For the longest time, man has been meddling in the affairs of God, generally, for the benefit of man. Lately, in Israel, ultra-orthodox men appear to be running the show in what was originally God’s show. They know better. Left unchecked, God might strike us all with a thunderbolt and start creation all over, this time without man (and woman). Who needs the headache, He might be asking. This is undoubtedly one of my weirdest opening for a blog post. But bear with me. People of all persuasions, particularly Jews in Israel, think they have God figured out. They know what’s to come in the afterlife and who’s invited, who’s a kosher Jew and who’s suspect. To the best of my knowledge, no one’s come back yet from the other side to tell us what’s in store. I can think of three possible reasons: 1. There’s nothing 2. There is something, but it’s so wicked and so horrible, that no one has been able to climb out of the fiery abyss and report back to us 3. There’s something so good out there, so paradise-like, that whoever’s there, members sipping banana daiquiris and nibbling on Belgian chocolate, choose not to tell us nor include us in their “Club Med.”
Yet ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel, using their unlimited minutes calling plan, seem to have a direct line to God’s ear and God’s will. General elections were held here 4 months ago. The religious parties returned to power with Netanyahu as prime minister. They’re holding him by the jewels. They insist on turning us more Jewish than we already are.
Hundreds of thousands of Israelis whose Jewish conversion is in the process for months, sometime years are told that they’re not “Kosher.” These applicants — children of mixed marriages, those whose ancestral lineage was broken, non-Jews who’d married Jews and wish to establish a home in Israel are told an emphatic No! They live in limbo. Rabbis will not marry them. Couples usually trek to Cyprus, the neighboring island-state, or to Greece, to tie the knot. Their future children will be deemed not Jewish, undeserving and underprivileged. Before the elections, the right-wing parties courted them, invited them into the fold, made promises, and now that they’re in power, they’re regarded as pariah. That’s their lousy fate. They can’t catch a break after death, either. They are not allowed to be buried with Jews although their sons or daughters (non-Jews) serve in the military, although they know Jewish holidays, and they’re as patriotic as the next guy. Where’s the love? Is that what God really wants?
And doesn’t all this talk of righteousness and purity remind us of something?
Israel has only one form of Judaism: Orthodox. But in America and in Europe, Reform and Conservative Judaism is also practiced. This week, David Azoulai, Israel’s minister of religious affairs called the Reform Jews in the U.S. “a disaster to the Nation of Israel” and “sinners.” That’s when the Mazto Balls hit the fan. They’re mad as hell. Reform Jews make up almost 40% of all American Jews. They practice Judaism Light; they drive during Sabbath, men and women sit together in synagogues; they fudge a little on the prayer-book, and they eat Kosher-style. However, they support Israel overwhelmingly, contribute money, lobby, send their kids to Jewish summer camps. Somehow God told Azoulai that these Jews are not good enough, either. Israel has few friends. Attacking its own brothers smacks of stupidity of the highest order.
Take the world’s population, for instance. I did the math. 1 out of 500 is Jewish. Take a good-size theater. Only 1 Jew is sitting, front row, of course. Take a soccer stadium to capacity. Only 60 Jews are at the concessions stand drinking lemonade and eating Hebrew Nationals. The other 29,940 are drinking beer. I’m not saying let’s “Mother Teresa” everyone in the world, but shouldn’t we keep the Jews we already have?
For God’s sake?
Maurice Labi is an Israeli-American who lived in Los Angeles for many years. In 2011 He returned to Northern Israel (Galilee) with his wife and twin teenage daughters. He is of two lands, of two cultures and he blogs about his experiences in Israel, particularly from Galilee where Jews and Arabs dwelled for centuries.
He has also written three novels: “Jupiter’s Stone,” “Into the Night,” and “American Moth” — available at Amazon.com
or at BN.com