Beyond the Cusp

February 17, 2019

Has the Time Come for Women as Rabbis?

 

We understand that the obvious answer is, ‘No,’ and that there really is nothing to debate, but when has that stopped us. There are the numerous arguments put forth by the Open Orthodoxy or New Orthodoxy, Modern Orthodoxy, Neo-Orthodoxy or the more realistic, Reform Judaism with a few additional Commandments. The crux of the problem is, as almost anybody who has read anything about this tempest in a teapot, the ordination of women as Rabbi. The easy answer is to stand with the nearly unanimous decision by virtually every Poskim, the RCA (Rabbinical Council of America) and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and declare from the rooftops while standing next to a scarecrow of a man playing his violin and scream, “Tradition!” But that is taking the short road to an answer which leaves out all the intricacies and ignores the pressures and times of modernity. Women’s rights will need to be addressed at some point, but that point has not yet arrived. Far too many of those in positions to accept this challenge are mired in the rules and morals of early in the past century. Then women took care of the home and the men took care of the world just as the Bible and Torah instruct are the responsibilities of each gender. The world had gone through a period of rocketing change with gender roles being blurred and the responsibilities often being turned on their heads. But Judaism has not survived by being reckless and rushing to accept every change which has come down the halls of time. Tradition has been the watchful eye which kept the boat upright and it is not about to allow for the boat tipping too far left just as it kept it from tipping too far right as the political pendulum has swung back and forth.

 

 

The best approach might be to take small steps and see how they work and if they place too much of a burden or cause things to become difficult or produce side-effects which are arduous, then the small steps can be retraced and a return to normalcy. It is not as if Judaism has not gone through some tumultuous traumas. When we left Egypt we found that the generation which had been in Egypt were not fully capable of change and this resulted in forty-years of wandering almost aimlessly in the dessert until a new generation could be born and reach age. Then, with a fresh population unencumbered with the ravages of slavery and dependence filled with self-confidence was capable of the task of winning a homeland. Then Joshua, one of the two spies who came back with a report of a land ready to be taken, the other was Caleb. The fight was probably far more difficult than it would have been for the Israelites when they first perched on the borders of what is today Israel. But in time the lands were conquered and became the initial state of Israel (see map below). That was how nations were built and how many an empire would start out, taking a small regions for their own and then embarking on greater conquests often incorporating the conquered people initially into their empire as full citizens. This was the name of the game and the Jews started with no king or queen but lived only with the guidance of Judges and Prophets. Prophets continued into their period with Kings which turned sour all too quickly. Then there came the years of conquest by foreign empires with short stints of self-rule. Eventually the Jews, as they had come to be known as most were Judeans by birth, as they were from the Tribe of Judah, were dispersed throughout the Roman Empire, with some even thrown into slavery in further lands, and there appeared to be no way for this small group surviving such treatment. The Jews remained dispersed throughout the world and only in the past century and a half have really begun to return to the ancient homelands reestablishing the nation of Israel. So, yes, we have seen dire times and persecutions and even the Holocaust, a persecution unparalleled in, at the least, modernity. We survived and remained a people through one factor; we remained steadfastly true to our holy books and based it all on Torah. The Torah became our homeland, portable and able to be applied in any region, setting, situation and so forth. This is partly why the leaders of the Jewish Faith, not necessarily the Jewish Nations but the faith, remain resistant to change, without foresight to see what is over the horizon, one remains reluctant to change, especially change that appears to be drastic, that which has guided and kept your people as one through the harrowing threats of history.

