Thursday, February 17, 2005

What is happening in Misrad haPnim (again)?

An interesting article in the Jerusalem Post relates the current situation of the Subbotniki -- a community of Sabbath-observing Russians, dating from a couple of centuries ago, who never formally converted to Judaism but adopted many Jewish practices. (The late former Chief of Staff, Rafael 'Raful' Eitan, was said to be descended from a Subbotnik family. Many Subbotniki settled in the Galil at the turn of the century, with the first and second Aliyyot, especially around Rosh Pina and the Huleh area. See this interesting site.)
The article speaks for itself. But again, on this as well as on a dozen other issues, the activities and policies of the Ministry of the Interior ('Misrad haPnim') seem to be working against the Israeli and Jewish mainstream. This Ministry has control of issues of citizenship and status in Israel. For the last few years, it has been given to Haredi parties (after decades as a Mafdal fiefdom), but PM Sharon has restored it to its former position. Current Minister is Ophir Pines-Paz, who is "Labour-Meimad" , and, to boot, a former Deputy D-G of the Jewish agency's Aliyah and Klitah depatrtment. He seems like a reasonable enough chap ... which makes the Ministry's attitude on this issue puzzling.
It raises, of course, the philosophical-ideological question of the attitude of the Jewish people and of the State of Israel to not-quite-Jews who really, really, want to be part of our nation, our people and our religion ...... ("Artzecha, moladetcha, u'bet avicha...." - as Genesis distinguishes them.) I'd, personally, vote for a more sympathetic attitude.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For more about Subbotniki, or Russian "Saturday-people" see: