katsav.jpgI knew TM couldn’t hold back

Well, Katsav is a Sephardic Jew. They don’t know Reform Judaism from geffilte fish. In most Sephardic households, regardless of their level of practice, Reform Judaism is viewed as a foreign movement that does not speak to their spirituality or history at all.

There are a couple of issues here. Yoffie stated that he was not going to attend a reception at the President’s home because of Katsav’s refusal to addres him as Rabbi. The Jerusalem Post notes that there was no reception scheduled that week that Yoffie had been invited to. So what’s that all about? He feigned indignation at not being properly addressed at a meeting that wasn’t going to happen?

I mean by all indications, Katsav has met before with Reform Rabbis without incident. Furthermore, the aforementioned Jerusalem Post article also notes that

Proof of the president’s regard for the Reform Movement is evidenced in the significant role that it plays in the World Jewish Forum that he initiated. Yoffie and other Reform leaders were invited to the founders’ meeting and Hebrew Union College President Rabbi David Ellenson, who is a member of the forum’s steering committee, is listed with his rabbinical title.

I personally wouldn’t call Yoffie a Rabbi either. I just can’t call someone a Rabbi who counsels his flock to eat non-kosher food and violate the sabbath and all the other things Reform Judaism believes in officiates in a temple with a non-kosher kitchen and sabbath parking lot and who suports many of the tennets of the Pittsbut\rgh Platform. You can call him Rabbi if you like, but I won’t. But forget all that stuff. Yoffie violated cardinal rule numero uno in the ck book of Thou shalt nots – namely, thou shalt not make idiot and innapropriate holocaust analogies with people you don’t agree with unless said people were actual Nazis or in the midst of perpetrating a Holocaust.

Last November in Houston, the esteemed leader of 1.6 million oops, I mean 1.5 million (and counting) Reform Jews blasted conservative religious activists in a speech, calling them ‘zealots’ who claim a ‘monopoly on God’ while promoting anti-gay policies akin to Adolf Hitler’s.

Now, y’all know I am no fan of Conservative anti-Gay crusders, to say the least. But to say that their policies are akin to Hitler’s? That analogy serves only to diminish horror of the Holocaust. I don’t care how right you think your cause is, there is no excuse for that kind of base ignorance and mean spiritedness.

The title Rabbi is an honorific one. Amongst the things it conveys is respect for the bearer. Sorry, but I have very little respect for Yoffie. This little publicity stunt of his does nothing to raise his stature in my eyes.

In an editorial by Larry Derfner (who?) in the Jerusalem Post, President Katsav was derided as expressing offensive and even idiotic opinions about Reform Rabbis. But even Derfner (who?) notes that all this is actually good for the reform movement:

Actually, I think the president has done Reform and Conservative Jewry in America a favor. Let’s face it – they’re bored. They can do or not do anything they want in their synagogues, and nobody will even raise their voices at them. They go their way and the Orthodox go theirs. Between America’s separation of religion and state, and all that tolerance, the Reform and Conservative over there, unlike those over here, can’t get into a fight to save their lives.

In Israel, the Reform and Conservative are on the barricades. In America, they’re on the golf course.

But this week in Jerusalem they’re protesting and their rabbis are giving interviews. They’re underdogs fighting for a noble cause. It’s terribly exciting, and this could only happen to them in Israel.

And the man they have to thank is President Moshe Katsav. Whoever the hell he is.

Snarky commentary aside, Derfner has a point. This little imbroglio has given these dudes a nice platform. The press is interviewing Yoffie, his constituency gets to see him be all leaderly and tough with no less than the President of a Sovereign state. For the Reform movement, it’s a PR bonanza!

I would urge Yoffie to enjoy it now while he can. Perhaps a few more people will even know who he is, but the long term effect of this will be nil. Remember, he’s head of a movement of 1.5 million Jews and 900 Temples in North America. Do the math. That’s an average of 1,666 members per Temple. When was the last time, besides during Yom Kippur or Rosh Hashana, that you saw even 166 people attending services at a Reform Temple? I think Yoffie and the movement that he leads have far more serious problems to worry about than whether or not some politician addresses him by the title Rabbi.

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ck

Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.

94 Comments

  • Awesome post Dude. You see all the good little liberals will blast the Pres. for not singing Kumbaya. He is not afraid to stand up for what he believes. The question, is, is he causing harm to the state or not.
    Israel needs all the help it can get. It needs every tourist who will visit, and visit again. It needs people to support institutions and causes. This will possibly alienate many. So the jury is still out on this one.

  • Perhaps Rabbi Yoffie seeks to (re-)energize Reform Judaism by raising the spectre of the nasty Christian God-monopolists poised to consign the First Amendment into the dustbin of history. What a disappointing set of remarks– reminiscent of recent ADL riffs on the same theme.

    Is it easier to define yourself, and rouse your followers, by manufacturing threats and bogeymen? Or, focus on the hot-button issue du jour and shelve the rest of one’s doctrine and purposes?

    The rabbi may want to check on how this has worked out for mainline US Protestant denominations, which are losing followers in droves to evanglical Christianity.

    As for the gay issue: a classic instance of political correctness, i.e. the effort to delegitimize an opposed point of view through, among other things, ad hominem attacks, guilt by association, and– especially for Jews– that old standby, the Hitler analogy. Ugh.

    Hitler was nice to his dog, admired Rembrandt and Bruckner, and forebore from meat. Guess that makes me a Nazi. Sorry, Rabbi.

  • Hey Dave, is giving yourself cancer with cigarettes in line with Jewish law? If it’s wrong to get a tattoo because it desecrates the body, it would stand to reason that an Orthodox guy like yourself would refrain from a potentially suicidal habit along with pepperonni…. then again, I smoke too, but I don’t try to come off as Frummer Than Thou when there are cracks in my armor. (I do, however, Cummer on Thou.)

  • I just want to address one thing “…who counsels his flock to eat non-kosher food and violate the sabbath and all the other things Reform Judaism believes in.”

    The Reform movement does not counsel members to eat non-kosher food or to violate the sabbath. We recognize both tradition and free-will.

    As an individual in the Reform movement, I have the responsibility to study the mitzvah and decide for myself if they have meaning or if I will follow them.

    The counsel wouldn’t be, “Eat pork” the counsel would be “Study the laws and decide for yourself and let me help you understand the laws.”

    While my rabbi might give me guidance, he does not tell me what I should or should not do. In a nutshell, within the reform movement, “Those who keep kosher, can not tell those who do not, they must. Those who do not keep kosher, can not tell those who do, they must not.”

    And we have people in the reform movement, but are also very observant.

  • As I understand this story:

    1) Katsav has been, by all accounts, polite and cordial to Reform and Conservative leaders.

    2) This thing about not addressing them as “Rabbi” is some random thing he got into his head, not a political point that anyone else has been insisting on. (Until now, anyway.)

    3) Yoffie’s comments about the Christian right were offensive and moronic, but offensive and moronic doesn’t disqualify one from smicha.

    So, who cares?

  • When was the last time I saw over 166 people at a Reform Shabbat service? Hmm, about a month ago when the rabbi invited an Israeli journalist to speak. Oh, and there were probably 300 people at the Yom Hashoah Shabbat service a few weeks before that. This past Friday there were “only” about fifty of us plus kids for a family service and vegetarian potluck meal (out of a congregation of 250 families). Surprisingly, the rabbi did not force us to eat pork or work the next day. And to think I joined a Reform temple for the all-you-can-eat bacon cheeseburgers and shrimp tempura at the onegs…

  • I knew TM couldn’t hold back

    But I did hold back. I mean, there are an average of two or three stories about this in every Israeli Internet news publication, but we aren’t discussing it at all. I didn’t discuss it either, just had a little mild fun.

    However, since you bring it up in your lengthy post, you state that there are a couple of issues here and list them, but then proceed to miss the key issue: Katzav is President of the Jewish state, filling a ceremonial position, not an elected one, as head of the state and all its people. The function is also, by law, a diplomatic one and involves interaction on the diplomatic level as the key representative of the state of Israel. He represents the state in its contact with outside leaders of the world and unquestionably with Jewish groups outside of Israel. It’s not his place to make religious determinations, it’s his place to welcome all Jews as part of the Jewish nation and to do so respectfully and with the same spirit in which Israel was created. Reread the part in the Declaration of Independence about freedom of religion.

    This story is not that complicated, really. It’s also not surprising. However, you forgot to mention the North American Orthodox rabbis who have spoken out that Katzav has done wrong here. You also didn’t mention that Katzav mistakenly used the excuse that the Knesset needs to pass a law first which would accept Conservative and Reform rabbis’ status when the state already accepts the status of such rabbis as long as they do their leading outside of Israel.

    I also fail to see the meaning of the comments about how this was a manufactured crisis. It wasn’t manufactured at all, it has been ongoing. Yoffie chose a moment when the JA and the Zionist Congress were gathered and his comments could have greater impact. I don’t think he did it for self-aggrandizement, although energizing the base is certainly a by-product of what he did.

    Why ignore 1.5 million Jews, plus another million + Conservative Jews by dismissing them and their leaders? Is that really what Israel stands for, and is that really what Israel wants?

  • It doesn’t matter if there are only 10 Jews spread out over 150,000 temples, I have been to tiny Orthodox congregations and have attended numerous minyans where they had to pull in a straggler off the street to get the minyan. I mean, if we really want to count, then 1.5 million is probably 75% of all of the Orthodox Jews in the world.

