The current situation in Israel certainly reflects a dangerous view – that some Jews are not Jewish enough, or not even Jews at all.
Fifty years ago, Israel’s army captured Jerusalem’s Old City and its most famous landmark, the Kotel, which has become a potent political and religious issue.
Orthodox Jews seek to maintain it as a traditional prayer place with a separation between men and women, whereas Liberal and Progressive Jews want a space where all genders pray together and can read from the Torah.
Sadly following efforts, a negotiated compromise and a promised egalitarian prayer space, headed by Natan Sharansky on behalf of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ‘froze’ the matter amid much recrimination.
Israel remains the only democracy in the world where a very large number of Israelis – including many who had fought for the country – and my Progressive colleagues, are unable to access, in a manner acceptable to them and to us, the right to marry, divorce and be buried.
Through Israel’s proposed Conversion Bill is the threat to remove the right to convert to Judaism in a modern way, which is in accord with their thoughts and ways of life.
While the Kotel itself is merely an antiquarian relic, what happens there is deeply symbolic of how Progressive Judaism is viewed in Israel.
There is a real danger that what might have been a single national Jewish identity will become two Jewish peoples. For me that would mean the whole raison d’etre of Zionism will have disappeared.
Israel stands at a crossroads and has a choice – to become another fundamentalist theocratic backwater in the Middle East or remain a modern democracy like the UK.
Danny Rich is senior rabbi of Liberal Judaism