fairly regular minyan participan. I keep Kosher inside and outside of my house (following the Conservative Halacaha). I don’t work (meaning my job) on shabbos or holiday’s, nor will I post on this blog, but I will drive, watch TV, use my PC etc. Each Friday Night and erev festival, I sit down with my family for a traditional Shabbos/Fesitival meal with the traditional “rituals.” I didn’t grow up particularly observant (we were 3 day a year Jews) but over the last ten years my family has added mitzvah upon mitzvah to our daily lifestyle. I wear a kippah or a baseball cap all the time to remind me that I need to be spending my time adding mitzvahs not embarrassing God or my fellow Jews.
To my more observant friends..I am not particularly “religious.” But to many of my less observant friends and family…well lets say when they see a newspaper headline that talks about “ultra-orthodox” Jews they quickly search the story to see if my name is in it. Either way I am not Orthodox I am part of the conservative movement (whatever the JTS defines it as this week).
With that as a context I must tell you that the tone of articles that I have read in the Jewish press lately are particularly disturbing. Yaron London wrote in Ynet that the birthrate of Orthodox Jews will put democracy at risk because they will one day out number secular Jews. Rabbi Yoffi’s Blog in Jpost asked if the Chief Rabbi of Israel should be a Democratically position (since he lives in the US I don’t know how he would be able to vote for a chief anything of Israel). Last week and forgive me for not remembering the exact story and details there was an article in one of the Israeli papers, where the writer interviewed an Israeli cab driver who complained that the growing number of Orthodox Jews has forced him to start wearing a Kippah so the Orthodox will come into his cab. Oy such horrible troubles.
I find it strange that in the US (where both Rabbi Yoffi and I both live) defines itself as a secular state, but is really a Christian state; Israel by definition is a Jewish state that tries its hardest to be a secular state. Israel is the rebirth of a religious Jewish state that existed almost 2000 years ago. It is that religious history that gives Israel part her legitimacy. It is the biblical prophecy of the ingathering of the exiles that gives legitimacy to the right of return. We Jews are unique in the world we are a people and a religion. Survival is only assured when the two are linked together.It says so on the deed to the land, the Torah
As a Jewish state certain things should be sacrosanct about public institutions, they should be Kosher and they should be Shomer Shabbos. Notice I said public institutions. Privately owned businesses should not be FORCED to observe Jewish law, but if someone who is observant does not want to by from a store that is open on Shabbos, that is just as much a personal choice as the store owner who wants to open on Shabbos…THAT IS DEMOCRACY. If a town wants to ban selling pork with-in its boarders how is different from the zoning laws in my neighborhood that says I can’t cut down the trees in my back yard. And if the public does not like it…let them vote the bums out.
What are the Secular Jews afraid of? What are the Reform and Conservative Jews afraid of? If you are in the galut and are so worried that Orthodox Jews will take over the Jewish State…then get off your arses…pack up your bags and make Aliyah. If you are living in Israel and are frightened…well tough tuchas! Talk to some Democrats in the US–NOW THATS FRIGHTENED. Besides when was the last time an Israeli Party has had more than half the seats in the Knesset? The answer would be never. Even in the days of Ben Gurion there has never been a party in the history of Israel that has enjoyed a parliamentary majority. What does that mean…59 years of compromise. And with the nature of our people (two Jews, five opinions) that will not change very quickly.
So the bottom line remains, without Torah there is no Israel–it is God’s promise that grants us the legitimacy to live on the land. Its funny how Israel, the Jewish State, has been ruled by “secular” Jews throughout its 59 year history. Maybe its time for Israel to become what it is supposed to be—A JEWISH STATE. Like Rabbi Yoffi, I can’t vote in the upcoming primaries in Israel. And to be honest I feel a bit weird endorsing a candidate in Israel, when I live in the galut. So I won’t –it would be very foolish, and besides I don’t know enough about all the issues. But for those of you who are voting in the upcoming Likud primary I urge you to do your homework and take a good look at Moshe Feiglin. From my limited knowledge it seems that he is looking to the Jewish back in the Jewish State. He is NOT looking to establish a theocracy but he his looking to establish a Jewish Democracy based on Jewish Values—he wants to “meet the terms of the lease to the land” that God gave us.