  • Leah – how many Reform-affiliated camps have kosher kitchens? How many Reform synagogues which have kitchens have kosher kitchens? How many Reform yeshivot are there or Reform-affiliated Jews study in order to be able to make an informed decision? They claim that the ideology is “study the law and choose to follow it” (which, while I have problems with that) yet the Reform movement doesn’t provide the education needed for informed decisions nor does it provide the facilities for those who choose to obey specific mitzvot.

  • I just wanted to comment that I don’t know who EV above is and I don’t know if EV’s comment is serious or sarcastic but I find it revolting if it’s serious.

    Oh, and Mr. Yoffie is just that. He isn’t a rabbi because he neither practices nor preaches Judaism. One need not calculate synangogue census figures nor stick one’s nose into camp kitchens to arrive at such an obvious conclusion.

  • First off, #9, EV. Excommunicate all non-Orthodox Jews now. Very intellectual post my friend, its similiar to many posts I see on kabobfest which advocate Israel’s destruction, but supply little facts or unbiased information pertaining to why such a destruction is necessary. Mr. Jewlicious, I have agreed with most of your posts, and love your site. One question though, Orthodox Jews, you included, have a certain arrogance because you keep kosher and don’t work on the Sabbath, I respect this highly, but there are so many other laws which you don’t follow on a daily basis. Another thing I admire is your very pro Israeli stance, but wasn’t Israel founded by secular Jews who don’t follow all of the rules of the Torah, isn’t this also somewhat hypocritical?

    Much Love.

  • ck- what are you doin’ here, dude? You’re usualy pretty balanced in your criticims of the reform & conservative movements- but here you’ve tipped right over the edge of that cliff and are executing the perfect free-fall with that counsels his flock to eat non-kosher food and violate the sabbath and all the other things Reform Judaism believes in routine.

    Having belonged to a reform congregation waaaaay back in my history, I can attest to lots of things that were awry, but no rabbi ever insisted that I eat ham sandwiches for lunch on Saturday. As Leah correctly points out, the movement is about allowing people to discover which mitzvot are meaningful to them. While I personally don’t subscribe to that ideology, I can attest to the fact that there are kashrut and Shabbat keeping Jews in the movement.

    Compare that to my experiences with Chabad and Orthodox groups, where orthoprax “observance” is alive and well, and you’ll find people driving to shul and stopping for lunch on the way home from Yom Kippur services. But hey, their rabbi is really a real rabbi, so that’s where they go. Quick note: I’ve met many Sephards in these places. While they may flock to Chabad and Orthodox shuls, their observance consistently lags behind that of the observant reform congregants. Just sayin’.

    My point is that every congregation and every person needs to be seen not as representative of a movement, but as representative of Judaism. In any congregation, you’ll find a high percentage bof people who are there, not because they identify with the politics of the movement, but because their family davened that way, it’s the only shul in the area, they have great kids’ programs, the rabbi is approachable, the community is wonderful… The actual ideology of a movement takes a back seat more often than you’d guess.

    That said, Pres. Katsav was wrong. It was not his right to decide if Rabbi Yoffie deserved his title or not. Could you imagine the fallout if foreign officials decided to refrain from calling him “President” due to ideological differences? And by opening this can of worms, he may have alienated himself from the $$ donated annually by the million-plus congregants who, despite not being religiously active, still feel a high affinity towards Israel (seems there were a few on your last Birthright trip, or were the girls wearing mud & bikinis Beis Yaakov girls gone wild?)

    You might want to think this through a little more.

  • It was sarcasm, bitches.

    But, sadly, a miniscule variation on the tenor of this post and comments.

  • Jon C.,

    One question though, Orthodox Jews, you included, have a certain arrogance because you keep kosher and don’t work on the Sabbath

    We Torah true Jews are not arrogant by calling a spade a spade. Whether a Jew eats only the most kosher food in the world or can’t resist his evil inclination to eat a lobster dripping with butter, changes nothing as for as Judaism itself goes.

    I respect this highly, but there are so many other laws which you don’t follow on a daily basis.

    What person does not sin?

    Again, you are incorrectly equivalizing Jews and Judaism.

    Another thing I admire is your very pro Israeli stance, but wasn&’t Israel founded by secular Jews who don’t follow all of the rules of the Torah

    Wasn’t the world created by G-d?

    Wasn’t the land of Israel promised to the children of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’acov.

    Is it or is it not a divine miracle that Am Yisrael is back in Eretz Yisrael?

    Now, why did G-d arrange to let us back in with such a tremendous influence of non-observant Jews? Great question. I have my theories, which I will keep to myself. Hint: the theories are not complimentary to religious Jews, of which I am one.

    isn’t this also somewhat hypocritical?

    What is?

    Tom, I believe the Pope has excommunicated me by placing my email address on his kill list.

  • I think Yoffie and the movement that he leads have far more serious problems to worry about than whether or not some politician addresses him by the title Rabbi.

    I couldn’t agree with this more. This reminds me of a poll released that showed that American Jews think that antisemitism is the greatest threat to the future of American Jewry, when the actual facts point to assimilation as the greatest threat.

    This is a glaring perception problem. Conservative and Reform Jewish leaders need to stop dilly-dallying about popular & trendy causes, and start to roll up our sleeves and get to work on the uncomfortable and hard work of saving American Jewry.

    Oh, and ck? I think it’s more appropriate to call President Katsav a Mizrahi Jew, no?

  • Will the Orthodox eventually take over Israel from the secular/non-religious Jews? Do you believe Israel should be run by Orthodox Jews? Do you consider Conservative and Reform Jews as Jews? if we are all sinners how can one branch of Judaism be better than the other? Are you more holy than I am?

  • Jon C.,

    Will the Orthodox eventually take over Israel from the secular/non-religious Jews?

    Maybe and that doesn’t necessarily mean that things will be better.

    Do you believe Israel should be run by Orthodox Jews?

    That’s what a great part of the Torah is all about – living a Torah life in Eretz Yisrael.

    However, I see very few Torah Jews today that qualify to take on such a task. We are much like the rudderless ship mentioned in our Yom Kippur prayers. As a rule, we get what we deserve.

    Do you consider Conservative and Reform Jews as Jews?

    Anyone whose maternal line of ancestry was Jewish is Jewish.

    On the other hand, what’s known as “Conservative” and “Reform” Judaism is not Judaism.

    This is what I meant before when I said that “you are incorrectly equivalizing Jews and Judaism.”

    if we are all sinners how can one branch of Judaism be better than the other? Are you more holy than I am?

    For all I know, you will have a greater share of the world to come than me or maybe I won’t have one at all, heaven forbid. Each Jew is judged by G-d individually.

    When a philosophy of Judaism advocates sinning as an integral part of Judaism, that philosophy, or branch of Judaism as you call it, is no longer Judaism.

    So, you can have atheist Jews and Hindu Jews and Jews for Jesus Jews and Reform Jews and Conservative Jews. What they all have in common is that all these people might be Jewish but none of them are practicing Judaism. Yes, 2 of them are adhering to at least some deviant form of Judaism but it is not what G-d commanded us to follow.

  • Both the Conservitive and Reform movemnets have adopted various theological and idological stances that are anti-torah and often heretical (documentary hypothesis, un-binding of halacha, ordination of homosexuals, patralinial decent, etc.) How could a Torah-Jew possiblt refer to one their leaders as Rabbi (lit. My teacher), their ordination and postition is meaningless to a Torah-Jew.

  • I hate hyperbolic Hitler comparisons, too. But looking at the Boston Globe article you linked to as a source, I don’t think Yoffie is necessarily guilty of that sin. Although the reporter suggests in the lead sentence that Yoffie was comparing social conservatives to Hitler, I don’t see any evidence that he was making a direct comparison. Yoffie was simply noting a historical fact about the way the Nazis treated gays.

    Also, I have my strong differences with the Reform movement–including many you and I probably share, CK–but Yoffie is someone I respect. Indeed, Yoffie has led the push for greater traditionalism in the Reform movement–quite the opposite of your suggestion that he encourages eating treyf. And the Reform movement’s turn toward traditionalism has even been applauded by Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, the Novominsker rebbe and leader of Agudath Israel of America.

  • Hmm, funny. How many people on this board would advocate the stoning to death of adulterous women? Anyone? Anyone? (seriously, anyone??) I mean, has ANYONE on this post never eaten or drank to excess??

    Personally, literally for just myself, I do not see how someone could claim to live a Kosher life and still support the ways in which animals are slaughtered en mass in today’s factory slaughterhouse system. But that is just how I view that issue, and I do not consider myself any more kasher than someone who isn’t a vegetarian.

    My point is that we ALL pick and choose which mitzvot we follow and those that we realize are outdated, archaic or just plain cruel. And sure, we should all be worried about assimilation, it really is the great existential problem facing our people. But I have got to say, being Frummer Than Thou is the precise reason why so many people have turned away from their religious communities.

  • Mr. Katsav acted like a jerk. How does that sound: “Mr. Katsav”? If I meant it, it would be stupid. If I can call a woman rabbi – and I do so about every week – he can suck it up and call Rabbi Yoffie by his title. Show me a “real” rabbi in the past thousand years that has real “smicha” and perhaps then we’ll talk.

    On the other hand, what’s known as “Conservative” and “Reform” Judaism is not Judaism.

