The Supreme Court’s decision to recognize conversions performed by private Orthodox rabbinical courts in Israel is nothing less than a historic drama. The immediate significance is the loss of the Chief Rabbinate’s Orthodox monopoly over conversions, but it’s also a milestone in the privatization of religious services on the road to the Chief Rabbinate’s loss of relevance. Originally published by Haaretz.
In an op-ed from Haaretz, IDI research fellow Yair Sheleg responds to settler leader Benny Katzover’s positions on the Jewish and democratic nature of the State of Israel, and argues that Israel should not prefer either of these two identities and should view its Jewish and democratic nature as two manifestations of human dignity.
IDI's Shuki Friedman laments the existence of separate education systems for each sector of Israel's population, which reinforce, rather than bridge societal divides. This op-ed first appeared on Times of Israel.
In this memoir, Prof. Yedidia Stern recounts the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and calls on the Israeli public to turn that horrid day into an annual “Israeli Democracy Day." This article was first published in the Jerusalem Post.
In this op-ed from Haaretz, IDI Research Fellow Yair Sheleg decries the ultra-Orthodox refusal to alter standards for conversion to Judaism in recognition of the fact that for many Israelis, Jewish identity is not only an expression of religious observance but also of identification with Zionism and Jewish culture. He warns that the ultra-Orthodox approach is causing serious injustice to thousands of people who wish to live as Jews and raise Jewish children in Israel.
It is time for all of us to rethink the desired character of the Israeli Shabbat. This article was originally published by Times of Israel.
Ron Huldai, Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality: "The establishment of the Democracy Pavilion is an impressive demonstration of Israeli democracy. Only in a democratic society can freedom and tolerance co-exist. This is what allows the opposing sectors of Israeli society to live side by side." The Democracy Pavilion is located at the start of the Independence Trail in Tel Aviv and is open to the public free of charge.
Israel needs to abandon the vindictive approach of trying to reform ultra-Orthodox society through force and budget cuts, and rather start investing heavily in education and job creation in the ultra-Orthodox sector. This op-ed was first published in the New York Jewish Week.
The relationship between religion and state in Israel is stormy. Lately, it seems the ultra-Orthodox have launched a new offensive on several fronts. This op-ed was originally published by JNS.org.
No aspect of the current Western Wall plaza arrangement, in which the Orthodox maintain a monopoly, will change if other denominations are allowed to pray at the foot of the Temple Mount in a new plaza. This article was first published by The Jerusalem Post.
What does Shabbat and its observance look like in the State of Israel? Can every individual enjoy this day of rest in the way he/she chooses? Are there actually individuals who are forced to give up Shabbat as a result of a lack of choice or economic coercion? IDI scholar Dr. Shuki Friedman explains in this article which originally appeared on eJewish Philanthropy.
Earlier this month, change snuck in through the back door of Israel's court system when Israel’s first ultra-Orthodox judge was appointed. This article was first published by the Jewish Press.
Recently, the findings of the third Guttman-AVI CHAI report—A Portrait of Israeli Jews: Beliefs, Observance, and Values of Israeli Jews—were presented to the public. The findings have drawn much media coverage because they revealed that an overwhelming majority of Israeli Jews believe in God. In an op-ed from <em>Haaretz</em>, IDI Senior researcher Yair Sheleg responds to columnists who were alarmed by the findings regarding belief in God, and argues that what is really of concern is the inverse relationship between this belief and belief in democratic values.
The proposed "Basic Law: Israel – The Nation State of the Jewish People" has the support of one third of the members of Knesset. In this op-ed, which was originally published in Hebrew in Yedioth Ahronoth, IDI Vice President of Research Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern, who is deeply committed to the Jewish nature of the State of Israel, warns that the shift from defining Israel as a "Jewish and democratic state" to a "Jewish state with a democratic regime" is not a semantic shift, but a seismic change.
The upcoming High Holidays are an opportunity to expand our perception beyond our selves and communities. This article was first published by the New York Jewish Week.
Ahead of today’s vote on a bill that would enable religious courts to conduct arbitration with the agreement of both parties, similar to the arbitration that takes place in other frameworks, a policy statement was sent to the Ministerial Committee on Legislation by Israel Democracy Institute’s Dr. Benny Porat.
“The Kotel compromise presents a proper balance between the will and desire of Orthodox individuals - who are the majority of those praying at the Western Wall -- to continue praying in the main plaza as they always have, and the will and desire of other Jewish groups that want to pray in the vicinity of the Kotel according to their faith."