An essential part of the Israeli high school experience is the study of all the students’ rights and obligations as the citizens of Israel. This is taught during final three years of high school. It’s important for people outside of Israel to understand that here in Israel, we teach a variety of different approaches towards the Jewish state.
The first approach towards the Jewish state is as a state of Torah. The central idea is that Jewish law –הֲלָכָה- determines state law. Religious leaders are part of the leadership of this state. They suggest that Jewish citizens must be committed to fulfillment of the Torah commandments. In their belief, the full establishment of this state will happen only after the Messiah comes.
The second approach is of a national religious country – מדינה דתית לאומית. This differs from the concept above by being a Zionist state, with Jewish law public life at its core, but instead working in cooperation with the non-religious Jewish community.
In this state, not everyone is commanded to observe the Sabbath, but on that day, out of respect, businesses should remain closed, as is the common practice here today in most places.
The third approach is of a culturally Jewish state that supports laws which enable every Jew to come back to this land- חוק השבות. This state is secular; religion and Jewish law are not at its core. Everyone has the opportunity to decide their own beliefs in relation to Jewish tradition, history, practice and customs.
Which option would you choose from those three? In our next article, we will discuss several other approaches towards and understandings of the state.