 

Twelve Tribes of Israel and the Original Borders for Israel

Twelve Tribes of Israel and the Original Borders for Israel

 

So, perhaps, in the not too distant future, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel might venture into permitting equal seating for men and women in a section of the main hall, not necessarily the entirety. They could permit those synagogues which were inclined to set aside an area where husband and wife, of course with children, to be seated together but leave sufficient space for those opposed to such a liberal concept to sit where this area is not bothersome. Yes, we know some people will find it bothersome that a synagogue in the next town allows such seating and they will claim it unnerves them. Change is not easy, ask the Vatican, as we Jews have been about traditions and the literal applications of the rules for far longer than the Christians have. Perhaps there might be some other half-step we have not considered, but change will need to come in small doses as we Jews are a stiff-necked and stubborn people, or so our Torah tells us. Still, we have changed and kept pace with the world as when we reestablished our homelands, we did not return to a monarchy as it last was nor did we try to rely on prophets and judges as even earlier times, nope, we went with a parliamentary democracy and one far more convoluted than even the European versions. Even the Jews who returned home making Aliyah often comment on how Israel has made a parliamentary system of government even more contentious than their home countries could have imagined. For further proof, simply start to read and follow the machinations and other finagling which are sure to play out along the way to the April 9, 2019 Israeli elections and see for yourself.

 

We have somehow gone from Exodus Chapter fifteen verse twenty and twenty-one where it says, “Miriam, the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel (tambourine) in her hand, and all the women came out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam called out to them, Sing to the Lord, for very exalted is He; a horse and its rider He cast into the sea.” This was then and today there are numerous groups within Judaism where men are forbidden to see women dance or perform or even hear them sing as it became considered immodest. There is proof that we can change, and not always in a more progressive direction despite the uncomforting fact that many times the Jews were at the forefront of revolutionary change. Too often these very same revolutions turned against the Jews and persecuted them claiming they were the enemies of the state they assisted in forming. Such was the case in the Soviet Union and in other cases before that and since. These such outcomes went quite some distance in imprinting caution in the Jews who survived, escaped or were fortunate enough to read of these events from a distance into a dread for change. We have held to our traditions which for centuries slowly drifted to being more and more conservative as this is the result of persecution. The Jewish People are barely a full generation beyond what was a cataclysmic conflagration to our people who lived on the European continent as the Germans and the Russians took their turns persecuting and executing Jews. This did not endear that generation or the following ones to favor radical change, well, except in the United States where much of the radical changes politically and culturally have manifested. They may have found their start in America or in Europe, but if it did not play in America, it likely did not play for very long.

 

Change in Judaism has mostly run at a slow pace making sure that the ground was solid before taking that next step. Wild and reckless are not exactly words which have described the religious Jewish communities. Insular, reactionary, conservative, traditional, stoic, intractable and other similar adjectives have all been used, even by Jews themselves, in defining the Jewish communities, as there are in the United States and Europe as well. Still today in Israel, there are religious communities which all live in a closed community which one need apply and be interviewed, fact-checked, virtually investigated and their religious credentials checked and rechecked before they are permitted to reside within the community. These are some of the communities where the most influential leaders of the Jewish community reside. Asking these individuals to change something so central to Judaism is something which is simply not going to play well. The fact that there are congregations, mostly, if not solely, in the United States and Canada trying to introduce such changes to the Orthodox community, as it has been initially only in Reform and Reconstructionist and later spread to Conservative, is potentially the initial steps. For Jews, though, simply playing well in America is not sufficient for it to become accepted, it must play in Israel. Were the RCA to accept such a change, an alteration in what has been tens of century’s worth of tradition, then perhaps it might be considered by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, though the RCA does not tend to make such moves without working with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. The two operate very much in tandem with much and often deep communication and coordination. This is due to their being the two organizations which preside over the two largest Orthodox communities in the world, one all of Europe does not match. The first sign that there might be a crack in the bricks through which changes will eventually pour through would probably be the permitting, even only on special occasions, for married couples to sit together. Currently, the men sit in one area and the women in a separate area simply because having the women sitting with the men is considered a potential distraction. What some Rabbis might notice is having the wives sit separate from their husbands also provides distraction as they may wish to see how the other is doing or even suddenly realize something which urgently need be communicated, but that is what cell phones are for, right? Kidding aside, the experimentation with women being ordained as Rabbis will very likely have to wait until it starts to make cracks into Israeli society, and that might be closer than we think. No matter the number of Open Orthodox (by whatever name they decide to use this week) Synagogues who have women as assistant Rabbis or Rabbinical interns or outright Rabbis, they will remain shunned, rejected and refused continued sanction by the RCA as they remain lockstep and in sync with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. No matter how many influential American Rabbis join a bandwagon calling for the liberation of Orthodox Judaism, that change will not be leaving the station any time soon. Wait for coed seating to be accepted universally, and then, just maybe there will start to be the inkling of a discussion on going further. First coed seating will need a full period of testing, say about a century or two, then we can talk. Should things go faster than this, it will be a surprise and a sign that the Jews have begun to feel safe and beyond threat in Israel. Currently, we have bigger fish to fry then even coed seating, let alone women as Rabbis.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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August 12, 2018

The Big Question Most Heard

 

That question coming from Sabras (Native Israelis), Russians, Europeans and the other sundry Jews from the world over is, why don’t the American Jews move to Israel or make Aliyah. The answer often given is that they will come in good time. Unfortunately, that is probably the truth and the shame is that for the American Jews this will prove to be unfortunate. This may prove to be the most difficult article to write while not making many people very upset with what we write. Some may want to get upset and scream that this is not me; I want to live in Israel, but with my work and my home and everything, in time it will become easier. That is not really true as we waited until we were retired and it was still difficult choosing what to keep, what to sell and what, despite our attachment, to simply throw out. We were fortunate and sold our entire beer brewing system and bar equipment and limited our stuff needing a moving company to at most one container. Whatever the reason, this is a great time to make Aliyah as the building of apartments and residences have been being built at a fairly rapid pace which had lowered prices. That is as much of the advice we can offer.

 

Akko is the Oldest City in Israel Seen Overlooking Mediterranean Port Wall

Akko is the Oldest City in Israel Seen Overlooking Mediterranean Port Wall

 

How to answer why most American Jews are not making Aliyah and also answering the other main questions is difficult for one to be able to explain while remaining positive. This gets particularly difficult when the added question is to explain the reasoning behind the antics and demands of the Open Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and other branches in American Judaism for accepting new definitions for Halachic Law. Not every Jew is overly observant and even fewer attend all three services each day, but a large share of the population we have met are religious and attend services on some form of regular basis. They attend for yahrzeits, almost every holiday, and try to make Shabbat morning prayers every week. From what we remember, we probably have more people attending our Synagogue daily morning prayers than we often had on Shabbat morning prayers in the Synagogue we last attended in the United States. But very few question the definitions of Halachic Law. The Torah says exactly what it says and cannot be twisted to say otherwise. The Written traditions in Talmud and other commentaries are also quite definitive in their final decisions. On the necessity for adopting a new Oral Tradition to partly replace Talmud is accepted as something of a work in progress, but it is in progress by going through Talmudic principles and adding or questioning ideas and concepts within the structure which already exists. Very few desire throwing the entire system into the trashcan and defining all to fit every whim and societal idiosyncrasy existing today in European or American society. Judaism is supposed to offer alternatives from a tried and true history guided by Torah and our history, not a cult turning on every whim and being redefined to fit some leftist ideology. This has been the case of the demands by Rabbis from the ranks of Open Orthodoxy. We found an article which explains the problem likely better than we ever could in probably one of the most liberal media sources in Israel in Haaretz. Will some of the changes made in America eventually become accepted in Israeli Orthodox, probably. They are already accepted in many of the Conservative and Reform communities in Israel and these do exist but are a lesser offshoot than the more traditional Orthodox, which also have their flavors from Hassidic to Religious Zionist and everything inbetween, but all are governed by the Rabbinate.

 

The truth as most see it from many of the Americans already having made Aliyah is not as pretty as most might prefer. They see things differently than many in the United States see things, and perhaps that comes partly from the fact that being religious in Israel is far more readily attainable than it is in the United States. If one could only afford to reside over ten miles from the Synagogue in their city, they could not be expected to walk to Shabbat Services as at some distances one would need almost a full day to walk both directions. Such would not be resting on the Sabbath. But the problems go deeper than that. Many American Jews have replaced Halachic Law with the standards and positions of their leftist political positions. Such things then become “traditionally Jewish” as same sex marriage, inter-faith marriage, women rabbis, mixed seating for prayer (though this may change over time) and other modernisms. There is another problem in that many Americanized Jews no longer believe that the Torah is historically accurate and that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Queen Esther and the others from Biblical history and most of the Torah and Old Testament are fables to reveal a code of law whose people are imagined and never lived. Come and see the history for real here in Israel where discoveries, especially in the area known to have been the City of David and Cave of Machpelah and these people are very real and the history of Torah and Bible are also found to be accurate and as described. There is a reason why the Waqf has carried away truck loads of crushed rock from their “digging to replace old water pipes and to modernize the facilities” on the Temple Mount always digging in places which are described well in the Bible. Below is a montage of a few of the rubble piles and shown at the lower end are the efforts by the Israeli Antiquities Institute which took up with assisting the efforts when proof of their viability for actually producing artifacts, though dating them has posed a challenge as it is often difficult to discern at what depth and period some artifacts represent. Many Israelis offer their time to assist with this painstaking labors of love and dedication to preserving whatever historical remains can be found. These siftings have produced a small collection of the pomegranate-shaped bells that the Levites and Kohanim wore on their priestly robes (pictured below montage). Unfortunately, there have been far less large objects for after finding an intact column block the Waqf began their crushing of all larger stones to assure nothing of consequence might be found.

 

Temple Mount Destructive Arab Waqf Excavation Dumping Site and Reclamation Sifting Inspecting Seeking Remains of Artifacts not Completely Destroyed as Intended

Temple Mount Destructive Arab Waqf
Excavation Dumping Site and Reclamation
Sifting Inspecting Seeking Remains of Artifacts
not Completely Destroyed as Intended

 

 

Collection of Pomegranate Shaped Bells from Biblical Priestly Robes

Collection of Pomegranate Shaped Bells from Biblical Priestly Robes

 

The story of why American Jews are not arriving in Israel with the urgency some European Jews have shown is simple, they are not being targeted as Jews as of yet. The American Jews are not going to be that far different from other populations. The Ethiopian Jews were brought here after they became persecuted and required saving. The Arab countries expelled their Jews who were refused entrance in most nations other than Israel, so theirs was a case of limited options. The first mass Aliyah of European Jews is well remembered as they had been brutally persecuted and slaughtered across Europe. The Russian Jews were escaping Communism and persecution. The Jews in America live lives which are mostly free of any anti-Semitism and only hear of such in the news and they realize how insulated and safe their lives are. They live an almost fairytale existence lacking want or acceptance. They are not the Jews of Babylon, of ancient Egypt building their cities, of ancient Greece where circumcision was punished by death and teaching Torah treated the same, of the Roman Empire where they were dispersed throughout the Empire and some past the Empires borders in order to make them as extinct as the Carthaginians became, or even of Persia where they loved in relative peace until they were targeted by Hamas and their salvation was the Queen, Esther, whose uncle Mordechai gave her the task of intervening with the king to save her people, or the Jews of any other period as none until the United States the Jews have felt persecution, and even the United States is not perfect as General Grant’s General Order No. 11 of 1862 which displaced the Jews in Tennessee, Kentucky and Mississippi before President Lincoln could countermand the order and return to General Grant with a turnaround of almost two months. But history is not a guarantee of the future as the Jews in Germany found out when they went from assimilated to hunted in a matter of under a decade. The other thing that history teaches is that no society is immune from drastic change when the wrong people take power.

 

The American Jews are largely in two communities, the very Orthodox and the varied but mostly assimilated. The main communities of the very Orthodox are found around New York City and a few other major cities and are largely closed communities who look out for one another and can be considered to be insular. The assimilated also seem to live largely in the suburbs or in high-end areas in some cities in communities such as Georgetown within Washington D.C. The assimilated have jobs in virtually every form of employment with the majority in professions which require advanced degrees. They also hold high positions within the government and political office. They are represented at far higher percentage then their percentage of the population in such professions as physicians, lawyers, engineering and college professors. This has made some fringe groups incited over this fact claiming that the Jews are attempting to control the society through these positions. Most of these people are largely ignored and make up an infinitesimal percentage of the population. The real challenge to the Jews in the United States comes from another direction, and they are largely blind to this coming threat.

