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