    I agree, but neither is what you call “Orthodoxy”. The closest thing to Judaism would be the Conservative movement up to around 1960 CE with the “sweetening” of adding some of the modern “liberal orthodox” thoughts on the participation of women in the service (e.g. Shira Hadasha). Once the progressive forces in Judaism broke off beginning about 150 years ago, both of the remaining “sides” (“Orthodoxy” vs. Conservative/Reform/whatever) were doomed to be radical fringes of a formerly (usually) rational center. That center position had always – and I do mean always – allowed a slow but certain progression in the understanding of halacha as influenced by external needs of Am Yisrael. Sometimes, when necessary, the changes were fast and furious – but that’s what was required to transform a former sacrificial temple-based cult into modern rabbinic Judaism, because it was time to either change or die off completely. At times, I find myself wondering if that isn’t true today as well, given the small percentage of Jews that believe and act like religion (of any flavor) has a place in their lives, but that’s another discussion for another day.

  • Adam,

    Very well put. But for many people, self-righteousness, and the obsession over who walks as justly as them, and the fervent castigation of the “enemy from within,” is a more spiritually uplifting exercise than, say, turning themselves into better human beings.

  • Dangit, why did I put my last name in without thinking about it? Now I’m going to have Chabadniks with a Mitzvah Tank and shochets outside of my apartment protesting me…

    I tottttally agree EV. And the thing is, by offering choice and free will it really challenges one as to the reasons WHY he or she would or would not do something as opposed to just doing it out of habit or pure obligation. So yes, while I do wear a kippah, it is not out of a sense of obligation, but because I have thought it through and it has meaning. I keep shabbos because it is special and holy and meaningful and not purely because of a dictation. And in that process of meaning, is one not bringing him/herself closer to G-d?

    And this isn’t to ignore the issues that I have with the Reform movement (I mean, I have issues and problems with every movement). It is just the height of hypocrisy and self-aggrandizement to play ultimate judge. Most often I feel like it is an individual’s attempt to transfer his or her own struggle or insecurity onto someone else.

  • I dunno, ck – this anti-liberal Judaism rant sounds like sour grapes to me.

    And (not so) shy guy? If he had been around at the time of the Roman revolt, he probably would’ve been a member of the priestly caste, desperately clinging to the vestiges of the Temple Cult as Judaism was radically REFORMED by the remarkable genius of the newly-emergent rabbinic class, later know as the tannaim.

    Reform and Conservative Jews aren’t practicing real Judaism? Perhaps in the same way that only experts in the mazurka and gavotte are “really” dancing, while those crazy kids with their modern (aka last 250 years) moves are just deviant dancers at best.

  • If we’re going to criticize the implementation of the Reform movement’s “choice through knowledge” philosophy, we also have to be prepared to decry the gaps between other movements’ philosophies and reality… like how most conservative Jews aren’t observant of halacha (even with the conservative progress in halacha), or how there seem to be a good number of orthodox Jews who will obsessively avoid spinach or romaine lettuce, but conveniently ignore ethical laws and principles, such as … oh, I don’t know… lashon hara? Or is it not lashon hara to say very bad things about whole groups of people? Don’t forget, it’s lashon hara even if it’s true.

    Adam’s point is excellent. We all pick and choose. We’re all working on living a Jewish life guided by Torah and our traditions. It’s time to stop trying to make ourselves look good by making other Jews look bad. Accept that God is the ultimate judge, practice ahavat yisrael, and stop hiding behind the labels.

  • We have here once again the phoney revision of Jewish history, claiming that the Tana’im made up the Mishna and the Amoraim the Gmarah.

    Until the reform and conservative movements came along and started revising Jewish history, no one had ever heard of “Rabbinical” or “Temple (cult)” Judaism.

    This pulp fiction was concocted by reform and conservative Jews to justify their non-Jewish movements.

    A lie told often enough becomes the truth. – Vladimir Lenin

    Adam, the Torah says adultery is a capital crime. That includes both men and women, BTW.

    If you don’t like the Torah or think that it’s not the absolute word of G-d, just say so. Which again, proves the point that deviant movements like reform and conservative are not Judaism.

    Be honest. You claim that parts of the Torah can be ignored or that keeping the Torah’s mitzvot are up to personal choices (ignoring the “Na’asseh Ve’Nishma” that made Israel worthy of receiving the Torah at Sinai to begin with) or that the Oral Torah is man-made. No problem. But those are the things that defined Judaism from its inception.

    If you want to believe in something else, go right ahead. But it isn’t Judaism.

    No one here, or at least myself, has mentioned anything about Mr. Yoffie being or not being a good person. The discussion is about associating him with the term “rabbi.” Since he does not advocate living a life according to the Torah’s commandments, he’s not a rabbi. When the Novaminsker Rebbe complimented Yoffie’s efforts, did he call Yoffie rabbi? I don’t think so.

    Kol Isha, you make the same mistake that others above have made. Judaism forbids Lashon Harah. Torah believing Rabbis do not advocate violating the Torah. These same Rabbis are subject to temptation to break commandments. What Judaism is all about is to strive to achieve perfection, as dictated by the Torah. No one, however, expects people, even the saintliest, to get there and not to stumble numerous times along the way.

    What was it Chazal said? Lo Alecha Ligmor et Hamelacha.

    Regarding the labels we are speaking about here, it was not the Torah observant Jews that broke away from anything. The labels were created by those who rebeled against Judaism. And once again, it is most important not to equivalize the words “Jew” and “Judaism.” One can be a Jew, though they do not practice Judaism.

  • Hoooey! OK, I gues I have to go comment by comment here…

    Steves Rick: I think of myself as a “good little liberal,” well, maybe not so little but definitely good. I just don’t believe being President means you have to compromise your beliefs.

    Marty: Heh. I never said I was the poster boy for Orthodox Judaism. I don’t claim to be frummer than anyone else. I believe certain things, as is my right, and that’s that. Others are free to believe in whatever they want to believe. I’m not even going to touch anything else you’ve written. My only question now is, when are you coming back to Israel you sick, sick, fuck? Email me and I think I can hook you up.

    Leah: You are absolutely right. I apologize and will correct the post. Regardless of their individual level of kashrut, I don’t know of any Reform Rabbi who would actively encourage anyone to eat treiff. I will also acknowledge that in all likelihood, there are tons of Reform Jews, legions even, that are more observant than I. The question is though, what happens if after sufficient study and contemplation, a Reform Jew decides to be 100% Kosher – can he or she no longer eat at the Reform synagogue, or send their kids to Reform summer camps because of the lack of Kosher facilities? This isn’t a dig – I’m really curious about how that works.

    JSinger wrote: “offensive and moronic doesn’t disqualify one from smicha” – is it any wonder then that amongst Haredi and Hassidic Jews, the english word and title of “Rabbi” for anyone is often-times scorned and derided, because in their view the once-lofty title of “Rabbi” has been debased in modern times. Hasidim and Haredim will therefore prefer using Hebrew names for rabbinic titles based on older traditions, such as Rav, Harav, Moreinu Ha Rav etc. Just food for thought.

    Kayla: Again, forgive my perhaps overly snarky tone. I promise I am nothing but thrilled that you belong to a busy and active congregation. I know your Rabbi would never force feed you treiff or make you violate the sabbath. But the figures are still there. National Jewish Population surveys show that there is a significant and worrisome decrease in institutional affiliation amongst Jews. Despite what the Reform movement says, the fastest growing Jewish movement is not Reform Judaism – it’s unaffiliation. Despite my issues with Reform Judaism, I’d still much rather someone attended a Reform Temple than have no connection to any community at all. Hence my admonition to Reform Judaism’s leadership to worry more about that than about a silly cat fight over titles.

    TM wrote: “It’s not his place to make religious determinations, it’s his place to welcome all Jews as part of the Jewish nation and to do so respectfully and with the same spirit in which Israel was created.”

    But we do make religious determinations all the time. Katsav would, for instance, never meet with a Rabbi from Jews for Jesus, or representatives of Jewish Wicca despite Judaism’s long historical association with paganism – look at nevi’im, it’s crazy!). Katsav’s job is to represent the Israeli government. Given the well established diplomatic status of say, the Papal Nuncio, itwould be ok to address the representative of the Vatican by his title. Reform Rabbis however do not have any recognized diplomatic status. Katsav I feel has always sught to walk a fine line between according these Rabbis a modicum of respect while still trying to stay true to his personal beliefs. All written communications coming out of the Presidents office refer to reform Rabbis by their title. From a realpolitik perspective, Katsav’s move was ballsy, some would say even stupid. But – and this is unusual, some might say even commendable for a politician, it was sincere. As for thhe tiny Orthodox minyans, the fact remains that more Orthodox Jews attend services than non-Orthodox Jews. I’m not saying one is better than the other, but simply that this trend towards les organizational affiliation, like synagogue attendance or any other communal activity, is worrisome and ought to be at the top of the agenda for all Jews.

    amechad: your response to Leah was spot on. What does a Reform Jew who wants to keep kosher do? What resources are avaiable to a typical Reform Jew who wishes to make an informed decision? I ask because I admit that I don’t know.

    Shy Guy: Dude. That’s harsh. In Pirkei Avot it says the following:

    He who learns from his fellowman a single chapter, a single halakha, a single verse, a single Torah statement, or even a single letter, must treat him with honor. For so we find with David King of Israel, who learned nothing from Ahitophel except two things, yet called him his teacher (in Hebrew: rabbo — meaning his “rabbi”), his guide, his intimate, as it is said: ‘You are a man of my measure, my guide, my intimate’ (Psalms 55:14). One can derive from this the following: If David King of Israel who learned nothing from Ahitophel except for two things, called him his teacher (i.e. rabbo — his “rabbi”), his guide, his intimate, one who learns from his fellowman a single chapter, a single halakha, a single verse, a single statement, or even a single letter, how much more must he treat him with honor. And honor is due only for Torah, as it is said: ‘The wise shall inherit honor’ (Proverbs 3:35), ‘and the perfect shall inherit good’ (Proverbs 28:10). And only Torah is truly good, as it is said: ‘I have given you a good teaching, do not forsake My Torah’ (Psalms 128:2). (Pirkei Avot 6:3)

    So, what I’m suggesting here is a little les self righteousness and a little more moderation.

