You Are Not Jewish II

From the May 5 Haaretz:

Asher Maoz writes:

These are painful statements, but they must be said loud and clear: Two peoples live in this land, both Jewish – they and we. They are the ultra-Orthodox, who see themselves as emissaries of God on earth. We are all the rest – secular, traditional and religious. It is not that we have suddenly separated; we never were one people. We tried to delude ourselves that we were. They knew all along that we were not.

What did we not do to preserve unity? We were ready to admit that they personified the true Judaism; we accepted marrying and divorce according to the laws of Moses and Israel based on their version; we accepted – willingly or gritting our teeth – limitations on our lifestyle; we agreed to ignore the status quo agreement that was wrung from us as hush money, so that they would not show up before the United Nations investigative committee and persuade it to prevent the establishment of the Jewish state; we sent our young men and women to defend them, while they spend their time at yeshivas or just wandering the streets; we agreed to support them, since after all they do not have time to work for a living; we even came to terms with their spitting at us, we whose "wagon is empty" while theirs is full.

All these things did us no good. They continued to take the fruits of our goodwill from us, while giving nothing in return. A unilateral treaty was created in which we give and they take.

They sold us the mendacious argument that we must give in to their whims to protect the unity of the people. This is a lie. The family trees are already on record. Have you ever seen an ultra-Orthodox person marry outside their own sub-group? They accept as obvious our willingness to accept limitations that are in opposition to our lifestyle and conscience. In exchange they belittle us, doubt our Judaism, do everything they can to make things hard for us and make Judaism, perhaps the greatest creation on earth, repulsive to us.

And now they have thrust the divorce papers in our faces. In one fell swoop, they have revoked the Judaism of a woman 15 years after she converted. Her children’s Judaism was obviously also revoked. Could it have been someone who converted in a Reform rabbinic court, Heaven forbid? No, she was converted in Rabbi Haim Druckman’s court, the head of the Bnei Akiva Orthodox youth movement and the head of the conversion court system. The Supreme Rabbinic Court was not satisfied until it had cast aspersions on all the conversions carried out by Rabbi Druckman, and declared them "null and void."

With the stroke of a pen the rabbinic court judges removed thousands of converts from the Jewish fold, they and their children, cursing and abusing Rabbi Druckman in the process. They did all this without looking at each case, and in opposition to every principle of halakha (Jewish law).

Rabbi Druckman does not need my defense. His religious observance is no less strict than that of the three religious court judges who slung mud at him, and his Torah learning is no doubt greater than any of theirs. Rabbi Druckman may have one fault: He has the "deficiency" of loving the Jewish people and a sense of responsibility for the Jewish people. I thought that the Torah commanded us to have such characteristics. It turns out that I was wrong, at least according to the three respected rabbinic court judges.

Therefore we have had it up to here with their insults. We are no worse Jews than they are. On the contrary: Good manners come before Torah. Humanness is not the antithesis of Jewishness, but rather stems from it. A person who bans his brother from their father’s funeral just because he stopped observing ultra-Orthodoxy is no better a Jew than his brother, even if the ultra-Orthodox consider him the "father of morality." A person who does not mourn his brother’s death has lost all image of humanity, even if he does so on instruction of the individual known as the greatest posek (ruler on Jewish law) of the generation.

A court that does not allow a woman to receive a divorce, leaving her "chained," an aguna, is hard-hearted. A court that dares revoke the Judaism of converts is acting against halakha. It should also be mentioned that these converts and their children have defended those hiding in the tent of Torah learning; those who dare challenge the converts’ Judaism. Quite a few of them are buried in the military cemeteries throughout Israel after they gave up their lives to protect the people of Israel, including those who insult them after their death.

And who are we to complain? We made this happen. We appointed two rabbinic court judges, while ignoring the outcry of the women’s movements, including Orthodox women’s movements. Only recently we completed the roster of religious court judges, with most of the appointments coming from the ultra-Orthodox.

We were in such a hurry that the justice minister pushed through the appointments even though they did not meet the necessary conditions.

Have we learned? Have we come to our senses?

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
This entry was posted in Conversion, Orthodoxy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.