Is a Separation of Religion and State Good for the (Orthodox) Jews?

The recent dust-up between Tzohar and the Rabbinate has increased the number of RZ Rabbis who want to see the Israeli Rabbinate dismantled. I believe that the discussion of separating Church and State in Israel has concentrated for far too long either on the question of separation as a whole and far too little on the details and consequences of Separation.

To encourage such discussion, I would like to address each issue of religion and state separately. Rather than talk about chucking everything or keeping everything, I believe a case-by-case discussion would more fruitful.

The purpose of this series will be to examine the question of maintaining or dismantling specific public religious services or subsidies from the POV of Orthodox Jewry, both RZ and Charedi.

The subjects covered will be as follows:

1. Chief Rabbis: State, City and Township. Better public or private?

2. Batei Din: Appointments of dayanim and their authority.

3. Marriage (Including internal intermarriage).

4. Divorce: The question of mamzerut.

5. Religious Building Maintenance: Mikvaot and the like.

6. Burial Rites and Graveyards.

7. Religious Education: The Elephant in the Room.

8. Conversion: Is there any point?

9. Kashrut. Nuff said.

Any and all comments and suggestions are welcome in the comments below.


Hi, my name is Avi Woolf. I'm an American-Israeli MO Jew living in Israel. I have a background in Israeli (as in Land of Israel) and Jewish History and an insatiable need for knowledge. I also have professional experience as an editor, translator and indexer. Enjoy the ride! If you are interested in using my services or just want to drop me a line, contact me at:
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4 Responses to Is a Separation of Religion and State Good for the (Orthodox) Jews?

  1. Moshe says:

    On, there has been a lot written on this topic. Perhaps you can include some of his well articulated points.

  2. AIWAC says:

    I don’t want to go over trodden ground. Ben Chorin’s excellent series was more in the theoretical/philosophical territory. I’ll be dealing more with nitty-gritty details.

  3. fred says:

    i think a good deal of religiosity in israel is due to the mandated religion in the state [anti-religious sentiment notwithstanding].
    an important question here is: democratically there may be a majority or strong number of jews who want a rabbinate, or religion governing life-cycle events. so democratically this should be available to the people.

    i think a rabbinate is far more important to the secular/traditional than the religious.

    an example which relates to both my points is that most israelis keep some level of kosher but do not have the ability or interest in monitoring it. so you kind of need a state religious organization…

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