Religious Pluralism

Religious Pluralism

An indispensable link between the Jews of Israel and the Jews of the Diaspora is Judaism. It is the shared responsibility of both communities to nurture all forms and expressions of Judaism in the life of the Jewish people.

Most American Jews treasure the availability of plural identifications of the meaning of being Jewish today. The availability of choices for Judaic expression constitutes a core issue for them. Few issues evoke greater disappointment in Israel by American Jews than the lack of dignity accorded non-Orthodox rabbis, particularly the right to officiate at religious ceremonies and life-cycle events.

American Jews rejoice that Israel is a Jewish state and Israeli society is inherently Jewish. Greater numbers of Reform and Conservative Jews in Israel would undoubtedly bring about greater Jewish religious pluralism. Israel's own future Jewish continuity requires reconnection with Judaic heritage. For that reason, movements in Israel that provide additional vehicles for Judaic expression should not only be tolerated but encouraged.

Moreover, the conduct of American Jewish-Israeli relations ought to reflect the great concern American Jews place in the legitimacy of their particular religious expressions. Knesset legislation and statements of Israeli leaders need to refrain from delegitimizing Jewish religious leaders abroad. Both Israeli and American Jews ought to recognize the public observance of Jewish religious practices -- e.g. Shabbat, kashruth -- as expressions of historical Jewish culture. More generally, American Jews and Israelis are heirs to a common Judaic civilization and, accordingly, should strive to share the treasures of that heritage with a broader number of Jews.

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Date: 2/11/1995 12:00:00 AM