    Jon C. (comment #12): I’m sorry if I come off as arrogant. I really do try to temper my criticisms with as much humility as possible. Simply put, I don’t believe in Reform Judaism. That’s my right. Why should i call someone a Rabbi if I don’t believe what they believe, at all? And in this case, I am also offended by some of his public pronouncements. What do you want me to do? I mean I am sorry, I wish things were different, but that’s really the way it is for me and many more of my correligionists. I know some Orthodox Rabbis have bristled at Katsav’s reaction. I know the term Rabbi means many different things – formal ordination is not always neccessary. As long as one has a significant following who consider the person in question their Rabbi, then that person may indeed be a Rabbi. Arguments like that and arguments that call for Jewish unity over comparitively unimportant titles may resonate more with me, but so far, no one’s making those arguments.

    Judi (comment #13): I hear ya. And you may havea valid point. I already conceded the point about counseling congregants to eat treiff etc. That was hastily written and I fully admit my ignorance. But riffing off the last paragraph, shouldn’t those who deride Katsav – rather than use this incident to voice protests that further divide Jews – shouldn’t they take the high road and a) try to work something out quietly with Katsav and/or b) be less vociferously offended because the higher value is to not create divisiveness amongst Jews? I dunno – food for thought there…

    #17 Taltman: Mizrachi or Sephardic, whatever. What’s important is that our food is yummier.

    Jon C (#19): If demographic trends continue, the influence of the Orthodox in Israel will only grow. One’sdenominational affiliation has no bearing on whether or not one is a Jew. I’m not trying to say that I am better than anyone else. I fully concede that there are in all likelihood many Jews who are not Orthodox, who have more of a connection or zechut with God than I do.

    Daniel (#23): I too, like Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, the Novominsker rebbe, applaud the Reform movement’s incorporation of more traditional elements in their practice. Iknow the new refom prayer book was designed with some prayers that make no reference to God so that atheists or agnostics coud feel included – and I can’t pretend to understand that – but there are other things (like hebrew literacy being required of Reform Rabbis getting their smichah from HUC for instance) that I think are fully commendable.

    Adam: Again, I don’t claim to be holier than anyone. I do take umbrge with the notion that because Torah Jews have stuckto their principles, many Jews are leaving organized religion. I think the reasons for growing lack of affiliation are more complex than that.

    Kol Isha (31): I agree with you. Individual practitioners of any stream of Judaism, including Torah judaism, often don’t properly practice or embody the values promoted by their belief system.

    OK. I’m wiped out. Believe me, I love you all – in an entirely appropriate way – and my challenge to you ll who disagree with me is to expres your disagreement in a clear manner that doesn’t neccesarily denigrate me. That’s what i usually try to do, with mixed success clearly …

  • Shy Guy, the point is that there isn’t a single person in this world right now who is Jewish in the same way that our sages and ancient ancestors were. That is undeniable. Orthodoxy, heck even Hasidism — for as much as Hasids claim to be authentic Jews, it is a distinctly modern , 18th century, Eastern European movement. Their attachment to Yiddish is their own interpretation of how to live a Jewish life, and that’s fine, but that doesn’t make them any more authentic than someone who speaks English, Ladino, French, etc…And, yet, you did not answer my question. Do you believe that an adulterer should be put to death? If no, and you believe that Torah is the absolute infalliable word of G-d, then you are in a really difficult intellectual position. If yes, well…you certainly have that right. I suppose my point is that it is entirely possible, nay, it is actually perfectly compatible to believe in Torah and understand the ways in which human beings have shaped it. And further, it is even possible to see that human dimension as G-dliness.

  • Ck, regarding your siting Pirkei Avot 6:3’s mention of Achitofel, may I suggest you carefully read Respecting Torah Teachers and be careful not to speed-read through the nuances. 😉

    Also, do not stray from the simple pshat. Achitofel was still not a rabbi by profession and no one else called him such.

  • CK, don’t be so quick to withdraw your comment about reform rabbis not counsiling people to eat treif. Read up on how the reform movement got its start in the US w/ the first graduating class of HUC’s “Treifa Banquet”. Read the original pittsburgh platform.

    Yes, they’ve changed over time, but one has to really question a movement whose fundamental beliefs change so drastically multiple times over a relatively short period of time (just over 100+ years) to ask “what exactly do you really believe”?

    Adam: it’s not a real difficult intellectual position. If you actually knew talmud, you would know 2 things.

    1) they considered a court that punished someone with only once every 70 years. (i.e. killings weren’t common 2000 years ago)

    2) that when they had to kill people more often, they took it out of their power to kill. Not that its no longer a sin, but that they determined that the power god gave them to punish people with death was no longer a good enough deterent, so that the cumulative harm that would come upon the people involved in the punishment was less than the benefit derived from actually carrying out the punishment, so basically said to god, “we can’t punish them anymore, we leave it in your hands”.

  • Adam, where do we begin?!
    Shy Guy, the point is that there isn’t a single person in this world right now who is Jewish in the same way that our sages and ancient ancestors were.
    Why not? Says who?

    That is undeniable.

    I just denied it. That was quick!

    Orthodoxy, heck even Hasidism – for as much as Hasids claim to be authentic Jews, it is a distinctly modern , 18th century, Eastern European movement.

    What mitzvot did Hassidism drop? Which of Maimonides’ 13 principles did they discard?

    Their attachment to Yiddish is their own interpretation of how to live a Jewish life,

    Vus is dus? When did the Torah forbid reading, writing and speaking in Yiddish – or Chinese, for that matter? What are you talking about? Tell me, in a nutshell, what’s the difference between Hassidut and Mitnagdut? Funny how no one ever seems to mention the latter.

    and that’s fine, but that doesn’t make them any more authentic than someone who speaks English, Ladino, French, etc.

    There’s something we agree upon but so what?

    And, yet, you did not answer my question. Do you believe that an adulterer should be put to death? If no, and you believe that Torah is the absolute infalliable word of G-d, then you are in a really difficult intellectual position. If yes, well – you certainly have that right.

    I thought my answer was understood. It is yes.

    Of course, you know that the Sanhedrin itself abolished capital punishment some 2500 years ago. Allow me to quote the relevant texts from this Wikipedia entry:

    So, at least theoretically, the Torah can be said to be pro-capital punishment. It is not morally wrong, in absolute terms, to put a murderer to death …However, things look rather different when we turn our attention to the practical realization of this seemingly harsh legislation. You may be aware that it was exceedingly difficult, in practice, to carry out the death penalty in Jewish society …I think it’s clear that with regard to Jewish jurisprudence, the capital punishment outlined by the Written and Oral Torah, and as carried out by the greatest Sages from among our people (who were paragons of humility and humanity and not just scholarship, needless to say), did not remotely resemble the death penalty in modern America (or Texas). In theory, capital punishment is kosher; it’s morally right, in the Torah’s eyes. But we have seen that there was great concern—expressed both in the legislation of the Torah, and in the sentiments of some of our great Sages—regarding its practical implementation. It was carried out in ancient Israel, but only with great difficulty. Once in seven years; not 135 in five and a half. (Rabbi Yosef Edelstein, Director of the Savannah Kollel)

    In practice, however, these punishments were almost never invoked, and existed mainly as a deterrent and to indicate the seriousness of the sins for which they were prescribed. The rules of evidence and other safeguards that the Torah provides to protect the accused made it all but impossible to actually invoke these penalties…the system of judicial punishments could become brutal and barbaric unless administered in an atmosphere of the highest morality and piety. When these standards declined among the Jewish people, the Sanhedrin…voluntarily abolished this system of penalties (Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan in Handbook of Jewish Thought, Volume II, pp. 170-71).

    I suppose my point is that it is entirely possible, nay, it is actually perfectly compatible to believe in Torah and understand the ways in which human beings have shaped it. And further, it is even possible to see that human dimension as G-dliness.

    Yes and no. The chachamim had the power to establish a Rabbinic legal command that abolishes a positive commandment via the principle of “shev v’al ta’aseh” – “sit and don’t do (it – the commandment).” This, for example, is the case with capital punishment, as well as why we do not sound the Shofar on Shabbat, as examples.

    We in this day and age no longer have the right to establish new takanot. Most importantly, in every case where the Chachamim did cancel a commandment, its essential goal was to prevent other violations of the Torah, not to cater to the whims of people who want to do their own thing or create designer renditions of Judaism.

  • CK-

    Thanks for correcting that statement. I don’t know what a family who keeps strictly kosher does about camp or about congregational meals. I’m a single lady without kids and my friends don’t have camp age kids, so I just don’t have an answer.

    I was thinking about this post while I was in the shower this morning and wondering if my shul shouldn’t add miztvah study to the adult ed options. There are a few Torah study groups and hebrew groups, but what about mitzvah study. An in depth look to help people make those decisions…

    I think I’ll write my Rabbbi.

  • “We Torah true Jews are not arrogant by calling a spade a spade”

    Who does this sound like? One hint..50

    That’s right, 50 Shekel!

    50 Shek has infiltrated this blog disguising himself as an mildly intolerant, definitely holier than thou type!

  • Shy Guy,

    I agree that it is a really slippery slope towards “designer renditions” as you so aptly put it (I mean, half-Jewish? Has anyone ever met a half-Muslim?).

    A few points…

    Which of Maimonides’ 13 principles did they discard?

