The article I am recommending below, came to me via the father & father-in-law of the couple who wrote it, Ariel and Erin Beery, who moved to Israel last year. They are expecting a daughter. Asked what I thought of it, this is what I wrote:
I agree with its sentiments 100%, however, I’ve always been ambivalent about Diaspora Jewry’s right to influence Israeli politics in spite of the fact they have been called upon to make contributions to Israeli social and health institutions, at the very least, if not more. I think Ariel and Erin are so right on. The fact that this piece has been published in Tablet is absolutely necessary. This is a leading edge magazine for young Jews, who, according to the most recent polls, are less involved in Israel. I think an article like this might activate them.
The following is the central passage of this article, which can be read in its entirety online:
…. Due to Israel’s coalition-based government system, where coalition partners are given control over ministries in return for voting as a bloc, governments from David Ben-Gurion’s to Benjamin Netanyahu’s have preferred to add an ultra-Orthodox, non-Zionist party to their coalition rather than create a coalition without parties such as United Torah Judaism. Such a non-ultra-Orthodox coalition could, in one vote, break the rabbinate’s power. But the major parties are stuck in a kind of prisoner’s dilemma: Each party fears that if it votes against Orthodox control, while the other does not, the Orthodox would ally with the opposition to crush it. So, the status quo persists.
In this context, our daughter will not be considered Jewish by the state. That’s because Erin’s mother had Conservative Jewish conversion in Canada before Erin was born, and because we decided it was insulting to ask Erin, who lived her whole life as a Jew, to “convert” just because a state-employed rabbi decided she is not Jewish enough.
We could not be married in Israel because of Erin’s official lack of Jewishness, despite the fact that we are observant Jews who keep Shabbat and a kosher home. (Our marriage certificate is from the state of Illinois.) Likewise, our daughter could in the future be legally barred from marrying the person she loves in Israel. If the laws continue as they are, the two of us will not be able to be buried in the same state-run cemetery, and our daughter would be excluded from burial in a Jewish cemetery when her life is spent. She’ll be a citizen, just as we are, and she’ll serve in the army, just as Ariel did. But if the status quo persists, she will go from cradle to grave knowing that in the eyes of the government of the state of Israel she is not a Jew.
For us, nothing is more painful. Our grandparents devoted their lives to supporting the state and its establishment, and we’ve devoted ours to building Israeli organizations
that have connected thousands
to Israel. But all of that is irrelevant in the eyes of the bearded men who have power over critical aspects of the lives of this country’s 6 million Jews.
This is not what the pioneers who founded this state worked toward, and it isn’t what generations of Diaspora Jews fought for.
It is time that the world Jewish community knew about this systemic bias in Israel—and time for Diaspora Jewry to act. …
This schism between who is a Jew in the Diaspora and who is considered a Jew by the state of Israel will only grow, considering that more than a quarter of Jewish students entering the first grade in Israel this year are ultra-Orthodox, as Dan Ben-David, director of the Taub Center in Jerusalem, has noted
. This means that if we want Israel to be a Jewish state for all the Jewish people, as well as a democratic state that respects the individual rights of its citizens, we have a small window to break the Orthodox monopoly on Israel’s core institutions. …