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August 21, 1964 - Image 19

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1964-08-21

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The Tnei Israel' Case

By Joshua II. Justman

(JTA Correspondent in Israel)
(Copyright, 1964, JTA, Inc.)

JERUSALEM — More than a
hundred members of the Bn ai
Israel community in Israel hav e
staged on one of Jerusalem's mai r.
streets a sit - in strike—which a t
the time of writing is entering it
third week—and about 2,000 of th e
country's 8,000 Bnei Israel Je w
last week converged upon the ca 13-
ital in a remonstration chargin g
discrimination by the Israel Rab
binate. The demonstration wa s
joined by a number of leadin g
Israeli personalities, and the op
position parties have deided to de
mand the holding of a specia 1
Knesset session to take up the is
Are the numbers of the Bne
Israel community really being dis
criminated against? Is the outcr y

during that period, is not one
single case did it bar a member
of the Bnei Israel community from
Indeed, there was no direct
reason for the matter to have ex-
ploded right now. The leaders
of the Bnei Israel community
say: we had waited and hoped
for its settlement but we cannot
go on waiting for ever; we did
not persevere in our settlement
but we cannot go on waiting for

ever; we did not persevere in our

Judaism for 2,000 years only to

encounter discrimination in the
State of Israel.
Soon after the sit-in strike be-
gan, the leaders of the Bnei Israel
were invited by President Shazer,
in whose presence Chief Rabbi
Itzhak Nissim proposed the pub-
lication by the Chief Rabbinate of
accompanying their protests just a statement declaring the Bnei
Israel community as Jews for all
The Chief Rabbinate vehement purposes, and stating that the dir-
ly rejects the accusations, and th e ectives regarding marriage procd-
National Religious Party has charg ure were applicable to all Jews
ed that the matter is being used a s coming from distant countries

a political weapon and as a mean
of undermining the authority of
the Chief Rabbinate. They point
out that, in fact, it was the Israe 1
Rabbinate that, two years ago
took the bold step to put down th e
barriers that for hundreds of year
stood bet w e e n the Bnei Israe
and the rest of Jewry.
According to their own tradi-
tion, the Bnei Israel came to
India from Palestine 2,000 years
ago. The first record available
dates back to the year 1835

when an emissary from Safed,

Rabbi Shmuel Abbo, reported
about the "Jewish tribe" that
lived there in ignorance of Jew-
ish laws and customs. However,
he, had no doubt about their
Jewishness and indeed the rab-
bis of Safed then ruled that they

ought to be accepted as full

The Indian Jewish community
accepted this ruling but the ban
on intermarrying with members of
the Bnei Israel remained and was
later fortified by a ruling of the
rabbis of Jerusalem and of Bagh-
dad. Their reason was the Bnei
Israel's disregard of the marriage
and divorce laws; specifically, they
did not formally divorce their
wives, thereby raising the possi-
bility of bastardy.
The Bnei Israel Jews admitted
that their marriage and divorce
customs differed from those gen-
erally practiced by Jews, but claim-
taht their divorced or widowed
women were never permitted to
remarry so that the question of
bastardy was not relevant.
The problem took on an acute
form when several thousand of
the Bnei Israel community moved
to Israel. Unlike India, where
they lived separated from the main
body of the Indian Jewish com-
munity, here the question of inter-
marriage arose soon after their ar-
Bound by earlier rulings, the
Israel rabbinate weighed the mat-
ter for some time, until two years
ago it reached a decision and an-
nounced its ruling which put down
the bar of intermarriage.

However, the Bnai Israelites
insit that they are still being dis-

criminated against by the direc-
tives that accompanied the Chief
Rabbinate's ruling of two years
ago; they admit that de facto
there is no discrimination, but
demand that the directitves be
The directives concern the in-
vestigation of family background
to be followed by marriage regist-
ars in the case of Bnei Israel per-
sons wishing to marry Jews of
other communities.
The Rabbinate argues that there
13 no discrimination involved
since such directives apply to all
Jews coming "from distant lands,"
meaning from lands where the
Jewish community was cut off
from the mainstream of Jewish
These directives have been in
force nearly two years, and the
Chief Rabbinate points out that,

alike and thereby make clear that
it was not intended to have the.
Bnei Israel singled out.
This proposal was rejected. The
leaders of Bnei Israel insisted that
this would merely mean the ex-
tention of the discriminatory dir-
ectiveness to other Jews as well.
That's where the matter stands.
The Chief Rabbinate feels it can-
not in matters of Halacha yield to
the presSure of demonstrations and
sit-in strikes, especially since it
went a long way toward meeting
the problem. On the other hand it
is argued that, once accepted as
full Jews, the Bnei Israel are right
in their demand to have no
"strings" attached to it, even if
the acceptance is only de facto.
There is no doubt, however, that
the issue raised now by the Bnei
Israel is being utilized by all those
who feel that the whole approach
of the Rabbinate in matters of
marriage and divorce ought to
undergo a revision and is thus part
and parcel of the wider and sharp-
ening dispute on the relationship
between state and Religion. In-
deed, only if thus viewed can the
intensity of the present controv-
ery be fullly appreciated.

Hussein, Nassar Discuss
Increased Jordan Strength

LONDON (JTA)—King Hussein
of Jordan, who is currently in
Egypt on what is described as a
one-week "private visit," is be-
lieved to have included the
strengthening of Jordan's military
position on the Israel border
among the subjects discussed with
Egyptian President Nasser, it was
reported from Cairo. The pro-
fessed aim of the discussions is
the establishment of close coop-
eration between the two govern-
ments, in preparation for the meet-
ing of heads of Arab states sched-
uled for September 5 in Alexan-

Hospital in Minneapolis
Gets Grant Foundation
Sinai Hospital has received an
award of $98,691 from the John
A. Hartford Foundation of New
York for a three-year project in-
volving studies in gastric physio-
logy under varying conditions, in-
cluding stomach transplantation.
Announcement of the grant was
made by Jay Phillips, president
of the hospital, and Ralph W. Bur-
ger, president of the foundation.
This is the second research grant
given to the hospital by this found-
ation this year. The foundation
has given Mount Sinai Hospital
$600,000 in recent years.





. signed

Charles N. Agree
Harry Barnett
Louis C. Blumberg
Morris H. Blumberg
Joseph S. Bunk
Avern L. Cohn
Morris Garvett
Charles H. Gershenson
Harvey H. Goldman
Dr. Samuel J. Levin
Malcolm S. Lowenstein
Milton M. Maddin
Benjamin Nucian

Royal A. Oppenheim
Max Osnos
Sigmund Rohlik
Prof. Lawrence IL Seltzer
Nate S. Shapero
Max M. Shaye
Abe Shiffman
Leonard N. Simons
Richard Sloan
Abe Srere
Louis Tabashnik
Paul Zuckerman


You gave serious thought to the man you send to Lansing


You made YOUR voice heard on matters vital to you


You voted for the man best QUALIFIED to represent you







8 Mile Rd.

H ollywood


Pharisee comes from the He-
brwe pharash, meaning "to inter-
pret" — or, according to some
scholars, "to separate." The Phari-
sees laid the foundation for rab-
binic tradition with their "inter-
pretation" of the Holy Law.

Ford Xway

Political Advertisement

Friday, August 21, 1964 19



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