 

This threat comes from the secular far left who see religion of any kind as threatening and rather than be agnostic or atheist they are secular humanist who believe that their natural and superior enlightenment means that they should dictate future politics and manage all legal and social regulations. Their real threat is that they have risen to numerous controlling positions in many, if not a majority, of the departments of the government. These are the people who control the machinations of the “Deep State” and thus influence regulations. These are the people who in the too near future will be producing legal systems which will make religious observance regulated to such a point that much of Torah and the Bible will have become legally prosecutable. Reading from numerous Bible passages would be considered to be a violation as hate speech. Some similar prosecutions have occurred in Canada as preaching the Bible has run up against legal regulations there. With the Constitutional guarantees, specifically the Bill of Rights, coming under attack from numerous NGOs and other organizations and political lobbying groups, who knows how long the religious protections in the First Amendment will survive. The Second Amendment is under extreme distress and the Tenth Amendment is all but dead as are much of the Eighth and Ninth Amendments. Once the Second Amendment falls, expect the First and then Fifth followed by the Fourth to follow within a decade.

 

What is coming in the near future in the United States will be considered shocking to the older generations but the youth have been indoctrinated to such an extent instead of instructed such that they no longer believe free speech cannot be abridged and any speech which is offensive to their peer groups should be illegal. They find that the entire Constitution and Bill of Rights to be too old to have meaning in our modern society and that the rules need to be changed to reflect their programming they received from their teachers and then their professors and believe that taxes must be raised and equaling income is a necessity. They also do not accept the concept of a Supreme Being and many believe that religion is a concept which is evil and the Bible is just some old book which is basically worthless. What is frightening is that many American Jews appear to believe the same things as the youth as they have joined the leftists and are members of the Secular Humanists. They have a completely new form of Judaism and demand that the Israelis adopt their interpretation of Torah. The difference between Israel with the acceptance of the Torah, Bible, Gomorra and Talmud as real and applicable as written and that the final two can be adapted, but only in reference to Torah and slowly and methodically while the American Jews (non-Traditional Orthodox) have adapted Torah to fit their beliefs completely throwing out the old commentaries as irrelevant to their modern society and in their stead placing the preachings of their new wave Rabbis whose ideas are more suitable to teaching a college philosophy class than to Torah commentary.

 

The immediate reply will most likely be that we have no idea about what we are speaking. Allow us to speak of the Rosh HaShana sermon given by our Rabbi of a Conservative Synagogue, a loveable and kind Rabbi who was a good person and likely his sermon was adapted in order to please the congregants, especially those who only come to the synagogue three or four times per year but also make very large and generous donations to make up for their lack of making it to Shabbat morning services. His sermon was about a same sex marriage he had recently officiated at our Synagogue and how beautiful the service and the loving couple were and the greatness that we, as a congregation, allowed such a celebration to be held and how our acceptance was indicative of our religious faith. This wedding was a great stride in healing the world from old prejudices and the making of a rich, new world filled of acceptances of all varieties of people and making inroads into wedding our faith with the other faiths proven by the inter-faith marriage he officiated at a church with the minister and the wonderful loving couple and how their children would be so rich having both religious beliefs. The sermon went on for close to thirty to forty-five minutes, maybe more; one of us kept nodding off for some wishful bliss. We have found out that our Synagogue was far from an exception of the new definition of Judaism and stretching of Torah to include the leftist ideologies where all forms of coupling are accepted and where sin has become a relative term with no absolutes beyond unacceptance of this new secular humanist theology. Yes, secular humanism is a religion complete with a dogma and its own sins, many of which are political in nature and any of the keeping of the old ways is one of the greatest of sins and now all religions must adopt the secular humanist diktats.

