All currents of Judaism have beauty, Oded Revivi is right – opinion

Oded Revivi, Mayor of Efrat, wrote last week in The Jerusalem Post that when Orthodox leaders ostracize the Reform and Conservative currents of Judaism, they are in fact committing a sin.

Of course, he did not say it in those words, since he is a politician, after all, as well as a faithful public servant. The wording he used was much smoother. And yet his statement challenges one of the most stubborn and rigid conceptions that have characterized orthodoxy since its inception. For the past 200 years, its leaders have engaged in a war of attrition against reformist and conservative movements.

Revivi is a wise man. He also has a good understanding of all the different nuances of the Jewish world better than most of the people who come from this field.

I suppose you formed your opinions on this subject a long time ago, and yet a decade ago you would not have dared to express such an opinion publicly. His audience was not yet ready to hear that. Today, however, it appears that quite a few public leaders in the Orthodox-Zionist camp, even those deeply rooted in the mainstream, are now viewing this 200-year war with a critical eye.

Rabbi Eliezer Melamed opened the door when he held a public dialogue with Rabbi Delphine Horvilleur, and then when he received Rakefet Ginsberg, executive director of the Masorti Movement in Israel, at his home. This act led many people to come out of the closet.

Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel speaking at a conference. (credit: Boaz Perelstein, courtesy of the Hartman Institute)

In fact, when Cabinet Minister Yoaz Hendel visited the United States last week, it seemed natural to him to attend Friday night services led by Rabbi Rachel Ain at Sutton Place Synagogue, a conservative synagogue in Manhattan, a distinct indication that there is a new normal.

Also, in the past few months, I have received public handshakes and wide smiles from many people who in the past would have made an effort to downplay their connection to me.

This is a welcome trend. It’s still in its infancy, I’m not kidding myself, but the winds of change are certainly remarkable.

I remember a conversation I had a few years ago with a religious politician (an Orthodox rabbi) who held a high-level position. At the time, I was the executive director of the Masorti Movement in Israel, and I had invited him to meet with a delegation of leaders from the Conservative Movement from North America who were visiting Israel.

He agreed, but only on the condition that the meeting not be publicized. “In my opinion, this boycott is nonsense,” he told me. “But I have to think about my political party and the synagogue where I pray. So let’s keep this between us. ”And so I did.

Today, however, I am not sure that I would have agreed to those conditions, and I am not sure that he would have asked for them either.

I am a great believer in dialogue. I don’t believe in installing partitions. But I don’t want to oversimplify the discussion either. Without having conversations we will never get anywhere, but if the essence is only the conversation itself, it is not enough.

More than once when he listened to a conversation with moderate Orthodox leaders who really wanted to carry out a respectful and dignified dialogue with Jews of other currents, he detected a tone of condescension. I felt that the whole purpose of engaging in conversation with us was to get closer to “the right beliefs.”

For them, it was an act of kiruv (helping Jews grow closer to Judaism). As if we were far away, and conversing with us would be bringing us closer to the truth. Forgive me, Oded Revivi, if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that that tone has also infiltrated your article.

Don’t try to get closer, we are already close. None of us know what Judaism will look like 200 years from now, but if you take a look at history, you’ll see that the people who thought they were the authentic and faithful leaders of Judaism weren’t always the ones who stood the test of time.

Theoretically, if I had the power to hit the delete button and erase the perspective (hashkafa in Hebrew) of any stream of Judaism, including perspectives that are furthest from my point of view, I promise you I would never dream of doing so. do such a thing.

In my opinion, the Haredi viewpoint has beauty, as does that of the Reform Movement, secular Judaism, and the entire spectrum of modern orthodoxy. I personally identify with the Conservative-Masorti Movement, but Jewish pluralism as a vision of the world, as a basis, and not just in hindsight, is not an empty slogan. Neither of us is more right than the other. As for me, we are all committed to the continuity of the Jewish people.

So come on Revivi, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and dig deep. Start with Efrat. It exalts the virtues of the miracle of the Jewish people. Talk to other council heads and mayors. Try to make a difference within Likud, your party.

A good number of people in the Knesset and in national institutions think that Likud’s natural alliance is with the Haredim. So, run, Revivi, run. Speak loud and clear. You acted so bravely when it came to the LGBTQ community in your city. Now the time has come to speak about the Jewish people. Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people and there is more than one way to be Jewish. A nation-state cannot escape its people.

The writer is vice president of the World Zionist Organization. Translated by Hannah Hochner.

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