On the government’s recent decision on the agreement of the Western Wall & Giur

0 Comments 27 June 2017

The government of Israel, in its recent decisions rescinding the agreement on the Kotel (Western Wall) and giur (conversion), raises concerns for us as a rabbinical human rights organization.

By Golasso - Own work, GFDL

By Golasso – Own work, GFDL

In Jewish terms, we believe that the politicization of discussions of Jewish theology and of the legitimacy of Jewish denominations is a hillul Hashem (desecration of God’s name). It is an organized and systematic attempt to engage the government of the State of Israel in halbanat panim, the humiliation of human beings created in God’s own Image, which our sages compared to murder. At issue from a human rights perspective is the right of citizens and visitors to Israel to the free exercise of religion. In our democratic system, governments may provide religious services to the public. However, it is a simple fact of life that neither elected representatives nor appointed government clerks have the tools to engage in discussion of whether a religious denomination is legitimate or not. Governments have no business deciding between streams of Judaism, rival churches, groups within Islam, or any other questions on which religious communities are divided. This sin is compounded by the flagrant violation of the Kotel agreement with Diaspora Jewry that would have settled the Kotel issue. The decision to strengthen the hand of the government’s bureaucrats who comprise the Chief Rabbinate in the matters of giur is also an assumption of power and authority where none is legitimate. We call on the government of Israel to reverse these unfortunate decisions and the sooner the better.

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