 

This difference has become a serious problem between Israeli Jews and American Jews. Now there are quite a few Israeli Jews who believe in the secular humanist philosophy and probably would not be too deterred should Israel become more akin to American Jewish thought, the non-Orthodox variety. But in Israel, they accept that the majority are religious and orthodox following Torah. The Rabbinate is a fact which in Israel the only change some wish to make is for there to be only one Chief Rabbi, not two. The big change coming in Israel, which will take far longer probably, not allowing us alive today to witness without assistance from Hashem, will be the unifying of the several sects into a single Judaism. There will inevitably come a merging of the Chabad, Hasidic, Sephardi, Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, Ethiopian, Bnei Menashe, Sabras and numerous smaller sects and there will be a single Judaism finally in Israel, that is our most immediate task. Much of this will take place simply by the most natural means, intermarriage. Whenever we see a mixed couple of Jews, we get a smile and feel that day approaching just that little bit faster. As far as Israel adopting the Secular Humanist views, that is highly unlikely and there are other differences which live in the political arena.

 

The political difference is also fairly stark. The assimilated, secular humanist, non-Orthodox, American Jews are sold on the idea of the Two State Solution because it has that fairness and equality theme they believe the world naturally uses to resolve differences, in their world that is. Even many of the most liberal Jews have surrendered the idea of the Two State Solution as impossible and as having been destroyed by Mahmoud Abbas. The American Jews looked at the recent Gaza border riots as a peaceful demonstration against the Israeli occupation and embargo and there were a small few who hijacked parts of the demonstration using violence and that it is time for Israel to loosen their embargo and end the occupation of Gaza. Israelis know that Israel finished their disengagement from Gaza that was enacted back in August 2005. Israelis also realize that any loosening of the embargo which is established simply to prevent Hamas and Islamic Jihad importing heavy weaponry is not workable and that the vast majority of goods are allowed in, especially aid goods, mostly passed on for Hamas to distribute the same day or the next day. Israelis know that Hamas uses the vast majority of these goods to raise funds charging the Gazans for the aid while keeping any building materials for the construction of underground bunkers for Hamas and Islamic Jihad members to be secured within along with interconnecting tunnels or to build infiltration tunnels into Israel in order to carry out attacks or to attempt kidnapping of Israelis. Many American Jews believe that Israel has no option and that the original idea was to make both an Arab and a Jewish state west of the Jordan River.

 

Israelis know that was simply one idea suggested by the United Nations General Assembly in Resolution 181 which was negated as soon as the Arab League voted to reject that idea as they refused to permit any Jewish State. The reality instead returned to the San Remo Conference and the related British Mandate agreements. These all made for an Arab State today known as Jordan and everything west of the Jordan River was reserved for the Jewish State. Israeli Jews realize that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian Authority all agree that their goal is for no Jewish State to exist. They disagree on who gets to rule and Hamas also declares that they are to destroy Israel and then continue to kill Jews everywhere while they conquer the world for them to rule. Israeli Jews realize that the recent Gaza rioting had as its intent exactly what Sinwar, Hamas leader, stated, to break down the border fence, murder Jews tearing out their hearts and eating their livers as we have already reported repeatedly, and to replace Israel with a state ruled by Hamas. Had they succeeded, then it would have been not only the end of Israel, but the end of the Palestinian Authority as they would be the next target, as Hamas believes them to be apostates deserving of death. The world might have mourned the dead six and a half million Jews, but we would not expect many would honestly care and the few who did would mourn quietly after the initial solemn announcements which would end as quickly as possible as it would be a bother.

 

We could continue to list the ways Israeli Jews, in general, are different and separate from American Jews, in general. There is no reason to continue, as there are numerous articles written on the subject for those interested. Many are written from the American point of view but there are those from the Israeli view with many simply responses to those other articles. The two groups have taken very different paths and it will take something traumatic for them to forge a single people. As the two societies are, there can be no immediate merging of the American Jews with the Israeli Jews. We know this, as we were not an acceptable fit in our last congregation but once here in Israel found our fit was transformational, as finally we had found a Jewish group of communities where we fit in naturally. There were some in that last congregation with whom we fit and some requested we keep such our secret as they had hid their conservative beliefs and reached general acceptance and they did not desire their work to be undone. As we have told before, many in that Synagogue responded to our announcement of moving to Israel with almost the same words which were, “Why would you want to move to a place like that, they are so backwards.” Well, I guess we like backwards, though we believe that Torah and the Bible are eternal and the proper guide for life, and certain realities which measure the health of a society are proving this to be a valid statement.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

