JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Knesset held its first Jewish Identity Day to provide lawmakers with a Jewish outlook and context in the lawmaking process.
Lawmakers from across Israel’s political landscape supported Tuesday’s program, which was initiated by the Tzohar rabbinical organization as part of its Legislation Project.
Minister for the Diaspora and Public Affairs Yuli Edelstein of the Likud Party saluted the initiative at a special ceremony marking the day, saying that “Without Jewish identity, there is no real link between Israel and our brethren in the Diaspora.”
“Our goal is to help our lawmakers show that Jewish identity can serve as the ultimate guidepost in making Israel an international role model of integrity and values,” said Rabbi David Stav, Tzohar’s chairman and founder.
Stav cautioned that the initiative is not centered on Jewish religious practice but on social values.
“We are not here to say that Knesset members should abide by more strict interpretations of halachah or be coerced to make changes in how he or she lives their lives," Stav said. “Our objective is to show that values centered around Judaism and Jewish identity must become more deeply embedded in how Israel operates as a democratic society, and there is nowhere better to highlight this than in our national lawmaking body.”
At a special meeting of the Knesset Internal Affairs committee held as part of the day’s activities, lawmaker David Azulai of the Shas Party called on the Chief Rabbinate and the Interior Ministry to work together to better deal with issues of those recognized as Jewish by the rabbinate and yet refused citizenship by the ministry.