Many of us who sought a more open voice in the religious affairs of Israel might feel disappointed in the wake of the chief rabbinate elections in Israel (“Pyrrhic Victory For Haredi Rabbis,” Editorial, Aug. 2).
Many of us who really want a more pluralistic society in Israel, vis a vis religious affairs, might even hope the newly elected chief rabbinate positions would implode, resulting in separation of church and state in Israel. Nevertheless, these newly elected positions now represent the status quo.
So what are we to do? First, we should respect the newly elected chief rabbis and encourage their efforts to resolve tensions among haredi, secular and Religious Zionist groups.
Notwithstanding that I think Rabbi Uri Regev of the Hiddush movement should have supported Rabbi David Stav, the Religious Zionist candidate for Ashkenazi chief rabbi, I believe in the efforts of Rabbi Regev and institutes like Alma, founded by Knesset Member Ruth Calderon, to permit Conservative, Reform and civil marriages to take place in Israel. Just as Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and civil marriages, are recorded without prejudice in America, so individuals in Israel should be able to marry partners of their choice.
Some might argue that this would create confusion or a slippery slope, but with computer technology today, issues of personal affiliation or identity could be respectfully and confidentially recorded. Such a resolution would go a long way in pragmatically and ethically resolving questions of personal status including agunot.
I would urge the leadership of enlightened Orthodox institutions to form an alliance and create an alternative force within halachic parameters. Such a group would then be positioned to form an alternate bet din (rabbinic court), depending on their ability to form an alliance and ultimately depending on the decisions of the newly elected chief rabbis.
Here’s hoping that we can build a more tolerant society in Israel, whose bedrock is that each group discovers God “B’Darchei Noam” — in pleasant ways.