    Umm, do I really have to point out that the Rambam’s commentary on the Mishna was written some time in the 12th century? I think you just proved part of my point, MM is a perfect example of just how we are constantly studying and interpreting Torah (and, in fact how our perception often changes, as many prominent medival Jews initially rejected MM).

    So you believe that there are people who are “authentically” Jewish in the sense that they live a Jewish life in the way in which our ancestors did. But here’s part of my point…there is no way for us to truly and completely understood how our ancestors lived their lives. And no, I am not saying this as a trained Talmudist (umm, ignoring for a moment that the Talmud itself is a testament to the human spirit and how it can enhance Torah), but as a historian I have to tell you that it is nearly impossible to get an entirely accurate re-telling of events, people, etc…from 10 years ago, or even 10 days ago. It’s one of our inherent limitations as humans, our memories are flawed, we tend to romanticize, see things through our own specific spectrums. So if our collective memory of recent events is skewed and/or varying, can we truly know what that “authentic” Jewish life is? And even if somehow an agreement was reached among all Jews, would we ever truly know if it ever even existed ni the past?

  • Elon, thanks for your 2 cents.

    Adam,

    I agree that it is a really slippery slope towards “designer renditions” as you so aptly put it (I mean, half-Jewish? Has anyone ever met a half-Muslim?).

    A jew cannot be half Jewish. A movement or a philosophy can.

    A few points…

    Which of Maimonides’ 13 principles did they discard?

    Umm, do I really have to point out that the Rambam’s commentary on the Mishna was written some time in the 12th century? I think you just proved part of my point, MM is a perfect example of just how we are constantly studying and interpreting Torah (and, in fact how our perception often changes, as many prominent medival Jews initially rejected MM).

    The RAMBAM was known for his codification of Halachah. Why don’t you delve into learning the RAMBAM to discover that he bases himself solely on existing Torah concepts and laws.

    He was rejected by several scholars at the time because certain specific concepts and philosophies of the RAMBAM appear to conflict with Jewish ones.

    What the RAMBAM codifies is what the Gmarah teaches, which is an expansion of the Mishnayat, both of which contain the Torah She’B’al Peh, which was given by Hashem to Moshe at Har Sinai.

    Next………….

    So you believe that there are people who are “authentically” Jewish in the sense that they live a Jewish life in the way in which our ancestors did. But here’s part of my point… there is no way for us to truly and completely understood how our ancestors lived their lives.

    It’s called Mesorah.

    The possibility of lost, misunderstood or misconveyed halacha is discussed in several places in the Talmud and Medrash. In short, we must do what we have been taught is correct, even if a heavenly voice (Bat Kol) should tell us otherwise.

    And no, I am not saying this as a trained Talmudist (umm, ignoring for a moment that the Talmud itself is a testament to the human spirit and how it can enhance Torah),

    Those might be complimentary words about the Talmud but that is not its essential purpose.

    but as a historian I have to tell you that it is nearly impossible to get an entirely accurate re-telling of events, people, etc… from 10 years ago, or even 10 days ago. It’s one of our inherent limitations as humans, our memories are flawed, we tend to romanticize, see things through our own specific spectrums. So if our collective memory of recent events is skewed and/or varying, can we truly know what that “authentic” Jewish life is? And even if somehow an agreement was reached among all Jews, would we ever truly know if it ever even existed in the past?

    How on earth does this justify the reform and conservative movements, which were concocted on zero foundations of prior understandings, customs and doctrines of Judaism?

    As to the reliability of Mesorah over 1000’s of years, you will find much more consistancy than the opposite if you would learn Torah, Mishnah Gemora, Halacha and compare what you’ve learned with how observant Jews continue to carry it out to this day.

    So far, the only thing you’ve pointed out is that Jews didn’t speak Yiddish 2000 years ago and I’ve pointed out the irrelevancy of that fact.

  • ck, thanks for sharin’ the love. Big shomer negiah e-hug comin’ your way.

    You asked about what happens to people who discover mitzvot that are incompatible with their continued membership in a reform congregation. I know, because I lived it. We ended up leaving the congregation, and ultimately the community. In the beginning, we saw all the positive things about that place- the commitment to children’s programs, to Israel, to the Hebrew school. It didn’t hurt them that they were the only congregation for dozens of miles. But ultimately, we needed more than they had to offer, so we left. And we’ve been very happy to be a part of a lively conservative-orthodox community for several years.

  • And now is where I take myself out of this conversation because it is getting no where and you aren’t listening (well, reading, but listening) to anything I have to say. I’m not looking for a lesson in Talmud or Midrash, or anything else; there are plenty of sources for me to explore to better understand these. This whole exchange proved my entire point that instead of exploring, as I was attempting to do, those married to a strictly halakhic interpretation of life do nothing but attempt to belittle everyone else’s knowledge of halakha. And thus why so many people turn away from such a life.

  • I’ve responded to your every point and they have been disproven. I’ve rebutted your every claim. But if it makes you feel better, you won.

  • My whole point is there need be no “winner” or one person who is right or wrong. And we are just coming at this from disparate views of the philosophical process, and that is fine. I just don’t feel the need to get into an intellectual pissing contest with you, as you attack my credibility as a Jew rather than analyze historical and social trends. It was never my intent to disprove anything that you wrote or believe, but to challenge, explore and debate them. I have no greater grasp on the “truth” than anyone else. But that’s the thing, you were trying to win rather than accept my p.o.v. as just as valid.

  • as you attack my credibility as a Jew rather than analyze historical and social trends.

    actually, you’re the one who hasn’t analyzed historical and social trends.

    historical – view the founding of the reform movement, both in Europe and the US. see how those founders viewed halacha, compare how your view of halacha compares to theirs. If it’s different, ask the question was there view legitimate?

    social – as CK has mentioned, if one analyzes social trends, one sees that the only “movement” of judaism that is seeing growth is “orthodoxy”, why is that? To quote Echad Ha’am “more than the jews kept the sabbath, the sabbath kept the jews”.

    Basically, history has shown us that for those who don’t have fidelity to halacha, the reasons for being jewish fall away, and they disappear. What fidelity means is up for debate, but the reform movement by definition doesn’t feel one needs fidelity to it (its up to each person to decide…), and to the conservative movement its a very amorphous concept which also hurts ones fidelity.

    at the end of the day, would it all be hunky dory if we could all sing (with apologies to barney) “I am good, you are good, we’re a happy family”, but that’s not 100% true. While I can accept individuals who affiliate reform or conservative or whatever to be “good people”, I can’t accept their views of judaism to be correct in any shape or form. The only shame is that there aren’t more “orthodox” congregations that appeal to the less religious crowd, as its one thing to be less religious (or non religious at all), its another thing to pass off ideas that are traditionally viewed as heretical as “Judaism”.

  • Why can’t something be wrong? Where’s the proof of your point?

    Where did I attack your credibility as a Jew? Right now, I’m only able to attack your reading comprehension. Look back and see what I said to everyone here regarding the words “Jew” and “Judaism.”

    And if you indeed meant that I attacked your Judaism (or more specifically, the variety advocated by Reform and Conservative movements), then what of it? Their whole foundation is based on Sheker.

    As for your “historical” and “social trends” “analysis”, you have yet to explain why I haven’t refuted them. Tell us again about how the Yiddish/Chinese/French languages proves that Judaism allows diversification and alteration of its religious tennets?

    You asked for a challenge, you debated and you were responded to with contrary fact. So, now what have you proven?

    This isn’t about winning. This is about truth and our purpose in life and how to achieve it.

    Apparently some people cannot cope with the truth. It would require a self examination and confession that things that they have held as correct and dear for a lifetime are as weightless and empty as chaff in the wind.

    Why is a POV valid when it’s not based on facts? Because you want it to be? That doesn’t make it true.

  • Ultimately, it comes down to being confident in and satisfied with your beliefs, settling down and living your life happily. Like some of the people leaving comments here, who are so overcome with their joy that they feel the need to throttle anyone who’s not like them. Way to go! Ever considered going into kiruv? Your approach is irresistable.

    Adam, you sem to be well-meaning. Don’t let these guys turn you off completely. But don’t expect them to let you have the last word- they’re pros.

  • Nope, Judi. As you can see, I’m not smooth enough a talker to go into kiruv. I’d be a major failure.

    As for the confidence that you mention, it’s all good as long as it’s true. If you’re confident that it’s true, please, please, please go read Jewish history, learn Jewish texts and self-convince yourself. But warning, you may find something you were hoping not to see or things you haven’t been told.

    As for “us” folks being pros, my professional life is in business, the technical sector, and my Jewish educational background consists of me being one of the simpletons who went through several years of Yeshiva before my marriage and now regularly attendinge a variety of shiurim.

    If that’s your idea of “pros”, you’ve set the bar very low.

  • Rock on! I love being a heretic!

    Funny that you should bring up Ahad Ha’am, SP…you do realize that he rejected his Orthodox upbringing, right? In fact, he pretty much rejected his religiosity in its entirety. I certainly am not saying that I am in that same boat, though my Zionism certainly matches Ha’am’s. Just saying, he may not be the best source to prove the importance of religious practice.

    And PS, I keep shabbos, keep kosher, have a Jewish household and am dedicated to living a Jewish life. I am just confident enough in that life, and in myself, to constantly analyze and question those decisions and motives.

    Shy Guy, an example. Archaeological evidence does not always (and, in fact, frequently does not) match details in the Torah. In the end does this discount those stories and what we are to learn from them? No, of course not. However that does not mean it is an apostatic (umm, I think that is a word?) point of view to wonder whether something like the Exodus occurred precisely as described. In fact, exploring such ideas only further deepens our collective knowledge of our history, and in that sense does bring us closer to G-d.

