Increase in number of Israeli’s feeling they belong to the Masorti movement

[shashin type=”photo” id=”4605″ size=”medium” columns=”1″ order=”user” position=”right”] Following the unaccepted words of the Minister for Religions, Mr. Azolai, the Knesset Channel had taken a survey in which they asked: “Do you feel you belong to any of streams in Judaism?  45% responded “I don’t belong to any stream”, 35% responded Orthodox, 6% reform and 6% conservative.

Guttmann’s Report from 2011 showed only 3.8% to both the Reform and the Conservative movements, thus the new survey shows escalation.

Why is this so?  Rabbi Haim Navon would suggest it happened because of hatred of the Orthodoxy, and opposition to any form of religious coercion.  I agree that such hatred exists, and that this could be an explanation as to why some people don’t feel any connection to the Orthodoxy, but this does not explain the escalation in numbers of the ones that feel they belong to the other movements, nor the decline in numbers of those who do not feel they belong to any one of the movements, which was 49/6% in 2011.

I think there is another explanation.  The number of Israelis who are looking for Judaism to have some part in their lives is increasing.  They are willing to explore and think about other options.  Some of the reasons are the hard work of different movements and entities that see themselves as part of “Judaism revival”. 

A good example is the Masorti  Movement’s activity .The leaders’ work is concentrated on issues of enlarging the public presence and  branding of the Masorti movement as a meaningful contributor in the conversations about the Jewish identity of the State of Israel. At the same time there are the activities of the different communities, the Rabbis, Noam Youth movement, the very much valued Bar Mitzvah project for the Special needs kids etc. 

The Masorti movement offers Judaism that is not anti Orthodox. It was created in order to maintain a Judaism that is consistent with the norms, values and morality that most of us are committed to at the beginning of the 21st century.  The conservative movement Respects any human being and sees in him/her an image of God.  As such it needs to do everything possible to make everyone feel comfortable in Synagogue and take care of all the aspects incorporated in this commitment.

It is committed to lead people towards a spiritual way of life, in which a person does not let routine take over, but takes time off to observe his activities, to live in awareness, and put question marks on the way he lives, and the society he lives and acts within. 

It needs to be based on equality and include everyone in Hashem’s work, in accordance with Halacha, but also understanding the meaning of discrimination and branding of different social classes for different people.

A relevant traditional Judaism will be based on eternal search of the truth, listening to it and as such, not blocking any systems of reading and learning, and not judging without research to strive for the truth.

An Israeli Judaism occurs in the community, while listening to the needs of everyone, being open to the cry of the poor, respect the old, being disturbed by the status of foreigners among your people and slavery around the entire world. At the same time is active in strengthening the community and sharing mutual responsibility; trying to find response to the very important values of self fostering and the freedom of choice.

This is the kind of Judaism that is in the process of development in Israeli society. This is the Judaism of many, The Masorti movement, which certainly voices another opinion in the face of the dominant political public conversation.

In kfar Vradim we see that when such Judaism is given an equal place it turns into an important and meaningful factor.  Our community is leading half of the Bar Mitzvah ceremonies in the village, certainly all Bat Mitzvah ceremonies, and about 40% of the funerals.

To my best of knowledge, people don’t come to us because of feelings of anti, but because of need for Judaism that is closer to their values, commitment to democracy, equality for all, and between genders.  The participants prefer Torah teaching that is not afraid of questions, and is glad to take place in prayer that is more accessible.    

These are the reasons, the way I see it, for the strengthening of the Traditional (Masorti) Movement, and why I choose, to take the next task in my life, to become the Dean of the conservative school for Rabbis, which is designed to build a leadership that will open and give voice to the Judaism which is appropriate and suitable for Israel. Judaism that can and should be a very strong factor in building the language of values that will lead our country. 

פוסט זה זמין גם ב: Hebrew

Posted in 'Kolenu' Newsletter, From the Rabbi's Desk, Kolenu

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