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Hiddush CEO Rabbi Uri Regev & Chairman Stanley P. Gold

A message from Hiddush

June 29, 2017
5 Tamuz, 5777

Dear Friends,

If you weren't on Mars this week, there is high likelihood that you are aware of the fierce storms engulfing Israel and world Jewry under the blazing summer sun. Every self-respecting Jewish organization issued a statement, and the language ranged from dismay to deplore, although most were lacking when it came to taking action.

The Jewish Agency Board of Governors convening in Israel this week, which rightly saw the timing and nature of the decisions as a blow to their faces, reacted with unheard of gravity. The festive dinner scheduled with PM Netanyahu at the Knesset was called off, and the schedule of the B.O.G. was reshuffled to focus on the crisis at hand.

Israeli politicians have long since developed a thick skin, and mere protestations are unlikely to shift them from their "politics first" routine. Still, by now, they may have actually started to realize that what they did is not 'politics as usual.' The obvious indication for those who didn't get it yet is an emergency AIPAC leadership mission, which met with PM Netanyahu today, conveying that this has severe repercussions on their ability to effectively advocate for Israel. This was coupled with news of senior members of Congress similarly communicating that they view the government's decisions as a reckless lobbing of explosive charges.

As evidenced in Hiddush's recent public opinion survey, the government does not speak for the people, nor does it represent the best interests of the the State of Israel, let alone the Jewish people. With that in mind, we welcomed the news of Steven Nasatir, one of the most successful veteran executives of America's large Jewish federations. He said, "the Federation in Chicago will not be hosting any Member of Knesset that votes for this bill. They will not be welcome in our community... this is a situation where politics became first order instead of leadership and statesmanship... this is an outrage... this is not just a little hiccup. This is big, and it needs to be fixed."

We believe that it's high time that Israeli politicians bear responsibility for their actions, and so long as they support policies and pass laws that aim at delegitimizing non-Orthodox Judaism, and, more recently, liberal Orthodoxy - they should realize that they are not welcome in our communities. Diaspora Jewish communities are based on pluralism, mutual respect, and religious freedom. This is what Israel's Declaration of Independence promised. This is what the overwhelming majority of Israelis consistently support.

You cannot be a party to policies that are based on the exclusivity of Orthodoxy, the denial of freedom of worship, the closing of gates for converts, and the perpetuation a mind boggling reality in which Israel is the only western democracy that denies its citizens the right to marry - and expect that the very people you degrade and strip of basic rights and dignity by these laws and decisions will welcome you, as if your spitting at them is merely rain, and your blows are simply hail.

All the very best,

Stanley P. Gold,
Hiddush Chair

Rabbi Uri Regev,
Hiddush President

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Two-thirds of Israelis oppose the
Government suspending the Kotel Agreement

click HERE for Hiddush analysis

These Hiddush survey findings prove how far the government has swerved away from the public will and the needs of the State of Israel. Instead, the government leaders act as puppets whose strings are being pulled by the anti-Zionist, ultra-Orthodox political parties.

Following the storm that broke out after the government's decisions this Sunday in acquiescence to the ultra-Orthodox political parties' demands to suspend the “Kotel Compromise” and pass the Conversion Law, Hiddush commissioned a poll to gauge the public reaction to these decisions.

About two-thirds of the adult Jewish population in Israel opposes these government decisions! These are the unequivocal findings of the survey conducted by the Smith Polling Institute on June 27, 2017 among a sample of 500 respondents representing the adult Jewish population in Israel (sampling error 4.5%). This latest public opinion survey joins an ongoing, periodic series of surveys commissioned by Hiddush since its founding, which illustrate the Israeli public's opposition to the government's policies on matters of religion and state. Overwhelmingly, the public supports expanding freedom of religion and conscience in Israel, such as in the areas of right to family and marriage freedom.


Following Hiddush's demands: IDF permits secular military funerals for the first time ever

Dear Friends,

Progress can be made, even under adverse political circumstances, as we can see below with Hiddush's most recent victory. Pursuing this uphill battle is ever more important now than at other more politically welcoming times. This requires perseverance and expanding professional capacity and staff; and for that we need your help.

Please support Hiddush today


[Click for full article]

Following Hiddush's demands: the IDF regulations regarding the burial of fallen soldiers have been changed. It is now possible to hold a military funeral without religious contents in a military cemetery and - secular military funerals in civil cemeteries.

Following Hiddush's petition to the military and government authorities, the IDF issued an update to General Staff Order ["38.0116 - Military ceremonies for funerals or dedicating tombstones"], permitting the families of fallen soldiers to hold funerals without religious content for their loved ones.

Up until this amendment, fallen IDF soldiers could only be buried in religious funeral ceremonies (Orthodox funerals for Jewish soldiers, or according to the religions of the fallen soldiers). Families who wanted to bury their loved ones in civil ceremonies were required to do so in civilian cemeteries without any military honors (such as carrying the coffin, ceremonial wreaths, honor guards, and official eulogies).

The new rule states for the first time that "In the process of arranging the funeral, the deceased soldiers' loved ones are permitted to choose whether they wish to maintain the religious characteristics of the funeral ceremony" (religious content includes the reading of biblical verses, the recitation of psalms & prayers by a military rabbi and cantor, and the recitation of the Kaddish prayer by the family). However, the amended regulation still shows a lack of understanding and a disrespect for secular alternatives to Orthodox burial, as dictated by the military Rabbinate, and the alternative of non-Orthodox religious funerals, such as Reform and Conservative.


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