Stand up for Jewish Pluralism in Israel

  • by: Jessica Fishman
  • recipient: Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu
Israel, which is supposed to be an island of democracy in the Middle East, is facing a growing threat to its freedom of religion. Recent events and policy that continues to favor the ultra-Orthodox minority show that there is a severe threat to Jewish pluralism and democracy in the country. There is growing afront by the ultra-Orthodox towards other, more progressive streams of Judaism. 
Dear Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, 

I am a strong supporter of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. As a supporter of Israel, I feel it my duty to voice my concern about the lack of religious freedom and Jewish pluralism in the country. Claiming to be an island of democracy in the Middle East, Israel’s government has a duty to protect its citizens from religious extremism. 

Israel’s Declaration of Independence ensures “freedom of religion and conscience” as well as equality for all. It is your responsibility to ensure that the country lives up to this promise to the Jewish nation. The majority of Israelis and American Jews do not support the current status quo of the ultra-Orthodox minority’s monopoly over religion in Israel. The continued favoritism of the ultra-Orthodox at the expense of secular Jews and other streams of Judaism is unacceptable and must be changed. 

The stronghold that the ultra-Orthodox has over religion in Israel unfairly impacts the day-to-day life of all Israelis – education, taxes, marriage, divorce, burial, kashurt, IDF service, housing, freedom to pray, women’s rights, subsidies. As an American Jew, it specifically disheartens me that the government does not equally support my stream of Judaism or accept the authority of my Rabbi, but yet asks me to support the country unconditionally.  

I urge you to be a leader for the equality of all streams of Judaism and that you demand freedom of religion for all Jews - not just with words, but with action. 

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