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Is Israel’s Jewish identity in tension with its democratic character? Critics of Israel claim that the Jewish state sacrifices its democratic aspirations in order to preserve its distinctive Jewish mission. In this article from 2010, Israeli law scholar and former Knesset member Amnon Rubinstein concedes that Israel’s liberal democracy would be enhanced by strengthening its […]

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Israeli society is threatened by an ideological, cultural, and political division that separates the religious and secular communities. Deeply held and diverging beliefs about God and the state are expressed through policy disagreements concerning Judea and Samaria, the allocation of welfare services, the power of religious courts, and much else. Despite these political differences, and […]

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Press play below to listen to the podcast, download it in the iTunes Store, or stream it via Stitcher.  In this podcast, Eric Cohen sits down with the legendary editor of Commentary, Norman Podhoretz, to discuss his 2007 essay, “Jerusalem: The Scandal of Particularity.” The ancient capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem, has been the essential center of […]

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In this meditation on religion and state in Israel, Naomi G. Cohen analyzes the proper role for religious law in the policies, procedures, and rulings of the Jewish State. One might think that government implementation of Jewish law would encourage a broadly Jewish culture that Religious Zionists would favor.  Instead, Cohen argues that a minimalist […]

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How should the Shabbat be observed in a Jewish and democratic state? In this 1992 essay, the political theorist Daniel Elazar considers the question, balancing majority will, individual conscience, consent of the governed, and subsidiarity. In considering the ways Israel’s many factions relate to the Shabbat, Elazar suggests local referenda can help move the state […]

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Rabbi David Stav on Jewish Unity

September 10, 2015 | By: David Stav

Through his leadership of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization, Rabbi David Stav has been at the forefront of debates over the relationship between religion and state in Israel, pushing for reforms in the State’s handling of marriage, conversion, and kashrut. Why is Tzohar focused on these issues? And how does he think about government’s role in religious life?

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As part of its ongoing series on “Jewish Ideals & Current Dilemmas in Contemporary Zionism,” the Tikvah Overseas Seminars hosted two of Israel’s leading rabbinic activists to discuss recent legislation regarding marriage and conversion in Israel. Rabbi David Stav, chairman of the Tzohar Rabbinic Organization, and Rabbi Dr. Seth Farber, founding director of ITIM, have […]

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As part of Tikvah’s advanced institute “The Case for Nationalism,” the participants heard from the great Jewish dissident, thinker, and statesman, Natan Sharansky. Sharansky discussed the ideas of his book, Defending Identity: Its Indispensable Role in Protecting Democracy; the problem of a world with “nothing to die for,” to quote John Lennon; and the complementarity of the […]

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The Haredi Future

December 29, 2014

Mosaic‘s December monthly essay confronts one of the key issues for Israel as it envisions its future: the status and role of Israel’s haredi population in Israeli public life. Aharon Ariel Lavi, a 2013-2014 Tikvah Fellow and a co-founder of the Shuva community on the Gaza border and of the National Council of Mission-Driven Communities, authored the […]

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A Jewish State?

December 2, 2014 | By: Haviv Rettig Gur and Daniel Gordis

A bill to formally define Israel as a Jewish nation-state has become a political flash point. Two Tikvah veterans, alumnus Haviv Rettig Gur and faculty member Daniel Gordis, have offered differing, nuanced takes on the political wisdom of the bill. Rettig Gur details how the idea of such an amendment to Israel’s Basic Law began in […]

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