Monday, August 2, 2010

Boycott the Israeli Rabbanut

Cross-posted on DovBear

The “who is a Jew” situation in Israel is getting preposterous. A granddaughter of holocaust survivors who wants to get married is being asked by the Rabbanut to provide 4 generations of ketubot on the maternal side to prove her Jewishness. And the Rotem bill, set to be taken up by the Knesset in the next few months, would solidify Rabbanut control over all conversions.

It's time to end the Rabbanut's power in Israel. We should call on all couples wishing to get married, even fully Orthodox ones with impeccable "Jewish" credentials, to get married in Cyprus in a civil ceremony, and then to have a private chuppah in Israel that has no Rabbanut sanction at all. All people should rise up and reject Rabbanut control over all their lifecycle events, not just when they fear being rejected by the Rabbanut.

Basically, we should call for a boycott of the Rabbanut. Do an end run around them to protest their abuse of power and increasingly extremist standards. By getting married within the rules of the Rabbanut, Modern Orthodox Israelis, for example, are helping perpetuate their regime.

Israel was founded as a haven for Jews and as a Jewish state. But why does that mean that the Israeli Rabbanut should have the right to dictate what Judaism is for everyone?

Let there be separation of shul and state in Israel. Israel can be a Jewish country in the sense that it provides a place for Jews and for Judaism to be safe. The Rabbanut can still exist, and be funded by the state, but only as an optional service for those who want it. And the heterodox movements should also have their own, optional streams within the Rabbanut.

Sadly, though, demographics in Israel make it likely the current official religious extremism will just get worse and worse.