Conservative Jews furious with Israeli president over scrapped bar mitzvah service

Print More
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin smiles during a photo opportunity with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (not seen) in the Manhattan borough of New York on January 26, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Carlo Allegri  
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-CONSERVATIVE-ISRAEL, originally transmitted on June 8, 2015.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin smiles during a photo opportunity with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (not seen) in the Manhattan borough of New York on January 26, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Carlo Allegri *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-CONSERVATIVE-ISRAEL, originally transmitted on June 8, 2015.

Active RNS subscribers and members can view this content by logging-in here.

(RNS) Conservative Jews, called Masorti Jews in Israel, say President Reuven Rivlin's decision amounts to a de-legitimization of non-Orthodox Jewry.

  • Jack

    After the obligatory huffing and puffing and stomping of feet and throwing of weight around has concluded, this will doubtlessly get resolved. Accusing the Israeli president of “loathing” their practice is silly, but it’s part of the “we-matter” dance that Israel has to deal with in its relation to American counterparts.

    This, too, shall pass. Each side knows its role in the dance, and they’ll work it out.

  • Larry

    It was a jerk move by the Israeli President but very typical of how overly entangled the current government there is with the ultra-orthodox.

  • Jack

    Most Israeli governments have had to deal with the ultra-Orthodox because of the peculiar arrangement made with them at the time of Israel’s founding and because of the kingmaker role they’ve often played. Some day, alternative forms of Judaism will be appropriately recognized in Israel, but for now, they still have the power in religious matters.

  • Larry

    Sort of. The current government works with them because the pro-military hawks are losing their hold. In order to keep up a coalition government, they require the support of the ultra-orthodox. This gives the ultra-orthodox the ability to politically punch above their weight class.

    Their opposition is relying mostly on growing popularity of Israeli Arab parties and minority groups. Groups which has zero interest in entangling their politics with Jewish sectarian squabbling.

    Jack, you are completely mischaracterizing this incident. Its not a matter of recognition as it is a matter of public relations, courtesy and basic decency. The conservative Jewish group was working with the government in a similar fashion for twenty years. The snub is a recent development. This is sectarian sniping in a very ugly and rude fashion.

  • Jack

    I tend to believe that in most things, the more things change, the more they stay the same. So in this particular instance, there was a misstep by someone in this ongoing dance between Israeli and American Jews on how to handle the ultra-Orthodox in Israel. It is not the end of the world. It will be worked out….

    Memo to drafter of letter to prez of Israel,

    Somehow I doubt he has “loathing” for you. It’s just the usual rough-and-tumble of a country that’s both a secular democracy and a society in which the Orthodox have disproportionate power due to arrangements dating back to ’48.

    No biggie. It will be worked out.

  • Garson Abuita

    The irony in all this is that the power given to the ultra-Orthodox at the founding of the State to be in charge of religious affairs was given by Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, who was an atheist. In return the ultra-Orthodox were to support the political existence of the State, which they otherwise might not have in light of the Messiah not yet having arrived. My sense is that Ben-Gurion was certain that the left-wing political parties would be strong enough not to have to deal with the ultra-Orthodox so much, but various factors, like birth rates, the protractedness of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the settlements, made that turn out differently.

  • Pingback: Conservative Jews furious with Israeli president over scrapped bar mitzvah service - Air Graffiti Philly()

  • Jack

    And a further irony, Garson, is that today, the strongest supporters of Zionism are among the Orthodox, despite their long-standing theological view that there should be no Jewish state until the Messiah shows up. Granted, the ultra-Orthodox still are officially wary, but while among the descendants of the original, secular Zionist halutzim who founded the state, post-Zionism is on the rise, mainstream and modern Orthodoxy is the strongest bastion of pro-Israel support today.

