Just Another Kosher Symbol? - Israel's Chied Rabbanut

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Resource Type: Peula in: English
Age: 6-15
Group Size: 5-30
Estimated Time: 90 minutes

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Resource Goal

As members of Bnei Akiva it is important to remember that we are Zionists. What is often forgotten, though, is that we represent the type of Zionism described as religious Zionism. That means that the Torah and all that it stands for is the central theme of our lives, whether or not we happen to be in Israel. Since Torah should be the dominating feature of any society we want to live in, religious leadership and the guidance and supervision is crucial to being a successful society built on the right foundations. This snif will delve into the importance of having religious leadership, specifically in Israel and in the form of the chief Rabbinate (Rabbanut Harashit).


Resource Contents


Topic:

The Rabbanut Harashit: What it is, its place in society, its significance and its effect on our daily lives.

Goals:

As members of Bnei Akiva it is important to remember that we are Zionists. What is often forgotten, though, is that we represent the type of Zionism described as religious Zionism. That means that the Torah and all that it stands for is the central theme of our lives, whether or not we happen to be in Israel. Since Torah should be the dominating feature of any society we want to live in, religious leadership and the guidance and supervision is crucial to being a successful society built on the right foundations. This snif will delve into the importance of having religious leadership, specifically in Israel and in the form of the chief Rabbinate (Rabbanut Harashit).

Background:

The way the Rabbanut in Israel functions is different from Rabbinical organizations all around the world. The basic difference is that Israel is a Jewish State and, therefore, Halacha is state law in certain areas and the Rabbinic courts (beit din) are equal to civil courts with regard to certain issues (see sicha for more information).

The Rabbinate is very complex due to the fact that it is divided between two separate but completely equal people: the Chief Askenazi Rabbi and the Chief Sephardi Rabbi. They are both needed due to the remarkable diversity of Jewish cultures found in Israel. The Ashkenazi rabbis continue the tradition of classical Eastern European rabbinate while the Sephardi rabbis maintain the traditions of the Jews from Spanish and African countries. Both rabbinates regenerate themselves from with graduates of the yeshiva system in Israel and maintain offices across the country using Orthodox rabbis.

Peulah:

Build Your Own Government

Congratulations! You are the newly elected Prime Minister of the State of Israel. After a tough campaign, the hard part has just begun; you now have to make all the difficult decisions. During your campaign you made many speeches and promises. One of them was to have a balanced budget and not lead the government into debt. In order to keep your budget down, you must keep the government small and therefore have decided that youll only have 8 members of Cabinet. Each one will have a portfolio but obviously, some important things will be left out.

To be a nation in the modern world there are certain necessities for a government. These are the issues that must be dealt with or the nation will be a shambles. Therefore, you already have decided on certain crucial portfolios: 1. Defense: 2. Health: 3. Finance: 4. Education: 5. Infrastructure: 6. Transportation: 7. Foreign Affairs. Thats already seven positions plus you as Prime Minister makes eight. You realize that you have a perfect Cabinet except for one thing: You left out the crucial portfolio of Religious Affairs.

You are a Jewish, religious Prime Minister in a Jewish state. How can you even contemplate running a government without a ministry of religion? You know that it is important but you promised to not go over-budget. The country has to run smoothly!

That is the scenario. However, why is it so important to have a Ministry of Religion? What do they do thats so important? Have a chanich\a volunteer to answer this question. Help them out by guiding them along. Some issues to consider are:

The Rabbanut Harashit is central in Israeli society. For example, they set Kashrut regulations for all of Israel. Even though there are still different opinions as to how strict to be regarding Kosher food, at least there is basic rabbinical supervision guaranteeing that all of Israeli society is eating kosher food (on some level) if they want. Imagine what our society would be like if we did not know where we could eat. Which shops could we trust, which restaurants would we be able to eat at? Every place would claim to be kosher but we would not know if they really are kosher. Imagine how difficult grocery shopping would be! Here in North America we know exactly what is kosher and what isnt because of the OU and other institutions. This way we know to stay away from stores that say they are kosher but dont have a teudah.

The Rabbanut Harashit keeps the Jewish people together. The law in Israeli society states that every marriage and divorce must be performed by a religious rabbi. Even more important, all conversions have to be done according to Orthodox halacha. This way, we do not run into problems of people being considered married or Jewish according to some groups but not others. In this way, the Rabbanut Harashit keeps the Jewish people Jewish.

So the Rabbanut Harashit does do important things. Still, does that justify expanding the cabinet to include the Ministry of Religious Affairs? Have the chanichim present each side of the argument and debate it amongst themselves. The side in favour can argue all the previously mentioned points that show the importance of the Rabbanut. The side arguing against expanding the cabinet has a slightly tougher time. Their basic argument is that the PM promised a balanced budget and is now going over-budget in the first week of office. Besides, the other ministries can take up the slack. For example, the Ministry of Education can make sure the curriculum includes knowing about kashrut and other important issues and can publicize what places are kosher. The Ministry of Transportation can make sure that streets are closed on Shabbat. The Ministry of Defense can help a lot because the IDF has its own rabbis who serve in military units. Plus, having an Orthodox Jew as PM will help set the tone of the country as an Orthodox Jewish state.

The argument for is a lot more compelling than the argument against, especially from the perspective of religious Jews. The point of the peulah though, is so that the kids grapple with this issue and realize the importance of having a Rabbanut Harashit.

Grades 1 3

This peulah was not very game based and that presents a problem for this age group. Also, the topic might be a little bit complicated for them. The main point here is leadership so resorting to an old game like Simon Says will illustrate that point very well. To insert the idea of Rabbanut Harashit, have some of the things which Simon says be related to Judaism. For example, Simon says you can get married, Simon says you can eat that sandwich. Then explain that just like someone makes rules for all sorts of things like playing baseball or driving a car, there are also rules in Judaism and it is that rabbis who learn the rules written in the Torah and then tell us what exactly we can and cannot due.

Grades 4-6

If the original peulah is on too high a level, help them relate to it by using their own experiences. For example, ask them why they have a Hebrew Studies Principal and a Secular Studies Principal (if they have one of each). Ask them what each one does and why you might need two people to do these jobs. You can also ask them what they think rabbis do in general. The point is to make them think about rabbis and why we have them.

Grades 7-8

The original peulah was intended for this age group. Another version of it which is more interactive is to give them a list of ten positions in the cabinet and have them select only six. The list could include: Defense, Finance, Health, Education, Foreign Affairs, Infrastructure, Transportation, Sports and Recreation, Religion, Environment. In this way there are some easy choices but eventually theyll have to exclude something important for running a country if they want to include a Minister of Religion. Have the chanichim justify their choice of cabinet members.



Related Resources can be found under:

» All > Judaism > General

» All > Judaism > Kashrut

» All > People in Bnei Akiva > General

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