Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Not sacrosanct

The obligatory classes on family purity which every Israeli bride must take are notorious turn-offs from religion, one of the major reasons why so many secular Israelis resent the Rabbanut. Today, the Rabbanut finally and officially ruled that the haredi women giving Kalla classes through them must stop haranguing secular brides about the 'correct' way to treat their husbands, why they must immediately become religious, etc. etc., and concentrate on what they are supposed to teach: the laws of family purity.
This is a positive first step, which -- one hopes -- will do something to alleviate some of the trauma associated with the ordeal for many brides (although I am sceptical whether women who have been teaching in a certain way for decades will really be able to change). The pity, however, is that this experience doesn't have to be merely 'painless' or 'neutral'; one wonderful organization, Tzohar, has shown it can be a downright positive and valuable encounter with religion, through true openness, respect and dialogue.
The fact the Rabbanut made this change after years of resistance, shows just how loud the protests must have become; perhaps they were also feeling the heat from Tzohar. Either way, the fact that this ruling was announced, particularly in a week when the religious parties look set to rejoin the government, is hopefully a sign they finally realize that they are not sacrosanct, and must shape up -- or else face the consequences.

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