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August 30, 2013

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PAGE 20A Fighting over J ewish pluralism iiiiiii( Flash90 Israeli riot police scuffle with haredi Orthodox Jews at the Western Wall plaza in a bid to keep them away from Women of the Wall's monthly prayer service at the holy site in While Jewish liberals seemed to have a good year, Orthodox leaders and institu- tions found themselves on the defensive. Israel's Ashkenazi chief rabbi, Yona Metzger, was ar- rested on suspicion of fraud and money laundering. Yeshiva University, the flagship institution of Mod- ern Orthodoxy, became the subject of a $380 million lawsuit by former students alleging that two rabbis who used to teach at the Y.U. high school for boys in the 1970s and '80s committed hundreds of acts of sex abuse. When Y.U.'s chancellor, Rabbi Norman Lamm, announced he was stepping down, he. apologized for mishandling Jerusalem, May 10, 2013. By Uriel Heilman NE'W YORK (JTA)--In 5773, the religious wars just would not go away. .In Israel, elections that ex- tended Benjamin Netanyahu's tenure as prime minister delivered big wins to two anti-Orthodox-establishment upstarts, Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett. For the first time .in nearly two decades, Israel's coalition government included no haredi Orthodox parties. The Israel Defense Forces took concrete steps toward ending the draft exemption for haredi men. Israel's Ministry of Religious Services agreed for, the first time to allow non-Orthodox rabbis to serve in communal positions with state-funded salaries. And the Reform and Con- servative movements finally broke through years of apathy to get the Israeli government to consider changes to the Or- thodox monopoly over ritual and prayer at the Western Wall--but there's been no movement beyond proposals. In the United States, Yeshi- vat Maharat, a New York school for women founded four years ago to train Orthodox female rabbinic authorities, gradu- ated its first class of Orthodox clergy, known as maharats. The Supreme Court granted federal benefits to same-sex couples and struck down a California law banning gay marriage in the state. ' 32 Win Top Honors from FL Art Education Association TPS students "discover their voice" working side-by-side with professional artists, photographers, writers, musicians, actors, and journalists. Join us for Open House Thursday, November 14 - 9:00 a.m. Wednesday, December 4 - 9:00 a.m. RSVP at TRINITYPRERorg/JOIN-US Tuition assislmnee is available. ;1.9 million awarded annually: ..................... ................. : 5700 Trinity Prep Lane, Winter Park, Florida 32792 321.282.2515 [he allegations when he was university president. The Satmar hasidic com- munity in New York became embroiled in its own sex scan- dal when it lined up to support an unlicensed therapist from Brooklyn charged with the repeated sexual assault of a female teenager in his care. Even after Nechemya We- berman was found'guilty and sentenced to 103 years in prison, the community's support did not waver. Rather, Satmar leaders inveighed against the victim and her supporters. A few days after the trial, a hasidic assailant threw bleach in the face of a community rabbi, Nuchem Rosenberg, who advocates for victims of sex abuse. But to extrapolate a sto- ryline or trend from these disparate events could be folly. For one thing, the Ortho- dox sex scandals might be more about the dawning of a new age. of reckoning on sex abuse than the prevalence of sexual misdeeds among Orthodox Jews. And for "all the triumphs that Jewish liberals saw this year, demographic trends suggest that the Jewish com- munities in the United States and Israel are growing less liberal. Data released in Janu- ary from the 2011 Jewish population study of New York showed that two-thirds of the metropolitan region's Jewish population growth over the last decade occurred in two haredi neighborhoods in Brooklyn. While there hasn't been a national Jewish popula- tion study in more than a de- cade, the data from America's largest Jewish community suggest that Orthodox Jews, with their high birthrates, will represent an ever-larger proportion of the American Jewish community. "The traditional population of American Jews has high fertility and the non-Ortho- dox population as a group is well below replacement level," New York University sociologist Steven M. Cohen, one of the researchers who conducted the study,.told JTA. aSo American Jewry, with no other change, will become increasingly traditional in the