I 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.