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Reflections On Jewish Democracy

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  • Cover Type: Hardcover | Hebrew
  • Number Of Pages: 804 Pages
  • Center: Religion and State
  • Price: 98 NIS

Reflections on Jewish Democracy is an anthology that was compiled by Dr. Benny Prorat and Prof. Aviezer Ravitzky to give readers a more multifaceted view of the relationship between Israel’s democratic regime and Jewish tradition, since Jewish sources contain far more democratic elements – or at least proto-democratic elements – than one might expect. These elements provide a firm basis for a relationship between Jewish tradition and democracy that is far more productive and harmonious than the relationship commonly perceived today.

In Israel in recent years, there has been a growing perception that Torah and democracy are at odds with each other. Religious soldiers, for example, are seen as torn between the orders of their commanders and the directives of their rabbis, while religious rulings regarding state and society are seen as impinging on the democratic process. The relationship between these two worlds is both complex and emotionally charged.

Reflections on Jewish Democracy is an anthology that was compiled by Dr. Benny Prorat and Prof. Aviezer Ravitzky to give readers a more multifaceted view of the relationship between Israel's democratic regime and Jewish tradition, since Jewish sources contain far more democratic elements - or at least proto-democratic elements - than one might expect. These elements provide a firm basis for a relationship between Jewish tradition and democracy that is far more productive and harmonious than the relationship commonly perceived today.

While the volume is characterized by a plurality of voices, two central arguments can be distilled from the articles it contains. The first is that it is possible for traditionally observant Jews to be integrated into the democratic process and to play by its rules while still adhering to the beliefs that govern their lives. The second is that Jewish sources that deal with democratic issues can enrich discourse about democracy and clarify points relevant to the topic, sometimes in surprising ways.

Reflections on Jewish Democracy discusses both theoretical and practical issues related to the relationship between the democratic regime and the world of halakha. Topics explored in this volume include: the influence of the Jewish theocratic approach on the democratic way of life, the optimal electoral system, the halakhic status of referendums, the principle of separation of powers, and possible courses of action in cases of conflict between halakhic rulings and democratic decisions.

Contributors include: Dr. Irvin A. Agus, Prof. Shalom Albeck, Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, Prof. Gerald (Yaakov) Blidstein, Justice Menachem Elon, Prof. Zev W. Falk, Rabbi Shlomo Goren, Rabbi Chaim David Halevi, Dr. Yoram Hazony, Dr. Yechiel Kaplan, Prof. Menachem Lorberbaum, Rabbi Nachum Rabinowitz, Rabbi Sol Roth, Prof. Eliezer Schweid, Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern, Rabbi Eliezer Yehuda Waldenberg.

In honor of the publication of Reflections on Jewish Democracy, IDI and the Tzohar rabbinic organization co-sponsored a full-day conference on Democracy and Jewish Law on June 6, 2010. For further information about the conference and full video coverage of its panel discussions (Hebrew), click here.