On Memorial Day in Israel, a siren goes off for one minute, and for that minute, all secular Jews stand still to recognize the sacrifices of thousands of Israelis who gave their lives to establish and defend the State of Israel.

The Haredim, (a strictly Orthodox group of Orthodox Jews) demonstratively refuse to participate. They keep moving. This infuriates the non-religious.

I, however, stop and think, “Maybe the Haredim have a point.”

What is the point?

They see the establishment of the Israeli state as a mistake and Zionism as a threat to Judaism rather than a saving grace.

Do they have a point?

Now for those of you Israelis who are already getting upset and are ready to stop receiving and reading my blog, I beg you to stop and think. I am not saying that I agree with the Haredi: I am trying to understand them. That is all, OK?

To the Haredim, the establishment of Israel is a threat to Judaism as practiced for two thousand years. In a state, secular people can rely on secular reasoning instead of relying on Jewish values promoted in the Bible and in subsequent religious writings. They can simply follow the laws of the Gentiles, whether those laws stem from the Napoleonic or the Ottoman or the British code.

From the perspective of the Haredim, secular Zionism has kind of preempted the reasons to practice Judaism religiously, in an orthodox way. Now, by virtue of being an Israeli Jew, you are “Jewish enough” already: there’s no need to be a Haredi to be Jewish.

I suggest that the Haredim perceive the state and all those who died to make it a reality as a threat to Judaism.

If, God willing, Israel disappears one day a thousand years from now, what would happen to all the secular Jews? What then would keep them Jewish? While Israel exists, the flag and the anthem provide an identity, but without the state, what would happen to their Judaism? You can already see it happening in the diaspora with some secular Israelis who decided to leave the country back to the diaspora.

I went to a synagogue on Yom Kippur. There were guards at the entrance, secular Israelis. I understand Hebrew, and I heard these guards mocking these Jews at the synagogue. They were calling them “Yeedalah” from the word “Yids,” the derogatory name Jews were called in Germany. Many secular Israelis I know in America go and have a barbeque on Yom Kippur. They take a day off, but not for the synagogue.

What will happen to their children? Will they remain Jewish? How? What will identify them as Jewish unless anti-Semitism comes to our rescue… and what a neurotic solution that is.

I am for religious Zionism, for practice the religion but also believing in the state of Israel. The religion is the (A) and the (I). The medina, the state, is the (P) and the (E). We need both.

Just thinking,
Ichak Kalderon Adizes