    But what do I know. Despite being a good person I don’t wrap tefilin, so…I guess I am in the way of the coming of Moshiach. Woops. My bad.

  • To follow-up: I mentioned this post and the post I wrote for Jewish Fringe about a mitzvah study group to my Rabbi. He said he would be willing to lead a group discussion in Chicago.

    I’m really excited and hope that we get it going this summer/fall. Thanks for the inspiration CK.

  • Shy Guy wrote:Why don’t you delve into learning the RAMBAM to discover that he bases himself solely on existing Torah concepts and laws. … How on earth does this justify the reform and conservative movements, which were concocted on zero foundations of prior understandings, customs and doctrines of Judaism?

    Sorry SG, but you’re rhetoric is just getting to me. You’re so quick to patronize others by effectively saying that they have to go learn more before they have the honor of arguing with you, and then you go ahead and demonstrate your ignorance.

    Assuming that you enjoy your own medicine, why don’t you go and read up on the historical foundation of the Reform and Conservative Movements? Like, for example, how all of their initial rabbis were orthodox rabbis? And all of their initial congregants were Jews, not any mass conversions or whatever fantasy you believe.

    Do you *still* stand by your statement that R & C Judaism were founded with zero Jewish background?

  • Shy-Guy:
    You said
    “If you don’t like the Torah or think that it’s not the absolute word of G-d, just say so.”
    I take grounds to challenge that. Especially becuase thw word you want to use there is halacha, not torah.
    There hasn’t been “torah true” (as in perfectingly halachic) Judaism in who knows how long…
    If we are talking about your usage, as torah standing in for halacha, of course. I would hedge that it is actually impossible to do, except as an abstract concept.

    Halacha is by design developed to be able to change.

    The fact that the Mishna Buria decideds to put down that change is bad does not mean that as as a haskfafic and halachic statement it is true.

    I would suggest the contrary. The fact that Rabbi Akiva creates darshaning (That Proffessor Urbach a’h, for you…and the family members of the Urbachs I know of is plenty observant of normative halacha from thier respective communities respective communites, trust me.) means that there is a break from reading the pshat of a pasuk to make a halachic decision in the talmud (if they do, remember the talmud doesn’t vcompletely resolve itself oftentimes.)

    After all

    “So too, everyone wrote down according to his ability parts of the explanation of the Torah and of its laws he heard, as well as the new matters that developed in each generation, which had not been received by oral tradition, but had been deduced by applying the Thirteen Principles for Interpreting the Torah, and had been agreed upon by the Great Rabbinical Court. Such had always been done, until the time of Our Holy Teacher.”

    That’s the Rambam in his introduction to the Yad…Considering it’s the yad, I would hope he knows what he is talking about.

    Or the Ramban. The Ramban concurs in sentiment in his commentary on the Torah, Devarim, 17:8…

    To say that most of halacha isn’t man made is bittul torah.
    If it wasn’t true, then there would be no need for Rahi’s gloss on bavli. if it wasn’t true, then the P’nei Moshe and the Korban H’Aidah would have been much more successful. One of the reasons the Yerushalmi is so hard to study is that is has far less stamma that the Bavli. You say you’ve been to yeshiva…this is about making a leining, and even you got to admit that making a leining on Bavli is easier that the yerushalmi because of the presence of the stamma.
    To say that the people had a form of jury nulification during the times of the Ten’aim is sheker. it’s well known that a law that couldn’t be kept by the people, it was annuled. I mean, if it wasn’t so, think of the problems with karbonot and tumah on holidays!

    There are no bat kols. Daat Torah is moot, becuase if there was Daat Torah, there wouldn’t be such a reluctance to admit the emmet about the mutability of halacha concurent with social changes. (You would be hard pressed to explain the mulplicity of answers to very similar questions, the types of questions that I would say rule thorugh something similar to a chazaka)

    And just so you know, The Ikkarim are not compatiable with a good deal of the principles set up in Kabbalah, which is a legitimate, albeit mystic, philosophic grounds for normative halachic observance. Starting with principle 2 in fact. The trandtional understanding of something like klippot and shechina are not really compatiable with Ikkar 2, unless you want to do some very non-peshat acrobatics.

    Chassidut, or at least the chassidut I know of, is definitely dependent on Kabbalah. Which would make them koferim.

    Sorry if I busted anyone’s bubble. There are all sorts of dirty secrets orthodoxy generally hates to let out 😀

  • I think it”s sad that in the midst of all our arguments on this topic, have we even stopped to consider how many Jews
    1) actually have the correct belief in Hashem (ie. Unity, Mercy, Omniscience, Unknowableness of Hashem) or are trying to believe in that way
    2) actually act on that belief (by being the most decent human beings they can be)
    Some of us Jews believe in Hashem and try to act on it. A lot of us don”t, sadly (whether through idolatrous mysticism or hubristic atheism).
    I think that we should all unite to promote the above values. It’s all very well for Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, etc. to argue and fight, but if you’re not even praying in the same building, what chance have you got to persuade anyone to your point of view?
    Sure we should argue, but with love. It’s easy to be holier than thou, but then you’ve just lost all hope of persuading the other person to your point of view. I am a Sephardic Jew who is not particularly Orthodox. However I am to the right of Conservative. But I also like some of what I’ve read on the Karaite and Samaritan websites, since they subscribe to the above 2 values. So what they’re not rabbinic? So what they’re tiny groups? Still they are part of the Jewish/ Israelite continuum of the true belief in Hashem (NOT shared by Jews for Jesus NOR Christianity), and as such they deserve to be welcomed and honoured among us as our true spiritual brethren.
    The true belief in Hashem AND acting on it, is so wonderful and so essential to the world that all our efforts should go toward persuading Jews AND non-Jews that this will be the salvation of the world.

  • Epstein believes that he reached an understanding with Katsav because they talked the matter through with mutual respect and without recrimination.

    From the article TM links to in comment 56… Hear that… That’s the key. Why can’t the rest of us talk about things with Mutual Respect and Without Recrimination? Wouldn’t that be great if we could? Maybe we’d finally make some progress and solve the Achdut [unity] problem that we seem to be experiencing within the Jewish community.

  • Apparently some people cannot cope with the truth. It would require a self examination and confession that things that they have held as correct and dear for a lifetime are as weightless and empty as chaff in the wind.

    The irony of this comment by its author is staggering. Despite all historic and textual evidence, Shy Guy believes and wants you to believe that Mishna has a clear pedigree from being whispered into Moshe’s ear until being laid down in ink with a quill by Yehuda ha Nasi (based upon R. Akiva’s earlier work transmitted by R. Meir – a convert, BTW). To deny our great sages the credit they deserve for collecting and creating modified understandings of the mikra as well as the huge volumes of extensions into other areas of criminal and civil/commerce law is pure chutspah.

    BTW, as I’ve pointed out previously, there was no Torah law at risk of being violated by the insane ritual of Sota – rather, it conflicted directly with the ketuba, a legal instrument invented by Shimon ben Shetah to protect a woman’s rights to a divorce settlement. A man that wanted to avoid paying the settlement fee stipulated in the ketuba could accuse his wife of adultery and demand the Sota ritual; any sane women knew that meant a good chance of death, and would release her husband from the ketuba.

    Hence, the ritual of Sota was banished by Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakai more than 50 years before the destruction of the second temple. Sure, later rabbis writing the Gemara 450 years later were uncomfortable with the initial reason codified for the abolishment (the use of Hosea as an asmakhta), so they changed the reason – but the ruling stood, and has to this day. Which, I’m sure, is exactly what haShem meant to happen: he told Moshe to put Sota in Torah, but then whispered secret instructions to be passed down for 1,500 years until they reached Rabbi Yohanan’s ears.

    Sure it did.

    -Nathan

  • Nathan, except your point doesn’t hold water. You’re right about how the mishna was developed, but the reform movement EXPLICITLY rejected that process. They explicitly rejected the binding nature of the torah as well as the the oral process.

    So the argument that “things can change” in a halachik sense does you no good in defending the legitimacy of reform (conservative movement a little, but there’s a huge difference between shev v’al taase, and “kum v’ase”)

  • Oy-ster… thanks for taking the words out of my mouth. Maybe we can get a little scholarship fund together so that Shy Guy can spend some time learning what reform and conservative judaism are all about these days? Otherwise, this discussion is pretty pointless.

  • Me, defending the Reform Movement? I don’t think so, my friend. I spend a few years there and couldn’t get away fast enough – although the guitar strumming campfire songs are fun in their proper place (not in shul – save them for the party motsei Shabbat!) Please don’t confuse the Conservative movement, at least as defined by some of the most educated Torah and Talmudic sages of the last century, with our distant cousins in the Reform movement, whom we still have not forgiven for serving our founding fathers clams at the infamous Treifa Banquet. I wrap up in black leather every day (except when I screw up) with best of them, walk to shul on Shabbat, and keep a kosher home, as do many in our community. We may disagree on hashkafa and on what constitutes a valid progress on the halacha (I disagree with many Conservative movement decisions too), but we have far more in common than you seem to believe.

  • Nathan, as someone whose grandparents were founders of a big conservative shul and who grew up orthodox, but with a ready knowledge of gretz, kaplan, lieberman, s. schechter, and even “lesser” well known names, such as ben zion bokser, I know the conservative movement pretty well.

    Forgetting about the conservative movement’s “haskafa” (which has some defendable elements, i.e. not off the wall), the question is, what do its “members” really believe. what effect does it have on its members as a whole?