March 28, 2018

The Threat Israel Cannot Defeat Alone

 

If Israel has a mortal weakness, it is that she cares too much for the protection of innocents even if those innocents are trying to destroy her. That is the most serious threat she currently refuses to face and which will do everything to destroy Israel if only to prove they are correct. The current cases are the numerous NGO’s and the Left wing American Jews who support these insidious organizations working to destroy Israel. The leftists within Israel are also contributing to this situation and the potential of ending the Jewish homelands. Part of the attack comes at the religious in Israel who are also the main answer to allowing Israel to defeat the demographic threats. One of the demands made by many on the left is that Israel must forsake Traditional Orthodox Judaism and instead become a purely secular democracy which favors no religion and allows that all peoples of all religions, and particularly no religion, to live within in harmony. The proof Israel can provide for accepting these demands are to first accept the Two State Solution giving over to the Palestinians all the lands beyond the Green Line and secondly permit those Palestinians in refugee camps permission to return to their homes even if those homes are theoretically within the Green Line and would lead to the Jews being outnumbered by Arab Muslims. When Israelis claim that would be the end of Israel, they are told that this is an unfair accusation as how can Israelis claim that this Arab population cannot also operate within a multicultural democracy if they have not given them any opportunity to do so? They do not accept Gaza as having been a fair example and demand Israel again make the sacrifices and accept their promises that the Arabs will work with the Jews in harmony. When asked what happens if this proves to not be the case, their response is that the Jews can come to the United States or they simply reprimand such as naysayers who have no faith in the powers of Democracy. This is especially true of those on the farthest leftist Jews, even more so those residing in the United States.

 

There are many things which separate the American leftist Jews and their brethren in Israel and much of that have led to numerous misunderstandings. The leftist Jews believe that because Israeli mainstream Judaism is a collection of different Traditional Orthodox forms of Judaism including many Haredi and Hasidic branches, Chabad, numerous Traditional Orthodox congregations and, this may shake any number of American Jews so we advise you be seated, numerous Conservative, Reform and other nonconventional congregations of Jews as well as a fair number of purely secular people of Jewish extraction. The main Rabbinate is selected from the majority and several forms of Orthodox Judaism. There is a reason behind having the Orthodoxy as the prevalent form of Judaism in Israel, and that is because it follows the traditional laws and all the Commandments of Torah, the exact ideas and ideals that even the socialist Zionist founders foresaw as the true future for the State of Israel mixed with Socialism. Israel, politically, still has too much socialism practiced by the government but that is slowly evolving to a more functioning entrepreneurial nation based on the start-up concept allowing for investments to spur the movement of capital and thus leading to a stronger economy and providing higher wages in the future. But the religious base will remain Traditional Orthodox while permitting every other form but retaining the controlling religious administration with the Traditional Orthodox. This is why all marriages and conversions are required to meet the strict Rabbinate restrictions. These religious restrictions are actually sensible in many ways which become more readily obvious once you come and actually live in Israel.

 

First off, a confession, at least one of us is a long time Zionist but spent much of their life completely divorced of any practicing of Judaism. Even when returning to Judaism after a tragedy in the family, still attempted first to join a Reform Synagogue but there were personality differences with the Rabbi so we tried the other Synagogue which was Conservative and that Rabbi was wonderful. What was curious was that the Conservative was very similar services wise to the Reform services remembered from childhood. If questions had been thrown at us back in the United States, we would have been just as confounded by the insistence on only the Orthodoxy having the main levers of power within Israel and been somewhat upset about many of these demands. So, the question is what do we now feel?

