Watch this hilarious Israeli video that actually explains what being Jewish in Israel entails. Then you may want to read about the growing haredification of Israel’s rabbinical courts. These courts tend to decide family matters and conversions and are used mostly by non-haredi Israelis (haredi, or ultra Orthodox Jews, tend to resolve domestic matters privately using their own Rabbis). This trend is likely to expand the rift between Orthodox and secular Israelis and is in fact creating divisions amongst those identified as Modern Orthodox. Besides the problems this trend creates with issues related to conversions and agunot, such divisions threaten the continued viability of the State of Israel itself.

Frankly, I don’t see any short term solutions to this issue. Each side is firm in its resolve. Secular Israelis continuing to bash all religious Jews almost indiscriminately and sidestepping the authority of the religious courts by, for instance, getting married in Cyprus. Even more Liberal Orthodox Jews are being encouraged to do without the religious courts:

Last week, veteran religious feminist Dr. Hanna Kehat told a conference that young women, especially secular ones, should be discouraged from getting married under the auspices of the rabbinate, because it puts them at the mercy of dayanim if they have to divorce. Her statement, which caused a minor uproar, was an early signal that even many religious Israelis with a basic commitment to Halacha are becoming so disillusioned with the rabbinate that they are willing to divorce from it.

The Haredim for their part, continue to maintain and even extend their death grip on all aspects of civil life in Israel, unconcerned with the dangerous rift that will be caused by their overly fastidious promotion of humra over humra (overly strict interpretations of religious law).

I am so not excited right now.

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About the author


Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.


  • Not that many Israelis actually fly to Cyprus for weddings. it is a TINY minority that goes. So miniscule that nothing really has to be done. Those that leave and get their weddings in Cyprus face so much back lash from fellow Israelis because it is the ANTI Zionist thing to do. I have heard of parents cutting off their children for even contemplating doing it and employers laying off people because of it. It is a tiny figure an d the liberal anti observant left loves to focus on that. In actuality as I stated early it rarely takes place.

    It is only the very liberal modern orthodox left that has a major problem with the heredi courts. Rav Aviner, for instance has not slammed it. and he represents the most “liberal” if you want to call it that of the National Religious Orthodox Zionist camp. Rav Steinsaltz neither has come out against it.

    Whoever is most qualified on the job to make halachic decisions should be hired, if that is the Ultra Orthodox so be it. Rav Ovadia and Rav Eliyashuv are illus- prodigies.

  • Gotta agree in general with Scott – the militantly secular end of this debate is largely magnified by the fact of secular control over the media.

    In fact, the large, silent majority of Israelis who did not came to Israel to live out the socialist Left’s post-Judaic dream have steadily emerged from the margins since the YK war. They have been gaining the political and cultural volume that they should have always occupied. This is seen in the still-strong support for Shas, and in the still-burgeoning wave of interest in Judaism.

    Very few MOR Israeli homes have not been touched by these trends, to the point of having a child/cousin who is a BT.

    The tiny secular elite – increasing isolated and threatened – are the ones agitating strongly against any religious expression.

  • Yes, Ben-David, there is a Jewish Secular Media Conspiracy against the large masses of BT and the incredible knowledge of Rab Ovadia (whose friends that get job as ministers end in jail… and let’s not forget that thanks to Rab Ovadia, Israel’s last president was appointed… and he didn’t make us look good, didn’t he?).

    And of course, there aint such a thing as olech bitshuva (opposite of BT), people who leave the Haredi fold in search for other ways of living Judaism… no, not a single one!!

  • Ahad Ha’am would kill himself if he’d saw this video… he thought Israel would be a cultural and espiritual center of Judaism… and in the end, most Israelis think that people with Polish hats are the “very Jews” and they are the “iehudim pshutim”….

  • Actually, Katsav was a great President minus his personal life. He stood strong against Disengagement which was a terrible idea and refused to go to Kadima.

    However, yes Ben David you are right. gweitz, why dont you try living in Israel and see the reality how it really is. The Liberal Left media here magnifies everything beyond belief.

  • “Actually, Katsav was a great President … He stood strong against Disengagement”

    If that’s what it takes to be a good president, well damn.

  • great video. why didn’t someone explain this to me before? we goyim see the different jewish headgear and just get so bogged down trying to make sense of it all.

    but wait – the really jewish have the kippa under their hats. now i’m confused again.

  • within shouting distance of the gazan freedom fighters. don’t get me wrong, i love arabs. just can’t stand the hatred they indulge in.

    nice site you have. i come here from time to time & finally decided to leave a comment. keep up the great work!