Tuesday, June 25

Corruption Cracks in the Chief Rabbinate of Israel

English: Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger עב...
English: Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger עברית: הרב האשכנזי הראשי לישראל יונה מצגר, Original Image Name:יונה מצגר, Location:Haifa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We are all aware of the ancient saying: "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts completely". This rings true in all the echelons of power where there are dictatorships or appointees with large powers that were given to them by the state. This holds true for religious power which becomes hegemonic. 

Many of us fail to admit that all religion was created by man, and not by a divine power, in this case- God. This is contrary to the beliefs of the three monotheistic religions whether it is Judaism, Christianity or Islam. If this is the case, religion will have the weaknesses inherent in man. Nobody is perfect and religion is not perfect either because it is man-made.

Religious people maintain that they strive to improve themselves in their relationship to their belief in God. For the purpose of this article, I refer to the monotheistic faiths, but from a wider context, this is true of all faiths.

The Catholic Church had a very severe problem of pedophilia with some priests for many years.  Many people came out of the cupboard and admitted that they were molested by pedophilic priests. This caused great damage to the power of the Roman Catholic Churches over their believers.

Where there is no separation of religion and state (by definition - separation of church, synagogue and mosque), there cannot be a true democracy.

In Islam, there are also religious leaders  with enormous power. In Arab countries, no separation of religion and state exists. Tremendous abuse of religious power is rife, not to mention the inhumane treatment of women. In Saudi Arabia, women are not even aloud to drive cars without a male chaperone as well as many other abuses to their dignity.

All organized religion not separated from the state lays itself open to become omnipotent and unquestionable to the private citizen. Everything is done according to God's will and this overrules the laws of state. Naturally rabbis, priests and imams wield tremendous powers amongst the faithful and view themselves as above secular law, whether sharia law or halacha depending whether the countries concerned are the Arab States or Israel. In the western countries where most of the population are Christian, there is separation of religion and state as well as freedom of faith and freedom from faith.

In Israel, in theory there is separation of religion and state but not in practice. Jewish People who are non-Orthodox by this I mean secular, Reform or Conservative may only get married in an Orthodox marriage ceremony which is meaningless to them. The rabbinates all over the country are under the aegis of the Chief Rabbinate and this includes every ruling from dietary laws (Kashrut) to marriages and divorce. So when people say that there is total religious freedom in Israel and nobody interferes with one's religious lifestyle. This is true until it comes to marriages, funerals and observances of Pesach, Yom Kippur and so on.

The Chief Rabbinate has become an institution of cronies, nepotism and cartels. It is involved in issues of "Jewish identity". Its rulings on who is a Jew is dependent on their interpretation of Halacha. They maintain that there is only one Halacha and non-Orthodox interpretation is unacceptable. Their attitude towards those, whose Jewishness is suspect, has created much hardship for these people not even allowing them to marry in a Jewish ceremony despite the fact that they are recognised as Jews in the Diaspora. Many Jews have been alienated from Judaism because of rabbinical rulings. The Israeli Rabbinate, with its enormous powers, has become corrupt and even the Chief Askenazi Rabbi Yonah Metzger is now suspect of a host of crimes such as laundering money, corruption and pocketing money from donations to charitable causes. Perhaps he sees himself as a charitable cause.

The moral behaviour of those in the Chief Rabbinate is deplorable and disgusting.  If we need any justification for the abolition of the Chief Rabbinate, it is in the behaviour of their rabbis and them digging their hands into the coffers of those who donated money to their questionable causes.

The alienation of the Jewish People as a result of the antics of the Chief Rabbinate will only increase especially after the demise of the Askenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger.

If one were to read the history of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, it is obvious that the philosophy and necessity of this institution is highly questionable to say the least and redundant at the most.
The Chief Rabbi is completing his tenure very soon and this is an opportune time to close down this institution instead of punting for Rabbi David Stav, who is considered a more progressive rabbi and a Zionist. I fail to see anything progressive in his observance of Halacha, which is in its essence not progressive and open to interpretation within very narrow limits.

 Of course, this is not the attitude of  Conservative and Reform Judaism to which Rabbi Stav will not be any more forthcoming than his predecessors should he be elected. He will try to coat Halacha with sugar in order to win back the secular Jew who has been alienated by rabbinical bigots of the past and present. Rabbi Stav is a honey-coated rabbi of the Tzohar Movement, but make no mistake, his claim to stick to Halacha in its entirety does not give us optimism for any change.

As far as the non-observant Jew is concerned it will be bureaucratic business as usual in the Chief Rabbinate. The blame for this must be laid at the door of apathetic Israeli citizens who have allowed this situation to occur. The solution to this problem is separation of synagogue and state and with that, the abolishment of this corrupt cartel of bureaucratic rabbinical authorities.

Another point that is very often overlooked is that the Rabbinate is not averse to racism against those who are not Jewish. Their tacit support of rabbis, of which there are no shortage, who disapprove of Israeli Jews renting out apartments to Arab students studying in Israeli Academic Institutions.

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