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A Chance at Defining a Judaism for Liberal Israelis

Street fights over prayer offer liberal Israelis a chance to define a Judaism they can believe in
Matan Golan / Sipa USA (Sipa via AP Images)
Matan Golan / Sipa USA (Sipa via AP Images)
Dr. Masua Sagiv is Scholar in Residence of the Shalom Hartman Institute based in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Koret Visiting Assistant Professor of Jewish and Israel Studies at the Helen Diller Institute, U.C. Berkeley. Masua’s scholarly work focuses on the development of contemporary Judaism in Israel, as a culture, religion, nationality, and as part of Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state. Her research explores the role of law, state actors

Israeli, observant Jews living in the United States, and especially here on the West Coast, are aware of the time difference between them and Israel at the beginnings and endings of holidays. While Israel celebrates — or commemorates — meaningful days, I’m behind, still preparing. So unlike my family and friends in Israel who observe Yom Kippur and found out only after their sundown what transpired on Monday in Tel Aviv, I read reports and watched videos of the clash between secular and religious Jews in Dizengoff Square as it unfolded.

Feeling both devastated by the ruining of Yom Kippur prayers and angry at the provocation and manipulation by those who organized the Tel Aviv services, I entered Judaism’s holiest day with a heavy heart and teary eyes.

And yet, in the days since, I also found some reason for hope that this painful moment was a watershed in Israel’s path, in which secular Israeli liberals may claim Judaism on their own terms, despite a religious establishment that sees Orthodoxy as its only legitimate expression.

Read the full article on JTA.

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