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The Phenomenon of Sinat Chinam

Rabbi Gilad Kariv takes part in prayers on Israel's independence day at Beit Daniel in Tel Aviv in 2018. (Courtesy Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism)

Rabbi Gilad Kariv takes part in prayers on Israel’s independence day at Beit Daniel in Tel Aviv in 2018. (Courtesy Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism)

MK Rabbi Gilad Kariv talked to Rabbis Lazarow, Conyer and Sadoff in Australia on the eve of Tisha B’Av about the meaning of Sinat Chinam or “Baseless Hatred”.

At the same time, Ultra-Orthodox teenagers were invading the egalitarian space of the Kotel, attempting to disrupt and shout down the annual Tisha B’Av service being conducted by the Conservative (Masorti) community. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid labelled their action as “baseless hatred”.

Gilad observed that Sinat Chinam seems to have dominated the social and political discourse in Israeli politics in recent years. It has been part of the Progressive community’s troubling dialogue with its Ultra-Orthodox brothers and sisters, many of whom have attempted to delegitimise our Jewish theology, our way of life and our natural role in Israel.

The phenomenon of Sinat Chinam has also been a dominating factor in the relationship between Israel’s Jewish majority and Arab minority as well as the tense relationship between the two main political blocks in Israel.

One of the main justifications for the formation of the new National Unity government in Israel, in representing the political left and right has been to deal with this troubling phenomenon and find an alternative to the current political discourse.

Gilad was asked about the reality of religious pluralism in Israel today. He commented that Israel is experiencing a complicated reality. One where we can celebrate the growth of Progressive, Reform and Conservative communities, which has provided the opportunity for more dialogue with the modern Orthodox.

This led to a public debate inside modern Orthodoxy as to whether their rabbis should have dialogue with non-Orthodox rabbis. The fact that this debate happened points to some progress being made. Gilad believes that segments of the Modern Orthodox are starting to embrace the idea that, despite the theological disagreements with the Progressive movement, there may be benefit in accepting more than one way for Israelis to celebrate their Jewish identity.

He noted, that as a Labor Reform Rabbi he has been appointed to chair the Constitutional and Law committee of the Knesset representing the government led by a Modern Orthodox politician who belongs to the right side of the political map. This reflects a much more mature attitude to the concept of religious pluralism and Jewish diversity.

He believes the task now lies ahead to see that this growing understanding is translated into concrete political, social and educational achievements. He does accept that the level of incitement by some segments of the Ultra-Orthodox has been heightened and they are identifying the battle against the non-Orthodox stream as their main battle.

Finally Gilad talked about the importance of raising a seriously Jewish and passionate next generation and encouraging our children and grandchildren to spend time in Israel, so they can learn and know Israel and so the Israeli next generation can get to know their brothers and sisters from the diaspora. This is fundamental to a strong Progressive Movement both in the Diaspora and Israel.

ARZA President, Helen Shardey

Helen Shardey OAM
ARZA Australia President
UPJ Vice President

2021-07-21T14:32:53+10:00July 21st, 2021|News|

Future Israeli Prime Minister with Progressive Jewish Values

Yair Lapid, leader of the Yesh Atid (There Is a Future) party, arrives at the Israeli President’s residence in Jerusalem on May 5, 2021. © Oren Ben Hakoon, AFP

I have written about the sigh of relief that I believe has been felt by our Progressive community in relation to the change of government in Israel and the prospect of Israel becoming a more pluralistic tolerant society.

This has now been reinforced for those who were able to tune into the WUPJ Connections conference to hear the alternate Prime Minister of Israel and Israeli Minister for Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid address the conference.

Yair Lapid, leader of the Yesh Atid party, is a seasoned politician with plenty of experience as Minister for Finance who entered the Knesset in 2012. His media and communication skills were honed as a TV presenter, news anchor and author. He is recognised politically in Israel as a leading centrist.

Under the Coalition Agreement with Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party he will assume the Prime Ministership of Israel in two years, rotating with Bennett.

Lapid was born in Tel Aviv and raised there and in London. He has also lived and worked in the television industry in the United States. His family were Hungarian Jews on his father’s side. His great grandmother Hermione Lampel sadly was murdered at Auschwitz.

“Yair Lapid’s Jewish home is a Reform Synagogue in Tel Aviv”. Haaretz March 16 2021

I invite you to watch the attached YouTube video of Yair Lapid’s speech to the WUPJ Conference this year to give you an appreciation of where Lapid may take Israel in the future.

CONNECTIONS 2021 | Keynote: Israel’s Changing Political Landscape • MK Yair Lapid

ARZA President, Helen Shardey

Helen Shardey OAM
ARZA Australia President
UPJ Vice President

2021-07-14T16:32:45+10:00July 14th, 2021|News|

Letter from Anat Hoffman

Anat Hoffman to Helen Shardey (Abridged letter)

Dearest friend Shalom.

Thank you for keeping in touch. Thank you for your thoughtful words and solidarity as expressed in the ARZA Australia website. If we had enthusiastic, energetic colleagues like you all over the Jewish world we would be able to create serious and dramatic change in the Israeli social and religious landscape. Your words matter because encouragement like this carries unadulterated TIKVAH for all of us.

I was moved by your solidarity following the events of the new month of Tammuz. We encountered a zealot mob of ultra-orthodox youngsters who grabbed by force our suitcase which was filled with our prayer books, ran with it to the center of the plaza and went ahead with tearing to shreds 39 prayer books. If this happened anywhere else in the world we in Israel would be the first to call it by its rightful name, a hate crime. But, here in Jerusalem this dramatic event ended without the police detaining or questioning any one of the culprits. It’s outrageous! Unacceptable! We must put an end to the rule of ultra-orthodox zealotry over the holiest site of the Jewish people.

I’m afraid that turning a blind eye when ultra orthdox bullies break the law will lead eventually to bloodshed at the wall. In a place where vicious vandalizing of prayer books is allowed, injury to a human being is also possible.

In this state of affairs, it is crucial that the authorities adhere to strict law and order. The Wall must be governed by the laws of the State of Israel, not by the religious impulses of zealots. The Western Wall is one of the most guarded sites in Israel. Hundreds of policemen as well as dozens of state-paid ushers are present on site to uphold the peace.

So what went wrong? The answer is that we were attacked by religious Jews.

Women of the Wall are determined to make the Wall a safe place for everybody. We intend to meet the new Minister of Public Security. We want to show him videos illustrating the failure and oversight which resulted in the desecration of our prayer books. We hope he will listen and will act immediately and effectively.

Thank you my friend for your support
Yours as ever

Anat Hoffman, CEO of IRAC

Anat Hoffman
Executive Director
Israel Religious Action Centre

2021-06-29T13:03:47+10:00June 29th, 2021|News|
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