    The ultimate irony is that there is absolutely nothing in the Bible that ever prevented Jews from setting up a Jewish state before the Messiah comes. The entire prohibition is based more on millennia-old rabbinic fears of Jewish fervor for the Land leading to disastrously quixotic attempts to set up a state than on any biblical bans, of which, again, there are none. The fears are quite understandable, but to make up a ban out of whole cloth was a mistake.

  • Jack

    Yes, and ironies abound here. One of them is that, while once the entire world of Orthodoxy stood against Zionism for the reason you gave — that the Bible prohibits a Jewish state before the Messiah arrives to rule and reign — today the strongest supporters of Zionism are mainstream or modern Orthodox groups. Meanwhile, among the descendants of the secularists who were Zionism’s founding fathers, support for Zionism is faltering and some are calling themselves post-Zionists. They are having trouble reconciling their universalism with the particularism of Zionism (or any other nationalism).

    The final irony is that, in fact, there’s nothing in the Bible that ever banned a Jewish state forming before the Messiah’s reign. In fact, the order is reversed. The Hebrew Bible says that first, the Jews will return from exile and become politically sovereign and later on, the Messiah comes to rule and reign after defeating Israel’s foes in a final battle.

  • Jack

    Ironies abound. Today, the strongest support for the Jewish state comes from the Orthodox — granted, not the ultra-Orthodox, but from the mainstream or modern Orthodox. It used to be that all of Orthodoxy opposed a Jewish state before the Messiah came to rule and reign.

    The ultimate irony is that nothing in the Bible prohibits a Jewish state from being formed prior to the Messiah’s reign. In fact, the Hebrew prophets reverse the order…..First, the Jews come back after a lengthy exile….and later on, the Messiah arrives to rule and reign following his final defeat of Israel’s foes who attack her.

  • Jack

    Looks like this web site had a posting glitch or two….Two posts which seemingly vaporized, then a third post which posted and was an attempt to summarize..then the other two got posted. Result — three posts with lots of unintended overlap and repetition.

  • Larry

    The return from exile part is from your Bible, not theirs. Do I have to remind you about how inappropriate it is to reference the New Testament when discussing Jewish beliefs. The final battle thing is pure Christian belief.

  • Jack

    Sorry, Larry, but frankly, you don’t know what you’re talking about on this one. All of the prophecies about the Jewish people returning to their Land are in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). The New Testament merely agrees with what had already been written in it.

    Totally apart from Christianity or the New Testament, it has been a basic belief of Judaism through the ages that the Hebrew prophets were right and that one day, the fulfillment of their prophecies would happen with a return from exile.

  • Faith in Yeshua/Jesus unites us. Men create lines of division while God, through His Son and His Holy Spirit, bring us together. People from different religious and ethnic backgrounds come together in His name. When God commanded man to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, and men went against His will and began to build the tower of Babel, God confused the languages and dispersed the people over the earth. Later when God wanted salvation in Jesus’ name preached to the whole world He did just the opposite of Babel. In Acts 2 it records the work of the Holy Spirit in speaking His message to the people gathered in Jerusalem who spoke many different languages, hearing the apostles speak it in their own tongues, the message of salvation in Yeshua. God’s power is unlimited. He is awesome. It is that same power that is at work today in bringing both Jews and Gentiles to salvation through faith in Israel’s Messiah, Jesus Christ/Yeshua HaMashiach. Shalom

  • Jack

    Well, brother Mark, it’s hard to keep up with the nomenclature….Some people call themselves Christians, others “believers,” still others “born-again believers” and all the rest.

    And then there’s a newly-recovered understanding that the God of the New Testament, like the God of the Old Testament, speaks to the world’s people not as “the nations,” but as “Israel and the nations.” And that has some potentially revolutionary implications for both the church on the one hand and the Jewish people on the other.

    We are certainly living in interesting times….where man-made walls that separated people and peoples are coming down. I suspect that when the dust has settled, neither Christianity nor Judaism will quite be the same. There will always be a Gospel, there will always be a Jewish people, and there will always be a Judaism, but some of the old distinctions that never made much sense to begin with will be swept away.