Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Consequences of belief

To some extent I must admit that I feel superior to those believers who go to synagogue or church every weekend and pray to a God that does not exist.  They evade reality and are mired in ancient misconceptions and rationalizations.  No doubt they feel the same towards me, the white elephant in the room, so much easier to ignore and continue as before.
I have said previously that the religious underestimate the intellectual basis of non-belief in a god. It's true that they have more words (the various bibles) and more ancient words, but that's not what counts.  What counts is what makes sense, what is believable.  No group prayed more than the Jews for divine intervention on their side, but what did they get, the Holocaust.  It was the actions of non-believing Jews who were prepared to fight that brought about the existence of the Jewish State that ensured our survival, while most believers were against it.
Even though I am not a believer I enjoy participating in the Jewish holidays, they are our culture.  And Judiasm is more a religion of practice than belief, contrary to Christianity and Islam.  So I am in good company.  It is not chance that the secular Zionists who established Israel showed great tolerance for the religious beliefs of their fellow Jews.  But, recently this has been taken to excess, with haredi political parties enjoying great influence, preventing haredi youth being drafted into national service and obtaining special dispensation for their school systems.  The election of Yesh Atid which is avowedly secular, and the subsequent exclusion of the haredi parties from the Coalition Government has laid the basis for a change in Israeli culture.  Although the Jewish religion will be respectred, all Jews must be treated equally as regards national service and the educational core of their school programs.  This will go a long way to make Israel a more equitable society.
The changes that are anticipated will have significant effects on a minority of people who deserve to be treated with great respect.  I am referring to those individuals who wish to convert to Judaism or who regard themselves as Jews by right but have not been accepted or recognized by the Jewish rabbinical establishment.  The process of conversion or acceptance as Jews had been taken over by the most conservative of ultra-orthodox rabbis,  making life impossible for some. Some were even given orthodox conversions in the diaspora that were not recognized in Israel.  And this led to people being refused Israeli citizenship under the law of return because the Ministry of the Interior deferred to the Rabbinate.  It is about time this process was under Israeli civilian control and who becomes a citizen should be based on rational choices not narrow religious ones.  We hope these changes under the control of Bayit Yehudi will come about under the new Government and soon.


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