Israeli Values Religious Voices

Letter 71 - Rabbi Yael Golan

To the State of Israel and all its inhabitants,

As Israel turns 75, during a social crisis which threatens to unravel the delicate connections between us, I suggest we take a fresh look at our story. At the center of the model is “The Israeli Story", formulated by Dr. Daniel Marom, positing three questions: What did your parents and teachers tell you about being Israeli? What do you tell your children and students? If there is a gap, how do you explain it? This journey should be embarked on in as diverse groups as possible, in order to really listen to the different stories that make up the Israeli mosaic.

“The adult  person notices that his "I" has no limit in time. His desire to persevere directs his gaze as he discovers his "I" beyond his own life allowance…what all human beings in the chain of generations have created and what they will create, he felt like a creation that had fallen ill in him himself before and before his uniqueness; he feels the experiences that have come upon them and that will come upon them as his own fate that is happening within himself. His people's past is his own memory, his people's future is his personal role” (Martin Buber, from: “Judaism and the Jews”).

We live in a time of awakening and correction, of breaking dichotomies, and of growing affinity for Jewish tradition and roots. The crisis that is afflicting us is sparking an important discussion of the fundamental questions that underlie our existence. How should a Jewish and democratic state, in which there is a national minority that constitutes one-fifth of all its citizens, run itself? And what about the Palestinian people that are under our control in the areas of Judea and Samaria (West Bank)? What is the foundation for the partnership between the different parts of the society? What is the place of the big words in the declaration of Independence: “The State of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations”.

Are we committed to these values? Is it worthy that the Declaration of Independence will serve us today as a foundation for a constitution? If we act correctly, in the leadership and in the general public, the current crisis could be a moment of birth; a supervised re-establishment of our alliance. On the way to maintaining the miracle of our independence.


Rabbi Yael Golan

Rabbi Yael Golan is the co-leader of the Israeli Rabbinate network for Shalom Hartman Institute together with Hamidrasha in Oranim, facilitator and teacher of the LGBTQ Beit Midrash in Tel Aviv, teaches at “Bina” programs at the center of Israel and, former journalist and vice president of the Shacharit Institute. 

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