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Israel

 
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Israel

Orthodox Judaism

Within the Orthodox or dati category one can distinguish between the ultra-Orthodox or haredi, and the "modern" or "neo-Orthodox." At the very extreme, the ultra-Orthodox consists of groups such as the Neturei Karta, a small fringe group of antiZionist extremists, who reject Israel and view it as a heretical entity. They want nothing to do with the state and live in enclaves (Mea Shearim in Jerusalem and towns such as Bene Beraq), where they shut out the secular modern world as much as possible. Nevertheless, among the ultra-Orthodox one can also count some of the adherents of the Agudat Israel Party, who accept the state, although not its messianic pretensions, and work within many of its institutions. These adherents are exempt from compulsory military service and do not volunteer for police work, yet they demand that the state protect their way of life, a political arrangement known as the "preservation of the status quo" (see The Role of Judaism , this ch.). In practice, they live in the same neighborhoods as the more extreme haredi and maintain their own schools, rabbinical courts, charitable institutions, and so on. The state has not only committed itself to protecting the separate institutions of different Orthodox Jewish groups but also, especially since 1977, to their financial subvention.

The modern or neo-Orthodox are those who, while scrupulously adhering to halakah, have not cut themselves off from society at large. They are oriented to the same ideological goals as many of the secularists, and they share the basic commitment to Israel as a Zionist state. Furthermore, they participate fully in all the major institutions of the state, including the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). This group is also referred to as "Orthodox Zionists." They have been represented historically by a number of political parties or coalitions, and have been the driving force behind many of the extraparliamentary social, political, and Jewish terrorist movements that have characterized Israeli society since the June 1967 War (see Exraparliamentary Religio-nationalist Movements , ch. 4). Most Orthodox Zionists have been "ultra-hawkish" and irredentist in orientation; Gush Emunim, the Bloc of the Faithful, is the most prominent of these groups. A minority of other Zionist groups, for example, Oz Veshalom, an Orthodox Zionist movement that is the religious counterpart to Peace Now, have been more moderate.

Relations between the ultra-Orthodox and the neo-Orthodox have been complicated and not always cordial. Nevertheless, the neo-Orthodox have tended to look to the ultra-Orthodox for legitimacy on religious matters, and the ultra-Orthodox have managed to maintain their virtual monopoly on the training and certification of rabbis (including neo-Orthodox ones) in Israel. (The neo-Orthodox university, Bar-Ilan, as part of the parliamentary legislation that enabled it, was prohibited from ordaining rabbis.) Thus ultra-Orthodoxy has an aura of ultimate authenticity, a special connection to tradition that has been difficult for others to overcome. Even a staunch secularist such as David Ben-Gurion lamented during a confrontation that the ultra-Orthodox "look like our grandfathers. How can you slap your grandfather into jail, even if he throws stones at you?"

Data as of December 1988

 

Israel - TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • The Society and Its Environment


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