“I refuse to join a club that would have me as a member” (Groucho Marx)
Allow me to introduce myself. I am an American-Israeli mostly observant Jew. I retain Republican ideologies amongst which one can find my belief that government is not part of the solution but rather part of the problem. I believe that a free market is one that enables the equal opportunity option to everyone who is willing to do the work, and that some must work more than other, and YES that’s ok. On the other hand I promote civil marriage in Israel, I fail to understand why anybody except for homo-sexuals cares whether they can marry legally. (Yes I have other opinions but they are not the point).
I recently came upon a video posted on a friend’s Facebook wall denoting the agendas and ideas of the conservative movement in Israel. The video as you can see HERE, paints the picture of a Utopia in which everyone can choose their religious denomination based on the way one feels. It goes on to claim that one may pursue acts such as Marriage (and Prayer though not mentioned in the film) in one’s own way and have them sanctioned by the Religious rite of Judaism. For those who do not know, in Israel a Jew is not allowed to get married outside of the Orthodox Rabbanut, and one is denied this if one is not “Halakhically” Jewish. The meaning of such a definition is that your mother is Jewish; her mother is Jewish and so on. However, in order to become a citizen of the state of Israel you merely need to have on Jewish Grandparent.
Let me make myself clear, as I stated before I believe that a great wrong is being done in this country that does not allow equal rights, such as marriage, to people of all religious denominations. I further believe that the conservative movement has every right to conduct their beliefs in a manner that they see fit.
I would like to discuss a completely different matter that arises from this video. In it the cry is always for the redefinition of the word Jew to be all inclusive of anyone who wishes to take part. The redefinition of that which is permitted of a Jew to accept any action someone sees as Jewish, and simply to remove all limitations from a 3000 year old heritage. However, if a definition is all inclusive and utterly non-selective or specific, what use is the definition to anyone? What meaning is there to the definition Table if I include chairs as well? Furthermore, as I will address later on, what is it about the name that you must have if you remove it of all of its meaning?
Imagine for one second that you are in Wittenberg Germany on the eve of All Saint’s Day, October 31, 1517. There you see, none other than the Monk, Martin Luther, nailing his 95 Theses into the door of the Castle Church. In the midst of his “Post” effort you ask him if this is the groundwork for a new and improved Catholicism. I have little doubt that Martin would find a few extra nails and nail you to the door as well.
Martin Luther’s movement, as well as many others, was that of rebellion against a system that wasn’t working in his mind and needed to be changed. The outcome was Protestant Christianity, a new group with new ideas and of course a new name. If one group doesn’t seem to be one that fits my needs, we create a new one. We create something of our own and make it home. It makes no sense to say I want your house on 37 west Broadway and then move it to 345 2 billionth street in the Bronx but continue to call it my house on 37 west Broadway. If you wanted it there why didn’t you leave it there? If I wanted to be a policeman but didn’t believe in Laws and the obligation to live by them, what exactly is it that I like about being a policeman? What meaning is there to definitions if they have no borders and are all inclusive?
“What is it with you and women?; I want to be one, and I want the right to have babies; You can’t have babies you haven’t got a womb; I don’t care! I want the right, and I want you all to call me Loretta…” (Monty Python “The Life of Brian”, Council of the People’s Front of Judia”
I know the above quote is not a perfect fit, I just needed some humor. If you do not like anything about the rules and obligations of a group, why do you insist on continuing to call yourself by the name of said group? Why do you want to change an existing group which you don’t even like? The Torah describes the Jewish People as a nation that resides alone in solitude, the underlying meaning being that they are supposed to be that way, so if you don’t like the holy text of the Jews what is it about being called Jewish is it that you like?
I believe that many changes must be made in order to make this country livable for the current inhabitants. My uncle described it as the success of compromise. We have received a country that is neither Jewish nor Democratic and everyone is miserable. However, I have to wonder if the Conservative Movement is not a living example of a Jerry Seinfeld observation. He observed that people are sport team fans for life. However over the course of ten years the team you root for, no longer has the same players, same manager, owners or even cheer leaders so what is it that you are rooting for? He concluded that it’s the Jerseys. Now how sad is that?