Israel is considering denying citizenship to Jews whose conversions to Judaism were performed by Conservative or Reform rabbis. There’s a bill in the Knesset that would give the (ultra-Orthodox) chief rabbinate authority over all conversions; this would overturn an Israeli Supreme Court decision allowing citizenship to all Jews converted by rabbis from all branches of Judaism. The chief rabbinate already controls marriage and divorce. Whee.

When I talk to American Jews who are ambivalent about their Judaism (“it’s anti-feminist! it’s rigidly cerebral and text-obsessed! it’s a throwback!”) I try to say that Judaism is a pluralistic religion; there are many ways to practice and at least three distinct philosophical and theological paths. I say that Judaism does not have to be a completely patriarchal, wimmin-oppressing, chauvinistic, isolationist religion of fucktardedness. And then something like this happens.

I hope Israel (and hey, America) can come to terms with how much power it wants the ultra-Orthodox to have over its coreligionists. If I wrote about this for Tablet magazine the readers would disembowel me, but think about it: who is a bigger threat to democracy in Israel, the Arabs or the ultra-Orthodox?


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