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They are not ‘others’ – they are a part of us

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Amid the segments of Israeli society that are widely known dwells a smaller population that ostensibly looks and acts like everyone else — its members pay taxes and serve in the defense of the country. They are excluded from key aspects of Israeli society, however, in an “othering” of people that has to end.

The State of Israel is home to many citizens who think of themselves as Jews, but who are not considered Jewish by Jewish law (halakhah), and therefore have always officially been designated “Other” by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). Specifically, the vast majority of this demographic are born to a Jewish father, but not to a Jewish mother. Of course, Arab and Druze Israelis have their own proud identities, but this population is not Arab or Druze either. Indeed, its members too often fall between the cracks.

The question of how to relate to those who have Jewish ancestry and want to be part of the People of Israel, when they are not halakhically Jewish, is not a new one. In the 16th century, Rabbi Moshe Isserles, a major figure in the world of Jewish law, speculated whether a son born to a gentile mother and a Jewish father could be considered “rabbinically Jewish,” even though the rabbis thought such a person was not Jewish according to the Torah itself. More........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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