years to come." While fertility rates among non-Orthodox Israelis are not as low as those of American Jews, they lag far behind those of Orthodox Israelis. The relative size of Israel's HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 30, 2013 haredi community as a share of Israel's total population is expected to double by 2020, to 16 percent. In Israel, the culture wars between haredi and non- haredi have focused on the haredi draft exemption and the Orthodox Chief Rabbin- ate's monopoly over marriage. The haredi establishment has mostly succeeded in protecting the status quo on both those counts, not- withstanding changes in the draft law. And when the 150 or so electors charged with choosing new Ashkenazi and Sephardic chief rabbis went to . the polls in July, they rejected the reformist favorite David Stav and instead elected two haredim, David Lauand Yit- zhak Yosef, the sons of former chief rabbis.. In the American Jewish community, the battle has not been between denominations but over Jewish values. Is it a Jewish value to support the right of gays to marry or does the practice contravene. Jewish ethics? Should Jews be advocating for greater government funding for private religious schools or fighting the use of taxpayer money in non-public schools? Should Jews press Washing- ton to make a concerted push for Israeli-Palestinian peace or is such pressure right now not in Israel's best inte?ests? The divisions among Amer- ican Jews on these issues do not fall neatly along denomi- national lines. Meanwhile, the American Jewish political divide ap- pears slowly to be widening. Though Jews as a whole still skew heavily Democratic, in last November's election President Obama dropped at least 6 points among Jews from 2008, winning an esti- mated 68 percent of the Jewish vote. The 2012 election also usheed in a Congress with fewer Jewish members than at any time since the 1990s. The divides over politics and religion stood in sharp contrast to the relative con- sensus that held up through much of the year on interna- tional issues. There was practical Una- nimity on concern that Syria's civil war not spill over the bor- der, that instability in Egypt not turn the Sinai Peninsula into a breeding ground for Islamic militants, that Iran be prevented from acquiring nuclear weapons .capability, that the European Union en- force its decision to designate Hezbollah'smilitary wing as a terrorist organization. But external threats did not dominate communal dis- course in 5773. There wasn't the same public urgency on Iran as in past years. The Egyptian coup in July was less concerning for Israel than the 2011 revolution that over- threw longtime ally Hosni  Mubarak. The Israeli-Palestinian rela- tionship was marked more by the absence of progress than anything else--until U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry managed to coax both sides back to the negotiating table in July. There was a mini-war in Gaza in November 2012 that lasted eight days and resulted in the deaths of some 150 Palestinians and six Israelis, but after that Israel's border with Gaza was mostly quiet. Itwas tragedy in the United States that left the com- munity with_ lasting scars. Late last October, a massive storm surge generated by Hurricane Sandy battered communities, synagogues and Jewish schools up and down the Northeast coast. UJA-Federation of New York convened an emergency meet- ing to authorize $10 million for rebuilding efforts, many of which continue today. Outside of the United States and Israel, the big. Jewish stories included the banning of Jewish ritual slaughter in Poland and a new German law regulating ritual circumci- sion; a controversial exhibit at Berlin's Jewish museum dubbed "Jew in a box" and a new Jewish museum in Warsaw; a much-criticized deal between the Argentinean and Iranian governments to investigate the 1994 AMIA Jewish community center bombing; sex abuse scan- dals in Australia; concerns about far-right movements in Hungary and Greece, and the appointment of a new chief rabbi in England. There was some good news here: None of these stories were about major Jewish calamities. To be sure, the Jewish people suffered tragedies in " 5773- from natural disasters, from Gaza rocket fire. But for a people obsessed with survival and accustomed to attacks, the absence of mass casualty events in 5773 made it a remarkable year as much for what did not happen as for what did. Creating a just, caring and inclusive community - through education and outreach 851 N. 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