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December 23, 1988 - Image 46

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-12-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

COMMENT I

Dress Shop

HOLIDAY SALE

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RABBI RICHARD HERTZ

Special to The Jewish News

ALL MERCHANDISE

(excludes all cruisewear)

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FRIDAY & SATURDAY

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Sat. 10:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

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Diane Thibault, Owner/Operator

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46

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 23, 1988

Could A New Joseph
Stop Israel's 'Famine'?

New Clients Only

$5 00 OFF

$5 00

ANY HAIR
SERVICE
Except comb out
Participating operators only

MANICURES

Participating
operators only

T

he continuing story of
the Joseph saga
reaches its climax
with last week's sedra as
Joseph reveals himself to his
astonished brothers: "I am
Joseph, does your father yet
live?"
Joseph was the first Dias-
pora Jew. Born in Jacob's old
age to his favorite wife,
Rachel, Joseph the dreamer
finds himself in Egypt as a
slave. Yet he resists the sexual
advances of Potifar's wife. He
is cast into prison. Because he
can interpret dreams, he is
brought before Pharaoh,
solves his dilemma and winds
up becoming prime minister
of Egypt. He marries the
daughter of Pharoah and has
two sons with her.
Was Joseph Jewish? Were
his two sons Jewish? Accor-
ding to Halachah, Joseph was
Jewish because his mother,
Rachel, was Jewish (or was
she?). But Joseph's wife, the
daughter of Pharaoh, clearly
was not Jewish.
The question of their sons
becomes interesting because
of the debate now going in
Israel over "Who is a Jew?"
The debate has taken on bit-
ter political overtones. The
Law of Return, first adopted
after Israel became an in-
dependent state, declares that
anyone born of a Jewish
mother or who is converted is
a Jew, and therefore entitled
to automatic citizenship. On-
ly an Orthodox rabbi, not a
Conservative or Reform, may
officiate at such conversions
and find them acceptable.
The religious rigidity of the
Orthodox rabbinate has
become national news as the
head of Likud, Prime
Minister Yitzhak Shamir,
seeks to form a new govern-
ment. Lacking his own par-
ty's majority, he is turning to
the 18 seats held by the Or-
thodox to gain a majority of
seats in the Knesset.
The issue is not new. Only
this time, the balance of
power for forming a new
government by a coalition
rests with the Orthodox
parties.
And what is the price of
their participation in the new
government? A pledge to
amend the Law of Return,
close down the State of Israel
on Shabbat, have full control
over the purse strings suppor-

Richard Hertz is rabbi
emeritus of Temple Beth El.

ting the schools and yeshivot
and turn Israel into a
theocratic state under their
control.
As never before, the non-
Orthodox elements, especial-
ly the North American Con-
servative and Reform sup-
porters of Israel, are outrag-
ed by the Orthodox power
grab.
An Orthodox-supported
amendment would change
Israel's immigration law to
deny automatic citizenship
to those converted non-
halachically. Such a change
would, in the eyes of 90 per-
cent of affiliated Jews in the
United States, deligitimitize
them and alienate their
adherence. They are Jews
who love and support Israel
emotionally, politically and
financially. Prime Minister
Shamir, at last report, has
promised Israel's four Or-
thodox parties that he would
ensure passage of the amend-
ment by his new government
in exchange for their support.
The heat of anger over
Israel's political paralysis has
almost overshadowed the
diplomatic dilemma of West
Bank and Gaza territories.
Supposedly, that was the
policy issue to be decided in
the elections.
Although the Palestine
Liberation Organization has
declared an independent
Palestinian state with east
Jerusalem as its capital, the
Algiers Declaration is large-
ly a paper, one; the Palesti-
nians are still under the con-
trol of Israel.
Last August, King Hussein
of Jordan cast off the lifeline
the Palestinians held to Jor-
dan. Their money and sub-
sidies were cut off. The Jorda-
nian solution is no longer
viable. The Palestinians felt
rejected the abandoned by
their own brethren in the
Arab world who were pre-
occupied by the Iran-Iraq war,
The Palestinian uprising,
the intifada, got them
nowhere despite more than a
year of viiolence carried out
in broad daylight in the
streets. The Israelis
themselves are utterly di-
vided on how to deal with the
Palestinian problem.
In such a dilemma, the
stalemate in Israel's recent
election has given a unique
opportunity to the Orthodox
to fill the power vacuum.
Since neither Labor nor
Likud has anything near a
majority, each side had to bid
for Orthodoxy's 18 seats to
form a successful coalition.

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