Monday, November 07, 2011

Jewish Renewal in the Public Domain


Shabbat: A Cultural Time-Out

Every individual in Israel must be allowed to keep the Shabbat as he sees fit. We believe that there is a deep need for the non-observant, the traditional and the religious Jews in Israel to respect each other’s Shabbat.

Our proposal is that Shabbat in Israel will be a day of rest from work and that all commercial activity will halt on that day. The sabbatical from work and commerce should not be legislated. Instead, it should stem from mutual agreement and understanding that this day of rest is important to each individual on a personal level, while also consolidating the cultural identity of the State.

We propose that Shabbat should be a cultural and family time-out for Israel’s citizens. Shabbat will be a time for cultural activities in the various communities. The community centers and synagogues should be open all day, offering cultural activities to attract young and old into their doors.
Israelis will honor the desire of religious neighborhoods to close their streets to traffic on Shabbat. This will not be enforced by legislation or coercion, but will be the result of the free will of Israel’s citizens to respect the faith of their fellow-citizens.

Israel’s official representatives will honor the Shabbat in Israel and throughout the world and will not engage in official diplomatic activities on that day.

Renewing the Community

Israel was a tribal nation from its very beginning, starting from the 12 sons of Jacob who founded the 12 tribes of Israel. In the Diaspora, the tribes were replaced by communities that served as the framework for mutual assistance and brotherhood. The communities had their own court systems, cultural activities and welfare programs.

The State of Israel must encourage the formation of communities in Israel. These communities will strengthen Israel’s neighborhoods, erase the feeling of estrangement and encourage cooperation on mutual projects. This will produce a quality environment that will positively influence all of Israeli society.

Justice: Gradual Application of Jewish Law

Currently, Israel’s justice system is comprised of laws and legal principles borrowed from Western nations. The dissatisfaction with the system expressed by the majority of Israelis stems from this “import.” The Jewish Nation has a historical tradition of justice and laws: the Jewish court system. Current estrangement toward Jewish law creates an anomaly: an entire nation with a glorious tradition of justice turns its back on its deepest essence.

We propose an incremental application of Jewish Law into Israeli society. The first step is to use Jewish law in cases of damages and finances. The rabbinical courts for monetary claims in Israel currently have the status of arbitrator, but it would not be complicated to transform them into official courts of the State of Israel. Another step that can be taken is legislation that would obligate Israeli courts to judge according to Jewish law if there is a precedent for it in such a case.

In addition, the State must initiate research to foster the application of Jewish law to our modern reality. These steps would establish Jewish law as a relevant legal system, based on the ancient wisdom of the Nation of Israel.

Education: Cultural Upgrade

Currently, Israel’s educational system does not respond to the longing of the vast majority of Israelis to connect to the Jewish ethos. The main reason for this is that the responsibility for education is placed on the State and not on the parents. The State forces the parents to send their children to be educated as it determines; the parents cannot influence the content of the material their children are learning or the makeup of the educational staff.

We propose a free market in education, so that parents may send their child to the educational institution most suited to their ideals and educational principles. This would result in a surge in Jewish cultural studies, which are important to most Israelis.

Until this change can be made, we propose the adoption of core studies in every school in Israel to upgrade the Jewish learning experience of Israel’s students:

1. The history of the Nation of Israel throughout the ages

2. The Jewish Bible

3. Selected chapters of Mishnah and Talmud

4. Jewish and Chassidic thought

These core studies will strengthen the Jewish identity of Israel’s citizens, while enhancing social solidarity and the feeling of belonging in Israel.

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