Friday, December 11, 2015


Many of you will remember Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel Yisrael Meir Lau, a child of Buchenwald, where Jews were slaughtered regardless of the religious movement they followed or even if they didn't practice our religion at all; Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, who with regularity condemned all Jews who did not practice his version of Judaism, a Chief Rabbi who attempted to deny access to portions of the the Kotel to all but the ultra-Orthodox. It was not unusual for this Rabbi Lau to utter the ugliest of slurs about the non-Orthodox. Well, Rabbi Israel Meir Lau retired and in 2013, his son, Rabbi David Baruch Lau, was elected Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Israel -- I guess it's a family business. 

In his "campaign," this Lau promised to be a unifying force, a "progressive figure."

And, when in December, Israel's Minister of the Diaspora, Naftali Bennett, visited a Solomon Schechter School in New York City where he found enthusiastic support for Israel and the children's Judaism there, Rabbi David Baruch Lau condemned him:
“To speak deliberately with a specific community and to recognize it and its path, when this path distances Jews from the path of the Jewish people, this is forbidden,” continued Lau. “If Minister Bennett would have asked my opinion before the visit I would have said to him explicitly, “You cannot go somewhere where the education distances Jews from tradition, from the past, and from the future of the Jewish people.”
Shameful, and not the first time for this "progressive figure," this "unifying force." Shortly after his 2013 election, this Chief Rabbi called those he found less than "pure," kushim, a derogatory term for Black people.

To its credit, JFNA promptly and publicly objected to Lau's attack on Minister Bennett and his visit to a Conservative school:
"Israel's Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau was wrong to criticize Minister Naftali Bennett for the minister's visit to a Solomon Schechter community day school in Manhattan. As the minister who covers both the education and Diaspora portfolios, Mr. Bennett serves a unique role in representing the Israeli government and must continue to reach out to all Jews wherever they are -- including at religious schools, day schools and camps affiliated with all of the streams of Judaism. By connecting and learning about Jewish educational experiences in the Diaspora, Mr. Bennett is doing exactly what is appropriate. There should not be suggestions that the Minister of Diaspora Affairs needs to ask for permission to experience Jewish education moments while traveling.  In fact, Mr. Bennett should be recognized for his leadership with these efforts, not criticized."
Not exactly a condemnation but, for JFNA, certainly, a strong statement. JFNA Board Chair spoke more strongly in his transmittal of the statement to the Board:
"I was puzzled and chagrined to read of Chief Rabbi Lau’s recent comments regarding Minister Naftali Bennett’s visit to a Solomon Schechter school while in the United States. This kind of dialogue is an unfortunate example of how we build barriers within our own community. Instead, I urge us to seek opportunities to work together with an eye toward engaging our young people and ensuring our future as a people, according to Jewish values."

Well said.


Apparently someone at JFNA was convinced that there would be something to be gained by having Smilin" Jerry provide interviews (a "personal" statement) and further exposure of the matter on the House Voice FedWorld in successive "issues." An Anonymous Commentator, I'm guessing from 25 Broadway itself had just told us that this was no issue at all because of Lau's earlier visit without controversy to a Schechter School himself. Who knew?



Anonymous said...

Richard, what wasn't "well said" Jerry Silverman's interview on the subject in another edition of The Jerusalem Post where your CEO offered no criticism of Rabbi Davi Lau but spent his time congratulating Naftali Benney for his Schechter School visit. He needs to go already.

Anonymous said...

That's just silly. The reason Silverman didn't condemn Lau's statement in that first article was because Lau spoke AFTER the article was published. Jeez.

Anonymous said...

The article in question was titled: "Jewish Federation head adds to criticism of Chief Rabbi Lau." (Which he didn't!!) And the body of the article in question begins: "President and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America has weighed into the controversy surrounding comments made by Chief Rabbi David Lau.." (which he didn't.)That's the article I referenced and Silverman still has said nothing in response to Rabbi Lau. (But thanks for standing up for Jerry, he needs it.) Jeez is right. Leave the public responses from JFNA on any subject to Richard Sandler -- he nailed it.

Anonymous said...

what part of the following sentence in the article you quoted did you miss? ""Israel's Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau was wrong to criticize Minister Naftali Bennett for the minister's visit to a Solomon Schechter community day school in Manhattan,” said Silverman."

Anonymous said...

Um ... yeah, he kinda did say something in the article. Are you sure you read it, anon at 4:51?

RWEX said...

OK. I wrote this Post to congratulate JFNA and its Chair on their Statements in response to the attack by Rabbi David Lau on visiting a Schechter School. Let's focus on that...if possible.

Anonymous said...

The whole episode is rather silly since some years ago the same Rabbi Lau visited a community Jewish day school in LA. I guess it was OK since he was doing the visiting and not someone else. :-)