One Rabbi’s Take on Israel

July 23, 2014

By Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz To Unify a Nation

MK Rabbi Dov Lipman has an amazing story. He was raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, became a rabbi and educator, made Aliyah, and became the first American-born Knesset member in decades. Even more remarkable, he has quickly become a symbol for bridge building. In his early 40s, he represents a broad vision for what Israel could be.

His new book, To Unify a Nation: My Vision for the Future of Israel is a must read for all concerned with the future of Israel. Less than 100 pages, the book can be read in just an hour or two. Significantly, President Shimon Peres wrote the opening statement, and Yesh Atid party founder Yair Lapid wrote the Foreword.

While Lipman comes from an ultra-Orthodox background and is an Orthodox rabbi, he offers a breath of fresh air when he suggests that “polarization caused by extremism and isolationism in the religious community may be the greatest internal threat to the future of the Jewish people” (16). In fact, it was on the streets of Bet Shemesh that he emerged in Israeli leadership. Many Israelis were horrified in 2011 when an 8-year-old Modern Orthodox girl was called a “whore” and spat upon while she walked to school, allegedly because her dress was not modest enough for the ultra-Orthodox. The terrified girl said that she was “so scared…that they were going to stand and start yelling and spitting.” Rabbi Lipman stood up to protect the girls against the abuse. Rabbi Lipman also speaks out against religious coercion in Israel, seeks to build bridges between the religious and secular, advocates for the Ethiopian community and for the African refuges, seeks to transition the ultra-Orthodox into the army and workforce, advocates for vegetarianism and animal welfare, speaks out against corruption, argues for women’s rights, a pluralistic society. Read the rest of this entry »