More Religious-Secular Tension in Israel

More Religious-Secular Tension in Israel

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

In a recent column I wrote about the state of relations between the secular Israeli community and the modern orthodox (Dati l’Umei) and the Haredim. Hard as it to believe things appear to be getting uglier as the days pass. Israelis either do not want to address the real issues (avoidance) or they are consumed by hatred; neither response is good. In addition, rabbinic authorities remain largely silent. 

The Chief Rabbi of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) has resigned rather than require religious IAF soldiers to attend ceremonies where women are singing, despite IDF directives to the contrary. The importance of his decision is increased because it was part of his refusal to continue to participate in the Shahar program which has been successfully integrating the haredi community into the military program.

It is reported that rabbis have announced that no female gynecologists will be permitted to be presenters at a conference sponsored by the PUAH Institute, which seeks to facilitate guidance and counseling according to halacha (Jewish law) for couples with fertility problems.

Cna’an, the company in charge of advertising on Egged buses in Jerusalem, has refused to accept advertisements which include women, even those respectfully and modestly dressed. A women’s group has petitioned the High Court to insist that Egged not deny these ads. The bus company fears that their buses will be damaged by religious extremists in protest.

Meanwhile, most rabbinic authorities remain largely silent.

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