Thursday, June 10, 2010

Correspondence from Mivtzoim

I've been busy as of late with studying for my smicha tests (one Sunday, another one Wednesday, both on Ta'aruvois), and with preparing all the learning material we will be having our children learn throughout the summer in camp. Maybe more about that later. For now, to keep you interested, I've copied a few emails that I exchanged a while back with an older man I used to visit on mivtzoim last year. He is a lawyer, and has an office in North Hollywood. I could easily spend hours speaking to him every week. He liked printing out a few articles from the week that he had read online, and we would discuss them. Normally he would be angered by something some charedi somewhere said or did, and we would discuss Chabad's views, and my own personal ones.

Anyway, that was a long introduction, you can just read parts of our conversation:

(From him, to me)
If you don't pursue it, all the best girls will go somewhere else. Its funny you should ask what is bothering me. A lot. Israel now has at least two categories of Jews, first class and second class. There may be a third class, those who claim they are Jewish but have no DNA ties to a Jewish parent, etc. According to what I have read, the Chabad leadership in Israel has joined with the other orthodox elements in pushing to amend the Law of Return to make it comply with halachic law. If that was how the Law of Return read in 1948, many holocaust survivors would have been denied entry into Israel. This and the conversion battles that are going on there remind me a little of apartheid in South Africa. For years the UN said Israel was a racist state but everyone knew that was baloney just to support the Arabs. The problem now is that Israel seems to becoming a state where personal rights are directly proportional to one's purity of blood and degree of observance, the first cousins of de jure racism. I worry that most American Jews who are not orthodox (90%) will not long support such a development unless they close their eyes and repeat to themselves "right or wrong" its our Israel. Many are already doing this.

But all this is too serious. Regards,

From: Yossi
To: *****

You wrote: "If that was how the Law of Return read in 1948, many holocaust survivors would have been denied entry into Israel"
Denied entry, or not have gained citizenship so soon?

From: ******
To: Yossi
This is a valid point you bring up. But it still creates at least two classifications of Jews, instant and delayed with all the negative ramifications that go into being in the latter group and even after waiting a number of years and finally becoming a citizen, the Ministry of Interior will still not classify these people as Jews. This opens a whole new issue with me--the abhorrent practice of tying citizenship to religion/culture/ancestry or in Israel's case to maternal Jewish ancestry whether the applicant is observant or not. This smells theocratic and might have worked in the very distant past but not now after two thousand years of Diaspora. Show me in their writings, letters, commentaries, etc., where in the Hertzl and his contemporaries conceived of Israel as being an orthodox Jewish country open only to those Jews who fit the Halachic definition. There isn't any and, if the Holocaust taught us anything, there shouldn't be any. It is all being made up as Israel goes along by a small group of Haredim given powers far beyond their dreams (by a crazy political system) who can't even agree amongst themselves what a proper conversion/Jew is. Their nonsense is affecting the attitudes of Jews in other countries, especially the USA in a very negative manner. If they keep it up their support from the Diaspora will become ambivalent and maybe even antagonistic and the Arabs will have won. The Israeli government knows this is happening too because they send people here who try to explain what is rationally inexplicable to non orthodox Jews. What is the answer?

I then proceeded to ask about the exact power and makeup the Charedim have in the Israeli parliament....
This is a topic rich in controversy and conversation. It's good I don't have comments enabled, huh?