Multi-Denominational Israel

The legitimacy of Orthodox Rabbinic Judaism has long rested on the narrative that it is the only legitimate denomination of Judaism when reality is quite different from the official Orthodox portrayal. The oldest Jewish denomination is the Crypto-Sumerian Mandaeism which is pre-Israelite and what is now Judaism technically only emerged as Atenism on a Crypto-Sumerian foundation as the narratives of the Torah are of Mesopotamian, i.e. Sumerian origin. 

The Northern Jurisdiction of Israel has long since diverged into multiple denominations and religious jurisdictions both inside the Middle East (i.e. Alawism, Alevism, Bektashism, Druzism, Samaritanism, Yarsanism and Yezidism) and beyond (e.g. Odinani Judaism, Maasai Judaism and Qiang Judaism). 

As crucially realizing the visions of the prophets of Israel requires welcoming the remnants of the Northern Jurisdiction of Israel, will Orthodox rabbis need to countenance that the reality of the extended Nation of Israel is and has indeed always been multi-denominational. This is not some invention of Reform Judaism but the reality in existence already for thousands of years. The Northern Jurisdiction of Israel has been separate since 930 BCE and Mandaeism has been jurisdictionally separate from Atenism/Judaism for thousands of years and was distinctive long before the emergence of Atenism/Judaism. 

While perhaps not apparent now will this reality become so with mass Aliyah of tens of millions of Median Jews from the Middle East and beyond. Orthodox Rabbinic Judaism will have to abandon its religious monopoly on Jewish religious services in Israel with full legal equality granted between all denominations of Judaism from Mandaeism to Jewish Renewal. Orthodox Jews are a minority in Israel and although Haredi (strictly Orthodox) Jews in the long term will become a majority in Israel will Median Jews become the majority in the short term with mass Median Jewish immigration to Israel in the coming decades.

The economic growth rate in Israel has been about 5% a year in the past decade and as largely driven by Israel’s high-tech sector which amounts to 40% of Israel’s exports is this rapid growth likely to continue in the coming decades. This is highly likely to make Israel an attractive destination for mass immigration for the assimilated, secularized and intermarried Western Jewry which by then will be largely not halakhically Jewish as per Orthodox standards. 

The unity of the nation of Israel requires that Orthodox conversions are made available for children with disputed Jewish personal status in Israel as millions of Western Jewry are likely to immigrate in coming decades out of economic motives in presenting new demographic challenges to Israel’s Orthodox rabbis. Yet the unity of Israel also requires accepting the millennia of reality of multi-denominational Jewish nationhood.

Published by Daniella Bartfeld

Daniella Bartfeld is the founding director of the Aliyah Organization

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