Thursday, October 17, 2019


Chag Sukkot Sameach.

A curious Forward Op-Ed has been circulating recently -- -- in certain circles this thing has gained a certain enthusiastic support. It seems that the author has also written such drivel as Give Trump the Benefit of the Doubt, You Give It to Democrats All the Time and No, Orthodox Jews Are Not White Supremacists -- and Neither is Trump. I think you can pretty much deduce this guy's political leanings. In fact, uf I might speculate for a moment, I'm guessing that those who endorse the "stop preaching politics" plea would not object to preaching politics if the message was supportive of President Trump -- just a guess.

You can link to the Op-Ed if you wish but you can probably also deduce the author's slant, can't you? He wants all Rabbis who might espouse positions that he opposes should just stop it. You see, the author has identified these...these Reform Rabbis.  If you follow his "reasoning," you have to conclude, as did this guy "that anyone who doesn't share their politics has no place in their congregation." This, of course, is specious. 

I love it when my Rabbis challenge me with their opinions; I would hope that most congregational Jews do, Reformed, Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstruction, it should make no difference. The topics may range from religious practice to social justice even what some might characterize as "political." 

But the opinions expressed in the Op-Ed are those of the Managing Director, the Coalition for Jewish Values, Rabbi Yaakov Menken. If you visit this Coalition's website you will find that the CJV (yes, so important that it can self-identify as an acronym):
"... begins from the premise that something can be called an authentic Jewish value only if it is rooted in Biblical and Rabbinic teachings through millennia of Jewish history. Neither spurious references to “Tikkun Olam” nor the use of Biblical verses plucked out of context transform personal views into Jewish tenets."
Wow!! If this be a statement of "Jewish values," I have wholly failed to practice them my whole life. And if you read the position statements of the CJV you will find their version of "values" to be anything done or articulated by President Trump...anything and everything.

And, you should know that Rabbi Menken, who appears to not be a pulpit, congregational Rabbi, has done some important work in Jewish outreach and Torah teaching. I will leave it to you whether to include the CJV in any list of the esteemed Rabbi's achievements.

Now I think that the "over 1,000 Rabbis" (unnamed) whom CJV claims that it represents are entitled to their opinions and they should be free to express them through the organization or from their pulpits (if they have them).

Yes, these unidentified Rabbis should express their opinions freely, just don't try to shut up Rabbis with whom they disagree.



Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

What’s wrong with talking about religion and G-d from the pulpit on Shabbat and holidays, especially Rosh Hashanah?

Politicians come and go, as the current crop will ultimately disappear.

The question is are there critical issues to the Jewish community on which we shouldn’t be silent, as opposed to universal issues

A prior generation failed us

I suspect your political opinions are demonstrated by your response to the article.

Anonymous said...

Ahhhhhh, and, from the slant of this post you can also guess Richard's bias.

Anonymous said...

I didn't read the linked article. However, I share his opinion. I go to schul for spiritual renewal and reflection. Politics and opinions are in our face 24/7... I don't want to hear it from my Rabbi. If a Rabbi wants to speak out that is fine just don't use weekly religious service. Invite people to separate programs.

Anonymous said...

There is no lonelier a human being than a Republican at a Reform congregation

Anonymous said...

To anon 8:05 am:

No, it's worse in the vast majority of Orthodox synagogues where to even claim you're a Democrat or anti-Trump or to advocate for a two state solution would subject you to ridicule and abuse.

Luckily, I belong to a rare exception of an Orthodox synagogue where, amazingly, we all get along.

And "Yaakov" Menken is no stranger to spewing all kinds of vitriol. I'd stay far, far away from him.

Anonymous said...

Let's be clear as to what and whom we are talking about. Orthodox Jewry is little more than a tenth of American Jewry, the majority of whom are haredi. And as recent studies indicate the rest of us may be evolving but not disappearing any time soon. In addition, despite best efforts, Orthodoxy cannot breed their way to communal dominance; and despite their hopes they will not fulfill the dream of "inheriting" communal assets from the diverse majority who will stick around for generations. Hence what is left for them is sophomoric sniping worthy of being ignored.Hopefully they will get the message, abandon the triumphalism, and try dialogue and respect.

Anonymous said...

Richard, surely you did not seek to create and foster divisions, when we should be looking to bring the community together more effectively.

Why has this one (and unknown to me) author so gotten under your skin? Was it appropriate to castigate him for his lack of a congregation?

(Please see this analogy from the Washington Post )

I agree with the fourth comment, that Rabbis should separate their politics from their pastoral messages. There is a time and place for each, regardless of the slant of politics. As the final holiday season begins, let’s look to what unites us and kept us as communally responsible Jews, which is surely not Matzah Ball soup or the religion of the new progressives.

I find the last post reflects far greater vitriol towards the observant, something that I truly hope you would try to stem rather than encourage.