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Ruach Hiddush - רוּחַ חִדּוּשׁ

רבנים וחזנים למען חופש דת ושוויון

Rabbis and Cantors for
Religious Freedom and Equality in Israel

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Israel's culture wars are both heating up and becoming clearer within various segments of Israeli society. Ronald Lauder, formerly the credentialed staunch defender of Prime Minister Netanyahu, takes exception in a New York Times editorial to both a single state solution, and more poignantly, to excluding 90% of world Jewry from Israel's vision while fundamentally contradicting the Herzlian raison d'etre for the establishment of the State.

We follow with two articles about Tzohar's initiative to challenge the dominance of the Israeli Rabbinate's authority over kashrut in Israel. Following up on the pioneering efforts of Rabbi Aaron Liebowitz's Hashgachah Pratit, bringing the resources of Tzohar to bear on the issue of the religious responsibility for kashrut but without government politics intervening, Tzohar seeks to further open the door to kashrut supervision.

The government's attempt to pass a Basic Law exempting Haredi men from military service would create a portion of society with special rights regarding the universal responsibility to protect Israel's security, and embedding those rights in Israel's faux-Constitution. Widely rejected by most of Israeli society, the issue may yet bring down the current government, and enlarge the public debate of "religious coercion."

While subverting the Rabbinate's control over marriage is widespread by various means, a young couple who married halakhically but not legally is seeking to have the Supreme Court rule that they are a married couple that the government must register. The government has insisted that she is not permissible to any other man, and yet refuses to register their marriage, placing the young woman as neither married nor single, an untenable situation to be sure. The lawsuit threatens the Rabbinate's control over marriage for Jews in Israel.

And finally, a very interesting article by feminist writer and teacher, Tehila Friedman, regarding Orthodox women's struggle to serve in Israel's military, and the glass ceiling the women are shattering to create their own authentic space simultaneously in the military and in Orthodox life, determining their own destiny within the confines of halakhah. In this struggle we see a glimmer of the future, as Israeli women define for themselves the contours of religious life within both the culture and existential exigencies of the Jewish State.

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May you have a meaningful and celebratory Pesah.

פסח שמח וכשר,

Mark H. Levin
Ruach Hiddush

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March 22, 2018


Israel’s Self-Inflicted Wounds

by Ronald S. Lauder

Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress and close friend to PM Netanyahu, criticizes Netanyahu's government policies for "The second, two-prong threat is Israel’s capitulation to religious extremists and the growing disaffection of the Jewish diaspora."


אלטרנטיבה לרבנות: רבני צהר הקימו מערך כשרות

By Kobi Nachshoni

אחרי מיזם הנישואים והשותפות בבתי הדין לגיור, מסמן הארגון את המטרה הבאה בהפרטת שרותי הדת - הקמת גוף כשרות חדש שיכרסם ברבנות הראשית. היעד: 1,200 מסעדות בתוך שלוש שנים והפיכתו לגדול בישראל. "לא באנו להחליף את הרבנות אלא לאתגר אותה", אומרים ב"צהר"

After the marriage initiative and cooperation on Conversion Courts, Tzohar indicates the next goal: Establishing a new system of kashrut inspection. The goal is 1,200 restaurants over the next 3 years. They want to challenge the Rabbinate's system of kashrut inspections.


Holy Hashgacha! New Kashrut Turf War In Israel

By Michele Chabin

... soon there will be a new (and cheaper) kosher certifier in town; it will be run by the religious Zionist rabbis of Tzohar, a group best known for offering Israeli couples an Orthodox way to get married in Israel without the direct intervention of the Rabbinate.


The Real Crisis

Jerusalem Post Editorial

"The wholesale exemption from military service of a large and rapidly growing segment of society is a fundamental problem that needs to be addressed seriously. Stop-gap measures designed to save the government coalition ignore the fundamental question. Will this government, or the next, listen to the majority and stop the discriminatory IDF draft policy? Or will yet another government come into office that compromises the value of equality for the sake of narrow political interests?"


Orthodox couple appeals to High Court after Rabbinate puts them in marital limbo

By Michael Bachner

Around 1 1/2 years after marrying according to halakhah, the couple turn to the Supreme Court with the request that they be recognized as a married couple without being compelled to marry again with the rabbinate.

Therefore they are requesting to cancel the status of "doubtful married" for the woman. They are petitioning the court for the annulment of the law that "Pirate" weddings are a criminal act whose punishment is 2 years incarceration.


אני פמיניסטית דתייה. יש דבר כזה באמת

By Tehila Friedman

באולפנה היו אומרים לנו, שהגיוס אסור כי אשה אמורה לעבור "מרשות אביה לרשות בעלה" ואסור שתהיה כפופה לרשות הצבא. אלא שעברו כמה שנים מימי האולפנה שלי, והמשפט המוזר הזה לא יכול יותר לעבור בשקט בקרב נשות המגזר ונערותיו. והנה, נשברה החזית האחידה. ובמקומה בא מאבק איתנים פנימי, שבו הפך גיוס הבנות לסמל של תקרות הזכוכית ושימור ההייררכיה, ושל המאמץ להקטין את מקומן של הנשים בחברה.

In religious high school they would tell us that military enlistment is forbidden because a woman must move "from the domain of her father to the domain of her husband," and it's forbidden that she be subject to the authority of the military. But, many years have passed since high school, and this strange sentence can no longer pass in silence among women. And so, this front is shattered. And in its place comes an internal battle of Titans, in which enlistment of young women is turned into a symbol of the glass ceiling and preservation of the hierarchy, and the effort to diminish the place of women in society.



רוּ"חַ חִּדוּ"שׁ היא ארגון של רבנים וחזנים הפועל למימוש מלא של הבטחת מגילת הצעמאות לחופש דת ושוויון. מימוש הבטחה זו חיוני לחיזוק זהותה של מדינת ישראל כמדינה יהודית ודמוקרטית ולהמשך השותפות עם העם היוהדי לתפוצותיו.

Ruach Hiddush is a network of Rabbis and Cantors working to fully realize the promise of Israel's Declaration of Independence, which guarantees religious freedom and equality. The fulfillment of this promise is vital for strengthening Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and for maintaining the solidarity of world Jewry.

a project of Hiddush מיזם ש ל חדִּוּ"שׁ

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