    One way to say it could be, perhaps OJ (Judaism) and CJ have more in common than CJ and RJ, but Cj (jews) and Rj have more in common than Oj and Cj.

  • Yea, SP, that would be one way to say it.

    Another way to say it would be, Who could possibly give a shit about such a calculus, except someone with utter contempt for the notions of unity and mutual respect to which so many comments here to pay lip service. If the premise of Conservatism “has some defendable elements” that’s the end of the discussion, with no further need to parse out the divisive and gratuitous observations about what makes Orthodoxy superior.

  • since when is “unity” something we should strive for more than truth?

    I can respect someone’s right to do something wrong, but I don’t respect their right to do it in my name, which is what your “unity” statement ends up being. I don’t believe in “orthodox” judaism, I believe in “Judaism” which just so happens to be that modern day orthodoxy is the closest approximation we have to what true judaism should be, not that it is.

    And if you think reform/conservative don’t think they are superior to the orthodox you are foolish.

    At the end of the day, it only bothers someone if someone else acts superior if the person actually believes they are superior (a possible reason behind anti-semitism). If one doesn’t actually believe in that person’s superiority, they can be as misguided as they want. So, when reform/conservative leaders talk about their superiority, I just chuckle, no skin off my back. However, if an orthodox jew claims “superiority” boy do the guns come out blazing.

    oh, and if you don’t believe me, here’s a quote from the forward’s article on schorch’s final speech at JTS.

    http://forward.com/articles/7539

    Schorsch offered the most specific articulation of the meaning of Conservative Judaism during his speech Sunday. Conservative Jews, he argued, are primarily distinguished by a commitment to Emet V’Emunah — truth and faith — an embrace of critical Torah scholarship coupled with a view of Halacha as a binding, albeit evolving, process.

    “The Orthodox surely have Emunah,” Schorsch later told the Forward, “but they don’t accept critical scholarship. And the Reform certainly have critical scholarship, but they don’t accept the legitimacy of the halachic system. We’re distinctive because we are trying to wed both.”

    sure sounds to me like he feels conservative judaism is superior. 🙂

  • I think the problem here is that some people believe in Judaism, but they are not really sure if they believe in Hashem, G-d, the Creator of the Universe, or the Merciful One, whatever one calls the Eternal. If we believe in different versions of Judaism, we’re not going to get along. If we believe in the Merciful One, we”ve got a good hope of getting along.

  • I checked the dictionary and the thesaurus, just to be sure. “Distinct” means different. And while superior was not one of the synonyms I found, poles apart was. There you have it. Good Shabbos.

  • be a pendant. I think its clear his implication. If he didn’t feel conservative judaism was superior, why would he be apart of it?

  • SP this is PRECISELY what you don’t get. That it isn’t a matter of superiority in the sense of a blanket better. It is more a matter of resonance. A Conservative (and, yes, some Orthodox and some Reform) synagogue could have more resonance or connection to me on any given shabbos or holiday, etc…It isn’t a matter of superiority. Generally Conservativism resonates (as a general way of viewing Judaism) the most with me, but there are many Orthodox and Reform shuls that I have been to that feel just as meaningful. Now chances are those Reform and Conservative shuls wouldn’t resonate with you, and that is fine. As long as someone is connecting to Hashem, does it matter where?

  • Adam, where does one draw the line, if a jew finds meaning in a “jews for jesus” synagouge, is it ok? Perhaps its ok to you, but you would not be ok with call itself “judaism”? so where does one draw the line?

  • Unity and equality do not require sameness. Unity can still exist within a non-homogeneous group. Distinctiveness and delineation can still exist within a system of equality. I certainly believe in the veracity of Torah, and in the halachic system. I affiliate myself (when I must) with the orthodox movement. And while I long for the days when questions of affiliation will be moot, I recognize that there are currently unhealthy divisions and interactions that need to be remedied. It is possible to treat someone with respect, to greet them warmly and openly, while simultaneously disagreeing with them. I’m required to love my fellow, not condone his actions, but understand that I don’t walk in his place, and can’t know how he is judged in the heavens.

    I would never tell you to stop in your search for truth. But I believe firmly that you don’t have to sacrifice Achdut to achieve it.

    If anything, it is my firm belief in the validity of Torah Judaism that gives me the strength and security to be able to continue to seek inroads with the rest of the Jewish world. I am comfortable knowing that I can coexist respectfully and lovingly with my fellows even while disagreeing with them. In fact, I can even learn much from them.

    I turn toward the story of how R’ Meir continued to learn from Acher and call him his teacher (demonstrating love and respect) even after Acher became a heretic (from learning the secular philosophy of the day). The reason this relationship could exist and be beneficial, to both parties (Acher does T’shuva on his death bed) was precisely because there was respect and love on both sides. This is further seen when R’ Meir followed Acher one shabbos to learn from him while Acher road on horseback (in violation of Shabbat). Upon reaching the end of the Techum Shabbat (reaching the maximum distance one can travel on Shabbat) Acher makes a point to tell R’ Meir that they’ve reached the Techum so that he should stop following him. Even though Acher himself did not follow the rules, he respected and cared enough for R’ Meir to ensure that he would not be in violation of his core beliefs. (The respect and love must go both ways.)

    This is the same respect and care that we need to have for each other. We must pursue Truth, but we must also do so while maintaining a positive relationship with each other. Achenu Kol Beis Yisrael – We are all brothers the children of Israel. And we must care for our brothers unconditionally regardless of circumstance. Let’s remember that.

  • SP, I certainly agree with you, and it is a really fragile, sort of slippery slope. And to be honest I don’t know if I have a distinct answer (though, accepting Jesus as Mosiach might be a decent place to start). I do agree though that it is all perspective, so I understand that to you (and I understand the why as well) someone who affiliates with the Reform movement would be just as inauthentic as a Jew for Jesus. I guess part of it is that as much as I would never say that I know what every Orthodox Jew thinks (and many that I know think some pretty terrific things in my estimation), that there is a lot of misconceptions out there about the Conservative and Reform movements. People ask me all the time, “What are you?” and I think it is such a silly question. How does it matter? I am a Jew, and I feel really comfortable davening in Ashkenaz, Russian-type Orthodox shuls, as well as Moroccan, Conservative, Reform, etc…I have had really bad (in the sense of dull, non-sparked) experiences in all different types of shuls, just as I have also had really great, connected experiences in each type.

  • Oh, another thought that I meant to add, but clicked submit too quickly. For me kavanah is such an important concept in the ways in which I connect to Hashem. And for so many people (and this goes across all parts of the spectrum) so much of their practice has become so second nature that their is little thought, emotion, etc…behind their Jewish experiences. And for me, questioning my own practices on a regular basis (and amending them, or adding to them I guess is a better way to look at it) is a way to ensure that I am always aware of my intent behind any given practice, rather than just doing it out of obligation and/or mindless repetition.

  • Adam, at the end of the day reform, conservative, reconstructionist jews don’t bother me. Reform, Conservative … Judaism is what bothers me, so it has nothing to do that a “reform jew” is an inauthentic jew, but that the judaism they are practicing is inauthentic.

    Saying a reform jew is inauthentic is like saying a secular jew is inauthentic. However, secular jews aren’t redefining the jewish religion. In truth, the items that really create the unbridgable barrier between reform/conservative from orthodoxy is the things that do decide if someone’s a jew and their status. marriage/divorce/conversion….. that gap is unbrigable, without those movements giving up their “autonomy”, and by “autonomy” that basically makes them indepndent religions, not distinct takes on a single religion.

  • SP, Judaism has constantly been redefined. Do you think Moshe Rabbeinu led the B’nei Yisrael across the Jordan wearing a black hat (brim direction unknown, but speculated upon), singing L’cha Dodi? There has been input throughout the past several thousand years that has shaped the Judaism we know, up to and including that wonderful, fashionable era in eastern Europe that brought us the one true Jewish garment, the kapota.

    I have no idea why you feel so threatened by Reform Judaism. I find Jews who tell me that proven scientific principles are assur to be much more frightening. I am more revolted by unethical, non-Torah business practices within the kashrus industry than I am by soemone eating shrimp in the privacy of their own home. The latter doesn’t matter much to me; it impacts me little or not at all. I find the insanity perpetrated by our “legitimate” Jewish brethren to be, on the whole, more damaging.

    In my view, those who practic Reform Judaism deserve Reform Judaism. But you can look at it like a “kosher style” deli: some people make do with it until they discover the real thing.

    You brought in the argument about whether we should adopt the same laissaz faire attitude to the messianic “Jewish” movement. The answer’s easy- no. Their messiah doesn’t fit the criteria outlined by Judaism.

  • judi,

    1) I’m not a black hat wearer (though I used to be (to the semi-chagrin of my parents), though I’m past that phase of trying to be someone I’m not to fit in).

    2) I’m not threatened by reform judaism, just like I’m not threatened by catholicism. I have no issue with someone eating shrimp in their own home (beyond caring for each jew to not sin), but I do care if someone says “Judaism says it is ok to eat shrimp”.

    3) What criteria “outline” judaism. I’d say the halachik process is what outlines it, so yes, there can be evolution, but when you reject the process, which is what reform has, how do you fit within the “criteria”

    or in other words, besides for accepting jesus, what’s the difference between Messianic Judaism and Reform Judaism, and if that is the main difference, wh does it push it outside your criteria? or in other words, what is your criteria for being “jewish”?

