Thursday, 13 December 2012

Leading Zionist Orthodox Rabbi Calls For Recognition Of Non-Orthodox Judaism

A leading Zionist Orthodox rabbi, Yuval Cherlow, has called on his colleagues to “re-examine” halakha so that Orthodox Jewish communities in the Diaspora will be able to attract non-Orthodox Jews in larger numbers and retain them. He also urged the State of Israel to recognize non-Orthodox streams of Judaism, including their conversions.

A leading Zionist Orthodox rabbi, Yuval Cherlow, has called on his colleagues to “re-examine” halakha so that Orthodox Jewish communities in the Diaspora will be able to attract non-Orthodox Jews in larger numbers and retain them. He also urged the State of Israel to recognize non-Orthodox streams of Judaism, including their conversions.

Cherlow is the head of the Petah Tikva hesder yeshiva, one of the heads of the liberal Zionist Orthodox Tzohar organization of rabbis, and a member of the board of the Modern Orthodox-Zionist Orthodox Takana forum on rabbinic sexual misconduct.

On his return from a visit to the United States, Cherlow wrote his students, telling them that because the fate of American Jewry is not on the Israeli agenda it “is confronting us with a harsh reality in which we are committing suicide, endangering the existence of the state of Israel and moving away from our fundamental role in the world, ‘And all the families of the earth are blessed with you.’,” Ha’aretz reported.

According to Cherlow, the Torah and the state of Israel are losing their historical roles in shaping the identities of Jews in the diaspora.

“[Israel is] something [American Jews] don’t want to identify with, because of the occupation, the racism, the control of another people by force…A second reason is the fact that they are not wanted here: The religious movements to which they belong are not recognized and also those who are not affiliated with any stream of Judaism do not want to identify with a state where the Orthodox have a monopoly; their conversions are not recognized, nor are their prayers (Women of the Wall) and so on.”

Assimilation is rife in America and Cherlow believes the situation is an emergency and should be treated as such under halakha, Jewish law, which allows the setting aside of various laws in an emergency. This is the first time in his career, Cherlow wrote, that he has advocated this.

Examples he gave reportedly included “driving to a Conservative synagogue on the Sabbath; considerations in conversion; things done by Reb Shlomo Carlebach of blessed memory; bringing Reform Jews into a prayer quorum and in general cooperation with various streams and so on.”

Cherlow also wants to have separation of Orthodox rabbinical law and the policy of the state of Israel.

He wants the state tp recognize the non-Orthodox streams – including their conversions – and including funding for them in proportion to their size. He also wants a free market for religious services like marriage and divorce, with competition among the streams.

“[We should be] conducting the struggle against [the non-Orthodox] in a free market atmosphere; and increasing separation between religion and politics from within our inner belief that the truth will prevail and does not need the power of the state in order to determine individuals’ status and the like.”

In response, Tzohar reportedly distanced itself from Cherlow's remarks, saying that it "opposes any official recognition of Reform Judaism by the State of Israel, in terms of conversions or its general way…it should be noted that the topic was addressed in an internal discussion in the Yeshiva, and does not necessarily reflect Cherlow's views or interpretation of halakha.”

In the past, Cherlow distanced himself from the non-Orthodox streams and avoided attending events at which he would have to sit next to Reform and Conservative speakers.

http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2012/12/leading-zionist-orthodox-rabbi-calls-for-recognition-of-non-orthodox-judaism-456.html

No comments: