Dan Juster

Tikkun International & Restoration From Zion
"The rest of the Israelis who have to fund the welfare system on behalf of the ultra-Orthodox through high taxation, highly resent this."

Last month I wrote about the power of the ultra-Orthodox Jews. Their two main political parties combine to wield enormous, inordinate influence in Israeli government. They both support the following policies:

1. The control of Judaism in the Land through the institution of the Chief Rabbis. Although the ultra-Orthodox represent only around a tenth of the population, they effectively control who is to be defined as a Jew in Israel.

2. The ultra-Orthodox demand great support for their full time religious schools, yet their children and young people are not taught core subjects that can prepare them for earning a living for themselves without depending on welfare. The previous government coalition sought to change this, but Netanyahu dissolved that government when he last called for elections. The ultra-Orthodox education funding "with no strings attached" was restored under the present government.

3. The ultra-Orthodox demand welfare payments so that all the men who want to study Torah (really Talmud) can do so and not have to work. This is an enormous burden on the State budget that is not sustainable. They demand that their men not be required to work; they see their study as their work which the State should support. The rest of the Israelis who have to fund the welfare system on behalf of the ultra-Orthodox through high taxation, highly resent this.

4. The ultra-Orthodox demand that their men be exempted from compulsory service in the army. Some sects are even against the existence of the state of Israel! Most refuse to serve in the army. This attitude is defended with the assertion that it is the observance and prayers of the ultra-Orthodox (the only ones by their definition who are heard by God) that keeps Israel safe from its enemies.

5. The ultra-Orthodox controlling the Interior Ministry that grants Israeli citizenship. They reject Messianic Jews and others who have a right of citizenship by descent from Jews, interpreting the Law of Return to exclude those they don't consider match their definition of Jewishness. They have even rejected conversions from well-known Orthodox Rabbis in the United States. The Supreme Court has accepted Conservative and Reform Conversions as valid. However, the ultra-Orthodox increasingly resist the implementation of these rulings.

As a result of this, plus the recent decision not to proceed with an egalitarian section for prayer at the Western Wall, many diaspora Jews feel alienated from Israel.

Orthodox Judaism is the state religion of Israel. It does provide some moral foundations for the society and has been key in Israel not allowing gay marriage or embracing the whole LGBT agenda. For example, in adoption of children only heterosexual married couples may apply. So some of what comes from the Orthodox is good.

What is to be done? Though the ultra-Orthodox are a small minority (13 today in the Knesset-Parliament out of 120) they wield a great deal of power. This is because every other major party is willing to submit to their demands so they will join their coalition in order to have sufficient votes to form a government. But this could change if the non-religious conservative parties and the more liberal parties would make an agreement that they are committed to reverse the ultra-Orthodox policies listed in points 1-5 above.

Your prayers for this nation, for conviction, healing and unity are appreciated.

By Daniel Juster
Dan Juster is on the board of Tikkun International and oversees the Tikkun America network of congregations. Donate to Restoration from Zion.
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15:05 02Oct17 Alon -
And what is the horse we need to ride to get to that political location?

  -- Dr Juster replies: I think that it is still not clear. My hope is that a movement of parties will grow up that will pre-commit to not being in coalition with the Ultra Orthodox, but only with the national Orthodox as a religious party. My vote will go to those who can be so committed.

15:40 02Oct17 Liv Hicks -
Totally agree with this. I am 3/4th genetically Jewish, but was denied Israeli citizenship because I am Christian. That means 3 or my 4 grandparents are Jewish. I do not have a birth certificate because I was born in Germany (I think) after the war in 1948. My family emigrated to the US and never claimed to be Jewish. I became a Christian in 1969, when I was 21. It changed my life, and when I was 62 years old I discovered my Jewish DNA. I'm so happy to be both, a Christian and a Jew ... and I pray for the orthodox in Israel to become believers in Yeshua and really study the Torah. Mazeltov!

  -- Dr Juster replies: Yes, I agree that there should be wider acceptance.

FollwingComment(17:08 02Oct17 Elhanan, Thank you for this clarity. It is very clear that the Orthodox have no case for not serving in the IDF, as King David, whose prayers they pray daily, served in the military and also studied Torah. So can they.)

18:53 02Oct17 Mevashir -
I used to be ultra Orthodox. This article is very accurate. Most Christian supporters of Israel are clueless about the power of these Jewish Jihadists.

  -- Dr Juster replies: They do have all the marks of the cultic, but only a few are violent.

19:49 02Oct17 Ford Campbell -
Why wouldn't serious Jewish scholars read the Tanakh or even be concentrating on the Torah rather than the Talmud?

  -- 'Mevashir' replies: The Talmud is essentially a commentary on the Torah and Tenach. Christians have their own bible commentaries, numbering perhaps hundreds of thousands. Same concept.

10:30 03Oct17 Waltraud Hendel -
I really appreciate this information, so I know how to pray for Israel. It almost sounds like a religious dictatorship. Like the old Pharisees all over again, I will pray for them. And will inform some of my Christian friends, who love and pray for Israel.

  -- Dr Juster replies: The national Orthodox point this out all the time.

Also in this issue of the newsletter:
Asher Intrater: The Apostle and the High Priest
Eitan Shishkoff: Fathers to Sons: a Relay Race
Avi T.: An Invitation to Stop
Yevgeni Stanukevich: Common Ground
Asher Intrater: Hebrew Roots of Ordination
Cody Archer: Hosting the Nations & New Record Numbers
Moti Cohen: Real Peace between Jews and Arabs in Israel