  • Well, sheesh, SP. Are you telling me that we need another distinction between Reform and JFJ, beyond not accepting jesus? Because that one is pretty major. I guess I could also say that the Reform movement has Debbie Friedman…

    It’s interesting that you used to wear a black hat but don’t now. But the part of you that goes inside the hat is just as important. It’s possible for one’s clothing to be of the 21st century, but for their head to still be in the shtetl. This seems to be the case in many communities that consider themselves “advanced”, yet still hold tight to the halachic reins.

    And I still haven’t found any references to anyone in the Reform movement saying that Judaism says it’s okay to eat shrimp. That’s your black hat still talking.

  • ok, I’m almost finished with a phd at an ivy league university (and have 5 peer reviewed publications to my name, 4 as lead author), but I guess I still haven’t come out of the shtetl 🙂

    in regards to “saying its ok to eat shrimp”, read up on the treifa banquet. read up on the pittsburgh platform. Yes, these are all in the pasts to some extent, but they are all part of the philosophy of the reform movement.

  • Judi said:

    And I still haven’t found any references to anyone in the Reform movement saying that Judaism says it’s okay to eat shrimp. That’s your black hat still talking.

    Maybe it’s time you ate SP’s old hat.

    Some of us “shtetl Jews” know how to google. And you?

    Here’s the start of Article 4 of the Pittsburgh Conference Declaration of Principles:

    We hold that all such Mosaic and rabbinical laws as regulate diet, priestly purity, and dress originated in ages and under the influence of ideas entirely foreign to our present mental and spiritual state.

    Excuse me. I’ve got the munchies.

  • The bottom line is that if you actually believe in a god, then you gotta believe that that god gave mankind FREE WILL .. Some chose to exercise their free will by making up tribal dietary laws..the shrimp debate comes to mind here… Judiaism is NOT (at least I feel) a matter of observing a number of antiquated social/dietary rules (mikvas come to mind here)…you have got to get away from the conservarive/orthodox/reform distractions and ask yourself….can a man (or woman) eat pork and still be a Jew????…I say yes…waht do you say? ..

    What is being a Jew?

  • Again, a lot of it are individuals (and, really, isn’t that the case at all shuls?). Someone I know was exploring shuls, went to a very Classical Reform shul here in the Midwest and talked to the rabbi. She mentioned something about how she keeps Kosher, and he responded, “Oh, we don’t do that here.” Retarded, I know, as if that is somehow material what every single person in that congregation does as long as an individual wanted to keep Kosher. On the flipside I have also been to some Reform shuls with kosher kitchens, etc…

  • Adam — I am enjoying your thoughtful comments.

    Different people have different boundaries on what is and is not OK for them. My husband and I live within walking distance of a huge reform synagogue, and what bothered him was not the lack of a kosher kitchen, but the use of microphones and sound equipment on Shabbos. But we are not shomer-Shabbos, not anywhere close to it. Our beliefs and education on halachah probably put us into the liberal end of conservative Judaism, but we are not affiliated with a synagogue, mostly because every one in our area is oriented towards families with children, and for various reasons we are not having children. We’re friendly with a local Chabad rabbi, and go to his events occasionally, but our religious expression, such as it is, really is something we do together, not with him on one side of a mechitza and me on the other.

    (BTW I got chewed out in an online forum for marrying him because I am keeping him from the mitzvah of reproducing! Apparently by some standards a “good” Jewess who can’t or won’t have children should not get married… though I live in Massachusetts and am bi, so I suppose I could have married a nice Jewish girl 🙂

  • Quietanne – The real question is DO YOU EAT SHRIMP?? .. As far as your Jewish lifestyle is concerned…does that have anything to do with the fact that you guys live in John Kerry/Ted Kennedy country?? 🙂

  • Quietann,

    Thanks for the compliment! Love what you had to say as well and really identified with just about all of it.

    I am so with you. My most meaningful experiences are the ones that I share with my beshert (whether they are directly “religious” in the sense of spending shabbos together, or having amazing sex, or just having a great, connected conversation — and in that sense the lack of finding a religious community that I like or fit in isn’t that big a deal). So the thought of sitting apart at shul, and not being able to share glances, thoughts about the parsha, etc…would just significantly lessen the experience for me.

    But, uh-oh, I also just admitted to pre-marital sex so…at least we are both heretics together.

    What I struggle with, is that I feel like there are tons of people who are like-minded as us in the sense of not finding that organized connection. And I struggle in trying to think of a way to effectively bring these people together into meaningful experiences.

    So I would invite you and your husband over for shabbos dinner but…alas I am halfway across the country from you.

    And I’m a Yankee fan…don’t hold it against me.

  • Adam… A Yankee fan????? .. Good grief there is no bigger sin in the entire Jewish world then being a Yankee fan…. Go Mets!!

  • Shy Guy- funny how your google is stuck in 1885. Is it a good year?

    Aside from historical research purposes, the Pittsburgh Convention document doesn’t really have much to do with the Reform movement today.

    In 1937 and again in 1976, Reform leadership met and reassessed its purpose and goals. In 1976, to celebrate the 100th year of the movement, they issued the following statement:

    Within each area of Jewish observance Reform Jews are called upon to confront the claims of Jewish tradition, however differently perceived, and to exercise their individual autonomy, choosing and creating on the basis of commitment and knowledge.

    While that approach doesn’t do it for me, personally, I’ve got to recognize that it reflects an evolution of thought in the Reform movement away from the very reactive Pittsburgh Platform (keep in mind who the people were who founded the movement- wealthy German Jews who wanted to have nothing to do with those smelly Eastern Europeans. Now think of who the movement caters to now- descendents of those reviled Eastern Europeans, who still have a soft spot in their hearts for the charming old world ways of their Bubbes and Zeides).

    The movement, to its credit, had the cojones to recognize that they couldn’t honestly go on using the same constitution and bylaws, and opened up the avenues for discussion of actually increasing observance.

    Do you like your hat with ketchup or mayonnaise?

  • Well, Martin, my brother’s wedding was last Saturday, and there was this huge plate of cocktail shrimp, and I didn’t have any. This does not mean that I will always resist, but given my previous track record, it’s a good sign. (For the record, my brother’s wife’s family are Jews-turned-Episcopalians, long story there, and my brother, who is adopted, has never identified as Jewish — which as I understand it is in keeping with halachah. Our mother was Jewish, but our father is not.)

    Anyone who knows Massachusetts knows that we have a huge Orthodox community here, many of whom are liberal Democrats (and some of whom might even have approved if I’d married a nice Jewish girl instead of a nice Jewish boy.) We have a number of MO friends and it would be easy to join the Modern Orthodox world, if we wanted to. But there is the whole children issue, and to some degree, we’re just lazy 🙂

    Adam — it’s OK to be a Yankees fan. I didn’t know from baseball until I moved here, and I am a Red Sox fan mostly by default.

    As for your Shabbos invite — you never know!

  • Quietann,

    This is true, I never do know! I actually have a question kind of external of this topic that I’d like to ask you. Would you mine shooting me an email so I can email you back? I know this sounds weird, but it will all make sense (haha, I’m sure THAT is comforting). I would greatly, greatly appreciate it, check out the link from my name, my email address should be at the very bottom of that page.

    Thanks muchly, but of course I understand if not!

  • C-Girl, but were the founders of the reform movement “wrong” or not. Were they wrong to serve all sorts of shellfish and other non kosher food at the first graduation of HUC. Does HUC reject their founders decisions?

    The current reform movement (AFAIK) does not say that the pittsburgh platform was wrong or a mistake, which effectively means that while its not the “current” platform of the Reform movement, it would be 100% ok for a reform jew to follow it.

    This can be view in reaction to JTS’s former chancellor saying that allowing driving on the sabbath was one of the worst decisions/mistakes Conservative Judaism made.

    In other words, just because the reform movement says “keeping kosher is good(tm)” today, doesn’t mean that someone who is actively anti keeping kosher is outside the pale (as opposed to just not wanting to), nor would that outlook be viewed as mistaken.

  • There are two levels operating here. There’s the intellectual component- people in that movement who have “read the manual” and who understand and accept the entire premise of Reform Judaism as a theology, and those who belong to a Reform congregation because they like the English, the Rabbi doesn’t expect them to appear outwardly Jewish, they really couldn’t care less about being Jewish but they want their kid to have a Bat Mitzvah, their neighbors go, etc… For the second group, it doesn’t really matter what the movement has to say- they’re just casual observers who are willing t fork over a few $$thousand a year just to go once for Rosh Hashana.

    In other words, the movement is probably not even relevant to a vast majority of people who count themselves among Reform Jews, because they’re more secular than anything, and boy, cheeseburgers are good!. Max Diamont, in The Jews in America, writes that in every movement, the main constituents actually practice “one level below” what they claim to be. I’ve found this to be pretty much true, although not so much among some of the people I’ve met in hareidi circles 😉

    So, in response to your last paragraph, I believe that people who really are observant reform Jews might actually understand the current shift toward recognizing traditional Jewish customs and practices, something which would probably have no impact, whatsoever, on the average congregant.

  • I’ve been busy, but your last paragraph makes the point.

    i.e.

    So, in response to your last paragraph, I believe that people who really are observant reform Jews might actually understand the current shift toward recognizing traditional Jewish customs and practices, something which would probably have no impact, whatsoever, on the average congregant.

    So reform judaism as a movement is NOW recognizing the “value” of these things! Basically, what was Reform Judaism 10-20 years ago? It’s the same movement, the same underlying philosophy. Just because they place a value in certain things today doesn’t make them that different than they were 20, 50 or 100 years ago.

    The second point is that Reform and Conservative Judaism are failures as a movement. You said it yourself when you refer to the average congregant. This is opposed to orthodoxy where the average congregant does care about these things.

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