 

Star of David Ornate

 

Since moving to our little corner in Israel we have found how much easier it is to be completely Jewish in Israel. Keeping Kosher is as easy as shopping at the food store and only a couple in town needs to be avoided. Many of the restaurants are certified Kosher. Services are easier to attend as there is almost a guarantee that you will discover one within four or five blocks, if not several. With this all taken care of, being Orthodox, Traditional Orthodox, becomes fairly simple requiring even less effort than being any kind of semi-observant Jews in the United States. Given another few generations and while Traditional and other forms of Orthodox Judaism will be prevalent in Israel, other than Orthodox Judaism, mostly Hasidic and Haredi, one will be hard pressed to find other congregations in the vast majority of the United States and all but gone from Europe. This will be due to the rampant intermarriage which will quicken the exodus of Jews from their religious upbringing, assuming they ever received a Jewish upbringing. One quick way of determining the accuracy of our dire prediction would be to simply ask the few Jews you may know who are not Orthodox whether they attended and partook of a Passover Seder and whether it was held in English or Hebrew. Do not be surprised if the answer shows a lack of Jewish participation. Then ask them what does Seder mean and pray they do not say dinner or story or other wrong answer. When they surrender, the actual translation of the Hebrew word Seder is Order, as in structured or delineated. The main defining part of the service is the reliving of the leading events to the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt and the initial part of the years in the wilderness.

 

Becoming a practicing Jew and following as much of the laws as possible, as we are still learning some of the rules as we go along, and some are likely obscure and will become obvious with time. One thing about Judaism is that everyone and everything is a work in progress, and some are going to take more time than others.

 

Finally, it is with sadness that we realize that once again so many of our brothers and sisters will become lost to us just as during the Exodus when it was claimed that a mere one-fourth, if that many, of the Jews from Egypt made the trip while the majority decided that they preferred remaining in relative safety and a life, though harsh, still did not require what the new life promised, challenges and the hard work of building a new land. Slavery was a hard life but the Egyptians provided for their food, shelter and other necessary needs. That is what life in the United States will promise, a land of plenty that is easy and there are very few threats in life while Israel is more of a challenge. Getting a job is more of a difficulty in Israel and as an American one need learn Hebrew, not the easiest language to learn. For the youth, there is IDF service which most American Jews would find as a threatening requirement. One of us did serve in the United States military in combat arms but very few of the Jewish kids we grew up with ever gave such the smallest consideration. Serve in the military, that was outside consideration and why so many Jews went to college. Yes, when drafted, they served and what is actually surprising is that Jews have almost always outperformed other peoples in their service in the military in the major wars in history. But the latest generation, such is not considered something a good Jewish boy or girl would want to do. So, having to move to Israel and face military service frightens many. Thankfully, and these youths are treasured and respected in Israel, there are Jewish kids from America who come to Israel with the intent of serving in the IDF and most desire to be placed into Combat Arms. These Zionist youths are a treasure.

 

Back to how to allow Israel to defeat their foes is easy. Step one; stop demanding that Israel surrender, conflicts are not won by the surrendering side. Israel must be permitted to be victorious and defeat every challenge and danger facing her and her people. Stop pretending that Israel need be more like the United States as Israel does not have Canada and Mexico as neighbors. Illegal immigrants in Israel are more likely to be terrorists aiming to murder Israelis than people seeking to make a better life and almost none are actual refugees. Step two; when Israel is forced to defend herself, kindly support her just as she supports the United States efforts in such conflicts. Finally, try to remember and understand that in Israel Judaism is not so much a religion as a way of life and Israel is the Jewish homelands where the religion, the people and society try to operate as one. Israel is also the only place where the Jewish people will be protected and cared for without question should any disaster or threat raise its ugly head threatening our fellow Jews. Israel is the Jewish safety fuse which will trip and give the Jewish People a home forever into the future. That should be sufficient reason for any Jew to do anything required to protect their safety valve. Lastly, whether they realize it or not, Israel is the homeland of the Jews and has been the Promised Land from over three-thousand years back and that only gets us back to King David, Abraham and Sarah were close to another thousand years further back. That is something which will never change.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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