Israel is celebrating her tenth anniversary of independence. In spite of handicaps, the little state has made phenomenal progress in the last decade. The population has almost trebled. In a Massachusetts-size area, Israel has managed to settle more than a million Jews since 1948, and most of these have been survivors of the Nazi holocaust, refugees from Arab countries, and immigrants from Eastern Europe.
It is true that half of the country is desert-like. Fewer than two per cent of the immigrants have had any agricultural experience, over half lack vocational or professional training, many are without means, and the problem of receiving and absorbing so many people from 70 countries that differ in language, culture, and tradition has presented a challenge. Great strides have been taken to alleviate a number of these difficulties.
For instance, Hebrew has become the national language, diversified industry has come into production. Oil has been discovered in limited quantities, and local agriculture is coming to provide 60 per cent of the nation’s needs. All these developments are the fruition of scientific research. With a spirit of sacrifice and hard work, rarely seen elsewhere in our day, Israel has arrived at her tenth anniversary with great credit.
Concomitant with statehood and progress in the secular field, however, has been the vexing question of what role religion would play in the state. Contrary to the prodigious changes sociologically and economically, religion has remained static and reminiscent of that in the East European ghetto.
Theodor Herzl, nineteenth century journalist, and the late Dr. Chaim Weizmann, chemist and statesman, had much to do with the actual founding of the Jewish state. Both felt that religion ...1
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