The Haaretz newspaper’s criticism of a new initiative in the Ministry of Religious Services just shows how important it is, says Rabbi Avichai Ronsky, former Chief Rabbi of the IDF.
The Ministry is establishing a new branch for Jewish Identity, to be headed by Rabbi Ronsky.
Haaretz quoted Rabbi Ronsky, but also quoted Conservative Movement leaders’ criticism of the new initiative as part of “the orthodox monopoly of religious services.” Conservative Movement head in Israel Yizhar Hess called on the Education Ministry to thwart the “dangerous” initiative.
Hess attacked Rabbi Ronsky as “an example of the most shameful type of narrow thinking” and “a representative of Jewish fundamentalism.” As IDF Rabbi, “Rabbi Ronsky turned the IDF Rabbinate into a practically missionary organization,” he accused.
Rabbi Ronsky was unconcerned by the Haaretz report of Hess’ criticism. “Haaretz is always opposed to anything involving Jewish national identity,” he told Arutz Sheva.
“The connection between religion and nationality bothers them, they think Judaism should deal only with interpersonal relationships and the way people relate to themselves, and not with national issues,” he continued.
The new Jewish Identity program will focus on informal education, he said. It will work with organizations such as youth movements, and will provide opportunities for study and for meetings between religious and secular Israelis.
The primary national issue facing today’s Jewish generation is the subject of the land of Israel, he said. “The number of attacks from the nations of the world over our renewed settlement shows that this is the central thing to focus on,” he said. “They need to understand that this is not ‘a state of all its citizens,’ this is a Jewish state in the land of Israel.”