Who’s the he? Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar. According to him, as quoted in the Jerusalem Post, Reform Jews are the ones responsible for all of the ills of Israeli and Jewish society, including violence and assimilation. Regarding the latter – talk to the average Israeli on the street. If they have to choose between Orthodoxy and nothing, they will choose nothing. I’m not saying that this is the right choice, but its the choice made daily. Reform Judaism, then, could be argued as preventing assimilation, as it provides an avenue to Judaism that is seen as far more agreeable than its Orthodox counterparts. Now about the former – what? Is Amar really trying to say that there is no violence in the Orthodox community. Just for the record, the allegations made against Rabbi Elon, are not being made by Reform Jews against a Reform Rabbi; that’s all in the Orthodox community. So here’s my point – no community is perfect, and there’s a lot of resentment towards both streams of Judaism, but people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

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  • Outside of Israel, I do think that Reform is a dangerous and problematic thing to the Jewish soul. It legitimizes and encourages assimilation and intermarriage (belatedly trying to backtrack on that last one). It replaces Jewish values with other explicitly non-halachic and western ones. When people are raised Reform they think they know what Judaism is– and want nothing to do with it! And based on what they’re fed at Reform Sunday school (!) that’s the RIGHT decision. And in America, with separation of church and state (and Jew from homeland), how you are Jewish is merely a matter of personal choice.

    That being said, in Israel it’s a totally different cheshbon. The direction, the vector, of assimilation is TOWARDS Judaism– just look at all the Russians. Even the Thai kids want to convert. It’s also an unfortunate fashla of religion and state in Israel– and the haredi have majorly screwed up their control of the rabbinate. There’s a lot of baseless hatred towards the orthodox too of course. But in Israel– more is at stake, politically, identity-wise, etc. in the public struggles.

    One could make a case that Reform, as an option in a Jewish society where intermarriage is negligible and certain basics are safely in place (the land itself, Jewish calendar, kosher food widely available, etc.), is actually a more valid and appropriate option than it is in America. And might actually be deserving of recognized existence (whereas I believe the world would be better off if American Reform suddenly vanished.)

    However, let’s remember that all these ‘denominations’ and ‘sects’ of ‘rabbis’ are b’di’avad. We are supposed to be killing animals, people. Cohanim. Rabbis– of all stripes– are supposed to be out of a job!

  • Samir – I’m afraid I’m a bit confused. By that chart, I shouldn’t be Jewish. My grandparents where Reform Jews (my grandfather was even the President of his temple). My parents are Reform Jews. My sister and I grew up at a Reform temple. I have never dated a non-Jew, nor see any reason that my children will not be Jewish. In fact, the love of Judaism and Zionism I have, which was taught to me at my Reform Temple and Reform day-school, led me to make aliyah. I therefore, respectfully, find that chart to be extremely suspect. More over, I have no intention of apologizing for a lack of desire to have 6.72 children.

    Joel – to be honest, the Hebrew is worse: the Reform/Liberal Jews “have their nails dug into those who have settled in Zion”

  • matthew – I respect your opinion, though I disagree with some of it. I would like to point out, however, that Hosea specifically notes that prayer will replace sacrifice until the end of days.

  • I therefore, respectfully, find that chart to be extremely suspect.
    – – – – – – – – – – –
    … or you are a statistical anomaly.

    Which you are – at least according to Israeli government data on aliyah, and all the data available to us about North American Jewry.

    For example: even back when I was a kid in the early 70s, most Reform-affiliated Jews did not send their children to day school, or even the dreaded “Sunday school”.

    So you represent a select minority within Reform-affiliated Jews.

    And we know a similarly small minority of Reform Jews even visits Israel once in their lifetimes.

    So the chart summarizes a whole bunch of well-established statistical trends, to which you are most definitely an exception.

  • Ben David – perhaps that’s so. Yet, most of my friends in the States are Jews, who grew up at “Jew school,” and are still involved in their temple and intent on raising Jewish children. So does that mean that the majority of my friends/acquaintances in the States are exceptions? If so, I think we need t-shirts? Any suggestions on what they should say? I’m thinking something along the lines of “Proud Progressive Jew?” But that’s not very catchy… thoughts?

  • Dahlia– I think you guys should get free Nefesh B’Nefesh t-shirts and hats. And all move to Israel. Please, please, do not be proud to be Jews who are choosing to live outside of the land.

    It is not because you are Reform that I am saying this– if anything, I think Reform are better ‘Americans’ than Orthodox. At least you have the decency to assimilate, which is of course the American Dream. I think that Orthodox choosing to live outside Israel openly as Orthodox Jews is a far worse hypocrisy than Reform (it’s an actual mitzvah to settle/ live in the land, and many, many more mitzvot depend on being in the land).

    So please, be ‘Americans of Jewish heritage’ at most, who look like any other Americans…. If by some miracle your family & friends continue not to intermarry, gevalt, but IMO Jews who choose to identify as Jews (and not as Americans) belong in Israel; it’s that simple. There’s nothing stopping us from moving here. After 2,000 years of suffering when that was impossible– to choose not to is IMO a slap in the face of many, many more generations than you would care to face…

  • does that mean that the majority of my friends/acquaintances in the States are exceptions?
    – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Well, if you went to Harvard, most of your friends would also be exceptions.

    And if you met your Jewish friends in Temple/shul – then your friends come from an already self-selected group of people who take their Judaism seriously.

    We know that the vast majority of Reform-affiliated Jews in America do NOT show up regularly at Temple, nor do they care too much about intermarriage.

    I always thought your name – Dahlia – indicated an Israeli connection. If true, that would also explain a lot – including your move to Israel, which is virtually unheard of among Reform Jews.

  • Ben David – Dahlia is my nome de guerre, as ck’s is his. I chose it after hearing a story about a Moroccan princess.