The Hotam Forum, a federation of of Torah-based research institutes, will distribute tens of thousands of brochures in synagogues this Shabbat on the subject of anti-family legislation in Israel.
Titled “Family on the Agenda,” the brochure is being distributed in honor of the Shmot Torah portion, which mentions the Jewish midwives who refused to abide by pharaoh's decree against male Jewish newborns. It focuses on Jewish family values, which are currently under harsh attack by various organizations.
The brochure includes articles enumerating some liberal items of legislation that have been advanced in the Knesset in recent years, including bills regarding surrogate motherhood, recognition of same-sex couples, making family courts the default venue for hearing divorce cases, and even a bill proposed by Meretz to remove any mention of a person's sex in ID cards, which the brochure says is part of an ideology of tearing down the traditional family.
It also includes an article with a rabbinical-medical viewpoint on issues of surrogacy.
The Hotam Forum has also formulated a bill of its own aimed at strengthening family values, which it intends to lobby for in the next Knesset along with other bills. The bill has not yet been revealed.
"In recent years, we are witnessing a fierce, well orchestrated attack on all of the family values in the nation of Israel,” said Rabbi Aryeh Katz, of the Puah Institute which is a member of the Hotam Forum, and which is named for one of the midwives in the Shmot portion.
“This attack is being carried out by extra-parliamentary NGOs, funded by external elements, which seek to weaken the nation of Israel, enjoying wide media support, and it leads to a situation in which those who seek to sound a clear, different voice in favor of family values are quickly denounced as benighted, uneducated fundamentalists.
"This attack,” continued Rabbi Katz, “has penetrated the heart of the Israeli parliament, and numerous laws intended to hinder the safeguarding of the intactness of the Jewish family have been proposed by different factions. These bills' goal is one: declaring the normative, regular family as one of many forms of families, all of which are 'kosher'. This erosion must be blocked.”
MK Moshe Feiglin of Likud established a caucus in favor of family values in the outgoing Knesset but faced stiff opposition and did not turn the issue into a central one in his parliamentary agenda – although he did speak forcefully about it on many occasions. MK Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan (Jewish Home) vowed to fight for family values but did not take visible parliamentary action on the matter, either.
Hotam's initiative comes on the heels of a Knesset that was ferociously liberal on family matters, and could signal that religious Zionism is ready, at last, to create a conservative political movement in Israel, with a lobby that provides a counterbalance to the liberal lobby. If successful, such a development is thought to be able to revolutionize Israeli politics on numerous levels.