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Saturday, August 03, 2013 

We don't need a chief rabbinate

So argues Yossi Klein Halevi on the need for exploring more avenues of Judaism and how to privatize the system:
The two new chief rabbis, David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef, have promised that they will be the spiritual representatives of all Jewish Israelis. I can’t speak for my fellow Jewish Israelis, but I can unequivocally say to the two honorable rabbis: You don’t represent me. I have no chief rabbi.

Marked in recent years by shameless politicking, financial scandal and religious fundamentalism, the Chief Rabbinate has become a hilul Hashem, a desecration of God’s Name, and of the good name of Judaism and the State of Israel.

Almost immediately after his election as Ashkenazi chief rabbi on Wednesday, Lau delivered his first hilul Hashem, a racial slur reported in the media. The absurdity of xenophobic haredi rabbis representing the modern State of Israel ensures an ongoing clash of values and perceptions between the Israeli majority and its supposed spiritual leaders.

Polls confirm that, for growing numbers of Israelis, including many of us who are traditional Jews, the very institution of chief rabbi has become irrelevant. Worse: A Chief Rabbinate dominated by one stream of Judaism – and the most stringent version of that stream – is an affront to Zionism.

Zionism is the ideology of Jewish peoplehood, the move to reconstitute fragmented communities back into a people. The state created by Zionism must accommodate the varied religious streams and competing cultural values which we have brought home from our various wanderings. And for Israel to remain the spiritual focus of the Jewish people around the world, it needs to reflect Jewish diversity.

The ongoing denial of the right of liberal rabbis to officially preside over matters of personal status sends a devastating message of exclusion to the majority of Diaspora Jews.

This exclusion has practical consequences.

It is intensifying the growing alienation toward Israel among many Diaspora Jews. And that, in turn, poses a security threat to the Jewish state, undermining the motivation of American Jews to defend Israel.
Exactly. It also alienates foreign-based Jews to no end. At the same time, the Haredis dominating the rabbinate clearly don't care how they're offending much of the population with their horrific idea of what a Jew/follower of Judaism should be like.

So, I'd say the chief rabbinate should be closed altogether, which would thus send a message to them for a change.

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